NFC North Draft In-Depth

The Vikings are suddenly being floated as the favorite to win the NFC North, but their division rivals added a lot of young talent through the draft. We go in-depth with reports on each of their draft picks.

CHICAGO BEARS

Round 1/14 — Chris Williams, OT, 6-6, 315, Vanderbilt

With two other quality offensive tackles still on the board, the Bears had a chance to trade down, but Williams was the guy they really wanted. Has the athleticism and footwork to step in right away at left tackle and was a three-year starter in the SEC, including the past two seasons at left tackle. Isn't considered overpowering as a run blocker and lacks some upper-body strength but has more than enough size and a frame to get bigger. Shows all the skills necessary to be an excellent pass blocker and has the smarts to learn a system quickly.

Round 2/44 — Matt Forte, RB, 6-1, 217, Tulane

Was second in the nation last season with 2,127 rushing yards on 361 carries for a 5.9-yard average and 23 touchdowns. Rushed for 4,265 yards on 833 carries in four-year career for a 5.1-yard average. Not a home-run threat, running around 4.5 in the 40 and lacking a second gear in the open field, but he is a strong runner with some make-you-miss ability and toughness. Also is a solid receiver with soft hands who caught 103 passes for 985 yards.

Round 3/70 — Earl Bennett, WR, 6-0, 209, Vanderbilt

Caught 236 career passes, more than anyone in Southeast Conference history before leaving school a year early. Bennett never caught fewer than 75 passes in any of his three seasons, the only player in SEC history with at least 75 receptions in more than one season, and he finished with a total of 2,853 yards and 20 touchdowns. Does not possess great speed (4.51) and struggles to get separation, but ha some quickness, makes acrobatic catches and is strong and physical with the courage to work the middle and ability to break tackles. More of an underneath weapon than a home-run threat.

Round 3/90 — Marcus Harrison, DT, 6-3, 317, Arkansas

Had knee surgeries in 2006 and ‘07, a scope first and then a procedure to repair a torn ACL the following year during spring practice, but returned to start 10 games. Was suspended for the first game last season after an arrest, when he was charged with speeding and felony possession of a controlled substance (ecstasy). Returned ahead of schedule last season, even though he wasn't at full strength, but still had 76 tackles and 10 batted passes. Showed flashes of his early 2006 form late last season and in postseason work. Has good athleticism and agility. More suited to the "three technique," although he isn't a threat as a pass rusher. Also has enough size to play nose tackle.

Round 4/120 — Craig Steltz, SS, 6-2, 213, LSU

One-year starter, but he made an impression with 101 tackles. Missed Combine workouts because of a fractured right shoulder. Big, strong, physical hitter who plays smart and with good instincts but can be an inconsistent tackler because of technique flaws. Speed is average at best (4.62) and might be more effective as an in-the-box, extra-linebacker type than in coverage, although he has good hands and had 11 career interceptions. Has a special-teams mentality and should contribute immediately in that phase.

Round 5/142 — Zackary Bowman, CB, 6-0, 197, Nebraska

Tore ACL in his left knee during spring practice in 2006 and missed that season. Tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in 2007 spring practice but returned in time to start four games last season. Has good size for a corner and still runs very well (4.44 in the 40) despite the knee surgeries. Has the athletic ability and enough tools to eventually compete for a job if he can stay healthy. Has good cover skills but is not much of a factor in run support and isn't very physical. Bowman attended Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska, where his father was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base. Bowman also played basketball and was teammates with Kansas superstar Mario Chalmers.

Round 5/158 — Kellen Davis, TE, 6-7, 262, Michigan State

Has a reputation as a consummate underachiever who doesn't possess a strong work ethic and hasn't shown much interest in blocking. Is an excellent athlete who looks the part with great size, strength and build and is capable of becoming a better-than-average blocker. Has always shown talent as a pass catcher and had 32 receptions for 513 yards (16.0-yard average) and six touchdowns. Was placed on 18 months probation in the fall of 2006 for his involvement in a fight at an off-campus party when he was charged with aggravated assault and suspended for four games.

Round 7/208 — Ervin Baldwin, DE, 6-2, 270, Michigan State

Started all 25 games in MSU career. Finished third in the Big Ten with 18.5 tackles for loss and also had 8.5 sacks. Honorable mention All-Big Ten last season. Had two sacks against Purdue and Indiana last season. As a junior led MSU linemen with 35 tackles. Undersized but could factor as a situational pass-rushing project. Good speed (4.75 in the 40) for the position.

Round 7/222 — Chester Adams, OG, 6-4, 323, Georgia

Nickname is "The Big Cheese." Two-year starter. Moved to right tackle and started 11 games in 2007 after starting 11 games at right guard in 2006, when he missed two games with an ankle injury. Projects to guard in the NFL because of a lack of mobility and athleticism. But he has very good natural strength and power and is not easily moved. More of a mauling-type run blocker than an agile pass protector.

Round 7/243 — Joey LaRocque, LB, 6-2, 235, Oregon State

Two-year starter after transferring from College of the Canyons. Had 86 tackles last season, including 58 solos, three sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. As a junior, he was 10th in the Pac-10 with 98 tackles, including 10 against UCLA and Hawaii. Had three tackles for loss in Sun Bowl victory over Missouri. Started all 27 games in his two seasons at Oregon State. As a sophomore, LaRocque had a team-high 103 tackles and added 11 1/2 sacks.

Round 7/247 — Kirk Barton, OT, 6-5, 310, Ohio State

Hobbled by injuries (left shoulder, right knee) in his first three seasons, including a redshirt in 2003, but he started 26 games at right tackle in his final two seasons. Well built specimen with excellent weight-room strength. Team captain who is serious about the game. Lacks athleticism, is stiff in his movements and lacks balance. Weight-room strength doesn't always carry over to the field. Could move inside to guard and has the smarts to catch on quickly at the next level.

Round 7/248 — Marcus Monk, WR, 6-4, 222, Arkansas

High school valedictorian. Missed the majority of his senior season because of a knee injury that required surgery. Started 25 games in his two previous seasons. Caught 50 passes for 962 yards (19.2-yard average) and 11 touchdowns as a junior. Caught 35 passes for 476 yards (13.6-yard average) and 7 touchdowns as a sophomore. Outstanding size creates mismatches. Doesn't have much speed (4.63 in the 40) or quickness for the position but is considered a high-character player.


DETROIT LIONS

Round 1/17 — Gosder Cherilus, OT, 6-7, 319, Boston College

After the Lions' top choices came off the board quickly — Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey at No. 8, Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo at No. 10 — the Lions traded down from No. 15 and took an offensive lineman within the first three rounds for the first time since 2001. Cherilus has the football character coach Rod Marinelli wants and fills an immediate need. He is a big, tough, strong guy with long arms, big hands and a mean streak. He is a natural right tackle, and the Lions had a huge hole there.

Round 2/45 — Jordon Dizon, LB, 6-0, 229, Colorado

The Lions badly needed a middle linebacker who fit their Tampa Two defense, after failing to acquire Jonathan Vilma in a trade, flirting with free agent Dan Morgan and watching New England swipe Tennessee's Jerod Mayo 10th overall in the draft. Dizon is small, but he's energetic and productive. He led the nation in tackles last season with 173 and had 463 in his career, eighth-best in major college history. The Lions want him to bulk up, but they plan to plop him in the middle immediately and let him compete for the starting job.

Round 3/64 — Kevin Smith, RB, 6-1, 217, Central Florida

The Lions want to run the ball more now that they have replaced offensive coordinator Mike Martz with Jim Colletto, and after cutting Kevin Jones, a first-round pick in 2004, they were down to Tatum Bell, Brian Calhoun and Aveion Cason. They loved Smith's production at Central Florida and moved up to get him. Last season he was 62 yards shy of the record 2,628 yards Lions great Barry Sanders posted at Oklahoma State in 1988. Smith is a tough, confident runner who fits their new zone running scheme.

Round 3/87 — Andre Fluellen, DT, 6-2, 296, Florida State

Fluellen has been hampered by injuries throughout his career, but the Lions were impressed by how he played through most of them and weren't put off by his size. Coach Rod Marinelli, a defensive line guru, has had a lot of success with 300-pound defensive tackles. He likes Fluellen's quickness off the ball. The Lions signed veteran Chuck Darby after trading star Shaun Rogers, but there is plenty of opportunity for Fluellen to make an impact. He can play under tackle or nose.

Round 3/92 — Cliff Avril, DE, 6-3, 252, Purdue

The Lions had Avril rated much higher than the pick and traded up to get him. The reason they didn't take him over Fluellen at No. 87 was because they felt they had more options at defensive end than they did at defensive tackle. Avril can make an immediate impact as a third-down pass rusher, but the Lions hope he will develop into a three-down defensive end.

Round 5/136 — Kenneth Moore, WR/PR, 5-11, 195, Wake Forest

Moore's main value is as a punt returner, though the Lions hope he can return kicks, too, and he hopes he can enter the mix as a wide receiver. The Lions' return game is wide open. Wide receiver Troy Walters did not return.

Round 5/146 — Jerome Felton, FB, 6-0, 246, Furman

Felton is not a prototypical lead-blocking fullback, like the Lions had in Cory Schlesinger for so many years. But their offense doesn't require one, and Felton fits what they want to do in the running game. The only fullback the Lions had on the roster was Jon Bradley, a converted defensive tackle.

Round 7/216 — Landon Cohen, DT, 6-3, 274, Ohio

When in doubt, feed the front. That is coach Rod Marinelli's philosophy. Cohen adds depth and competition at defensive tackle.

Round 7/218 — Caleb Campbell, LB, 6-2, 229, Army

Campbell was the sentimental favorite because he comes from Army. He was interviewed on ESPN and NFL Network during the draft. Coach Rod Marinelli served in the Army. President Matt Millen's son Marcus played with Campbell there. But Millen said that was not why he drafted Campbell. He said he would have drafted Campbell had he come from another school. The Lions will start him out at strong side linebacker.


GREEN BAY PACKERS

Round 2/36 — Jordy Nelson, WR, 6-3, 217, Kansas State

For the second straight year, GM Ted Thompson's first pick elicited boos from fans attending a draft party at Lambeau Field on Day 1. Nelson didn't have the name recognition of a few other receivers who were available at the time after the Packers moved back from No. 30 in the first round. Still, his upside as an athletic playmaker with deceptively fast speed suggests he'll contribute more as a rookie than questionable first-round draft pick Justin Harrell did at defensive tackle last year. His productivity as a punt returner made him more attractive.

Round 2/56 — Brian Brohm, QB, 6-3, 230, Louisville

The heir apparent to Aaron Rodgers, who no longer will be the QB-in-waiting behind Brett Favre. The Packers lucked out in not having to trade up from the back end of Round 2 to bag Brohm, who would have been a high first-round selection in 2007 had he not returned to Louisville for his senior season. He's a prototypical West Coast-system quarterback, with solid decision-making, accuracy in the short passing game and mobility. Brohm, however, doesn't have a strong arm, and his injury history is lengthy.

Round 2/60 — Patrick Lee, CB, 6-0, 200, Auburn

Lee meshes with the Packers' defensive philosophy for being a good-sized, physical corner suited to play bump-and-run coverage. After only one full year as a starter, however, Lee will need time to develop and won't be pushing aside aging starters Al Harris and Charles Woodson anytime soon. Lee figures to be spending a lot of extra time on the practice field with coach Lionel Washington to rectify his spotty skills defending receivers down field.

Round 3/91 — Jermichael Finley, TE, 6-4, 243, Texas

The Packers started Day 2 of the draft by addressing a need, what with Donald Lee the only proven player at the position after the release of Bubba Franks. However, Finley is a developmental player, coming out of college as a redshirt sophomore. He has great hands and is athletic with the receiving skills to stretch the field, but he's not overly fast, is raw as a blocker and must bulk up.

Round 4/102 — Jeremy Thompson, DE, 6-4, 264, Wake Forest

Ted Thompson finally showed some gumption in trading up for the first time in four years as the team's GM to take Jeremy Thompson. He was a better run stopper than pass rusher in college. The Green Bay scouts, though, attribute Thompson's modest sack numbers (6 1/2 last season) to different roles he was put in as a versatile lineman. He has room to fill out his good-sized frame. Older brother Orrin Thompson is a backup offensive tackle for the Packers.

Round 4/135 — Josh Sitton, OG, 6-3, 324, Central Florida

Resourceful lineman — he primarily lined up at right tackle in three full seasons as a starter but also has experience at right guard and left guard — will be in the mix for the starting spots at guard and also could be a viable replacement in the next few years for aging right tackle Mark Tauscher. Sitton was a catalyst last season in Kevin Smith's rushing for 2,567 yards, only 61 behind Barry Sanders' single-season college record.

Round 5/150 — Breno Giacomini, OT, 6-7, 303, Louisville

Converted tight end started at right tackle all last season, drawing notice as an effective pass blocker with quick feet and hands. He has good size to get a look at both tackle spots in the coming months and plays with a nasty disposition.

Round 7/209 — Matt Flynn, QB, 6-2, 227, LSU

One-year starter for the national-champion Tigers after having been the understudy to 2007 top draft pick JaMarcus Russell. Flynn is a heady signal caller with good, accurate touch in the short passing game. He is versatile as a runner and can throw effectively on the run but isn't a strong downfield thrower. Durability should be a concern after he suffered a high ankle sprain early last season.

Round 7/217 — Brett Swain, WR, 6-1, 200, San Diego State

The top receiver for the Aztecs each of the last two years has a chip on his shoulder because of knocks he took leading up to the draft for not being a blazer. He was quick enough after the catch to churn out numerous big plays in college, primarily operating out of the slot. Could get a look on returns and would need to stand out in other areas of special teams to stick around at a crowded position.



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