NFC North in-depth draft review
Lacking the draft firepower of a first- or second-round pick, the Bears did a good job of bringing in competition in the secondary, especially at safety, where they have a lot of bodies but no one who stands out.
They used their top pick, 75th overall, on Florida safety Major Wright and then went back to the secondary in the fifth round for Kansas State cornerback Joshua Moore. Although both are juniors they are expected to contribute immediately.
The Bears' other area of need was offensive line, and they made their usual half-hearted effort at improving that long-ignored area when they took West Texas A&M's J'Marcus Webb with the 218th pick.
BEST PICK: Defensive end Corey Wootton — Had he not torn his knee up in Northwestern's Alamo Bowl loss to Missouri after the 2008 regular season, Wootton likely would have entered the draft a year ago and been a late-first- or early-second-round choice according to the NFL's Advisory Committee. As a junior he had 16 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, which is why they were thrilled when he was still on the board at 109.
COULD SURPRISE: Offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb — The seventh-round pick (218th overall) could be a diamond in the rough. A Parade All-American in high school, he was heavily recruited and enrolled at Texas but left after a year because of academic problems. He wound up at Division-II West Texas A&M but flashed good enough athleticism at 6-8 and 335 pounds in the postseason to draw interest.
A closer look at the Bears' picks:
Round 3/75 — Major Wright, S, 5-11 1/2, 206, Florida: Got high marks for character. A big hitter who has played well as the deep man in coverage, where he showed enough cover ability to convince the Bears he could play free safety. Also received high grades for his instincts, speed (4.48), toughness and football smarts. Started 33 games in three seasons at Florida, leaving with a year of eligibility remaining.
Round 4/109 — Corey Wootton, DE, 6-6, 270 Northwestern: Started 35 games at right end in his final three years after starting 12 games at left end as a freshman in 2006. Was a potential first-round pick after a junior season in which he had 16 tackles for loss and 10 sacks but suffered a torn ACL in the Alamo Bowl and struggled after coming back from January ‘09 surgery. If he regains his junior-season form, he'll be a steal.
Round 5/141 — Josh Moore, CB, 5-11, 188 Kansas State: Junior who started five games as a true freshman, academically ineligible in ‘07 but came back strong in ‘08, and started the next 24 games with 140 tackles, 23 pass break-ups and five interceptions. Lacks bulk and is physically weak. Doesn't have great speed (4.52 in the 40) but has enough quickness, ball skills, soft hands, instincts and reactions to be an effective cover corner.
Round 6/181 — Dan LeFevour, QB, 6-3, 230, Central Michigan: Four-year starter was tremendously productive as a passer and runner. Only player in NCAA history with 12,000 career passing yards and 2,500 career rushing yards. Will have time to make transition from shotgun QB to taking snaps from under center.
Round 7/218 — J'Marcus Webb, OT, 6-8, 325 West Texas A&M: A high school Parade All-American originally enrolled at the University of Texas but played there just one season before transferring to Navarro Junior College where he was a NJCAA All-American and then to D-II WTAMU.
Since arriving in Detroit in January 2009, in the wake of the NFL's first 0-16 season, coach Jim Schwartz has said the Lions' No. 1 need is talent. The Lions added two more blue-chippers in the first round of this year's NFL draft, taking Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (No. 2 overall) and trading up for California running back Jahvid Best (30). They took only four more players after that, and none was nearly as sexy. But general manager Martin Mayhew also used picks from this draft in trade packages for cornerback Chris Houston, safety Ko Simpson, guard Rob Sims and defensive tackle Corey Williams, all of whom could be starters this season.
BEST PICK: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh — The Lions found their franchise quarterback last year in Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick. They found the lynchpin of their defense this year in Suh, the No. 2 overall pick. After years of making poor picks in the top 10, the Lions seem to have nailed it for the second straight draft, landing the most dominant player in college football. With two other new acquisitions — Williams and end Kyle Vanden Bosch — Suh turns the defensive line from a weakness into a strength.
COULD SURPRISE: Cornerback Amari Spievey — He doesn't have elite speed. But Spievey could make an immediate impact for the Lions because they are thin at cornerback and are focused on improving special teams. Spievey's strength is his physical play. He also intercepted six passes in 26 games Iowa, so he has some ball skills. Unless the Lions sign a veteran — perhaps Adam (Pacman) Jones — Spievey could compete with Eric King, who is coming off an injury, and new arrivals Houston, Jonathan Wade and Dante Wesley.
A closer look at the Lions' picks:
Round 1/2 — Ndamukong Suh, DT, 6-4, 307, Nebraska: Widely considered the best player in the draft, Suh can stop the run and rush the passer. The Lions added a difference-maker in the middle of a defense that has ranked last three years in a row.
Round 1/30 — Jahvid Best, RB, 5-10, 199, California: Best brings speed and big-play ability to a running game that badly needed it. The concern is his injury history. The scary concussion at the end of his college career was just the latest in a series of issues.
Round 3/66 — Amari Spievey, CB, 5-11, 195, Iowa: Though Spievey wasn't the fastest cornerback left on the board, he fit the Lions' profile because he is physical and a sure tackler.
Round 4/128 - Jason Fox, OT, 6-6, 314, Miami (Fla.): Fox figures to be the Lions' third tackle, rotating at left and right behind Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus. He could develop to be the eventual replacement for Backus, who turns 33 in September.
Round 7/213 — Willie Young, DE, 6-5, 251, North Carolina State: Young is athletic, but there were questions about his consistency, toughness and durability in college. He will be a 25-year-old rookie.
Round 7/255 — Tim Toone, WR, 5-10, 175, Weber State: Toone said he has been compared to Wes Welker. He's a speedy, hard-working receiver who also had 95- and 90-yard punt returns for touchdowns in college. He's 25, having done a two-year Mormon mission to West Africa.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
The Packers bolstered their depth at several positions and, in the process, put some of their veteran players on notice.
"I think we've got guys that can come in and make an impact," general manager Ted Thompson said.
Green Bay didn't have an overriding need to address with little turnover from its 11-5, playoffs-qualifying team in 2009. So, the emphasis was more on building for the future.
It's conceivable the Packers won't have a rookie in the starting lineup opening day.
Yet, strong preseasons by offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (first round) and safety Morgan Burnett (third) could make things interesting.
Green Bay lucked out when Bulaga tumbled from being a potential top-10 pick to No. 23, giving it a nice insurance policy for aging left tackle Chad Clifton.
Burnett has the playmaking goods to unseat Atari Bigby.
Defensive end Mike Neal (second round) protects the Packers from possibly losing starter Johnny Jolly, who faces a drug-possession trial, to a league suspension.
Tight end Andrew Quarless (fifth round), if he can avoid further off-field trouble, could be a nice complement to Jermichael Finley and make Donald Lee expendable.
BEST PICK: Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga — A no-brainer of a top pick when the highly regarded left tackle fell to the Packers late in the first round. Bulaga excelled as a three-year starter at Iowa. He is the heir apparent to the aging Chad Clifton at left tackle, perhaps sooner than later.
COULD SURPRISE: Safety Morgan Burnett — General manager Ted Thompson made a rare trade up to get the ball-hawking standout from Georgia Tech early in the third round. Burnett had 14 interceptions in three years. Next up could be taking a starting spot away from injury-prone Atari Bigby.
A closer look at the Packers' picks:
Round 1/23 — Bryan Bulaga, OT, 6-5, 314, Iowa: The first offensive lineman taken by the Packers in the first round since Iowa's Ross Verba in 1997. Verba started at left tackle as a rookie, but Bulaga might have to play the waiting game behind Chad Clifton for a season.
Round 2/56 — Mike Neal, DE, 6-3, 294, Purdue: Hard-nosed player was primarily a tackle in college. Has ideal size to play end in the Packers' 3-4 scheme, but they also will utilize his pass-rushing skills on the inside in their subpackages.
Round 3/71 — Morgan Burnett, S, 6-1, 209, Georgia Tech: A potential rookie starter with a nose for the football in pass coverage who also likes to get physical in run support. Burnett's durability is as impressive - he never missed a game in his three-year college career.
Round 5/154 — Andrew Quarless, TE, 6-4, 252, Penn State: A risky pick for GM Ted Thompson, given Quarless' character issues in college. He was suspended three times in 2007 and ‘08 for drinking and alleged marijuana transgressions before getting right again last year.
Round 5/169 — Marshall Newhouse, OT/G, 6-4, 319, Texas Christian: The three-year starter at left tackle is better suited to play guard at the pro level. Newhouse is quick on his feet for a big man, but his pass-blocking skills are hit-and-miss.
Round 6/193 — James Starks, RB, 6-2, 218, Buffalo: The school's all-time leading rusher is a great unknown after he missed the 2009 season with a shoulder injury. Tall for a back but is an elusive, physical north-south runner. Former star quarterback in high school could give Packers offense a "Wildcat" dimension.
Round 7/230 — C.J. Wilson, DE, 6-3, 290, East Carolina: A bigger, athletic pass rusher who started all four seasons in college. Limitations in space don't make him a good candidate to be moved to linebacker in the 3-4.
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