NFC North team needs

John Murphy

Yahoo! Sports has broken down the needs for each team heading into the NFL draft on April 28-29 in New York City.

NFC East | NFC South | NFC West


Chicago Bears
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 31 (1), 37 (2), 94 (3), 130 (4), 168 (5), 221 (7), 241 (7)

OT: Fred Miller is 34 years old and fellow tackle John Tait is 32, so an early play for someone like Joe Staley or Tony Ugoh is possible. If they wait until the third round, names like James Marten, Julius Wilson or Adam Koets could surface as players that fit into the mold of what they are looking for up front.

CB: This would be a pro-active choice as the Bears could lose both Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman to free agency a year from now. And even though Devin Hester is determined to prove his worth as a corner, his responsibilities could be restricted to return specialist … and/or wide receiver (see below). There has also been some talk of moving safety Danieal Manning outside, but that would require him to make better decisions while the ball is in the air. The depth of the cornerback position could allow them to make a move on someone either early in the second round or as late as the fourth round and still find a competent defender.

WR: For all the criticism of Rex Grossman, fans and media coverage fail to mention that the Bears have had a very average set of receivers over the past few years, even with the injection of speedy Mark Bradley and versatile Bernard Berrian. The front office has shied away from using top picks on this position, but if one fell to them at No. 31 they would likely evaluate their options. They have added a veteran safety and defensive tackle in recent weeks, so pushing receiver up the draft board is a definite possibility. However, there has also been some talk internally about moving Hester to the offensive side of the ball, but whether it would be a permanent move has not yet been decided.

TE: The 37th overall pick could be right around the range for Arizona State’s Zach Miller, but that might be too high for the Bears considering their other needs. However, if they wait too long – as was the case last year – they could find themselves eyeing a list of lower-tier tight ends that would be hard pressed to earn a final roster spot.

RB: Cedric Benson has had some durability issues, plus he has put the ball on the ground and has failed to finish his runs with the same type of intensity he showed while in college. Aside from Benson, they would like to use Adrian Peterson mostly on special teams and Gerald Riggs, Jr. is their only reserve back on their current roster. As a result, investing a mid-round choice on a change-of-pace back like Darius Walker is a consideration. Though, if they address this need earlier, Florida State’s Lorenzo Booker is a perfect fit.

Detroit Lions
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 2 (1), 34 (2), 66 (3), 101 (4), 139 (5), 145 (5), 158 (5), 255 (7)

DE: In order to make this unit more consistent, they need a pass rusher who can thrive in a division with turnover-prone signal callers such as Grossman and Brett Favre. The need for a pass rusher is heightened by a lack of playmakers in the secondary following the offseason trade of cornerback Dre’ Bly.

CB: Even if Stanley Wilson picks up his game, dealing Bly has created a hole on the outside. Ideally, they need to find a pair of solid defenders they can develop into strong contributors the way teams like Chicago and the Philadelphia Eagles have done in recent years.

LB: This is an area of emphasis as they continue to grow in the mold of how head coach Rod Marinelli would like to see his defensive unit look. The name to remember here is Justin Durant, who has the speed, range and instincts to be an impact player in their Cover 2 scheme. The Lions would have to take him with their second-round pick as three or four other teams are chasing him.

QB: Jon Kitna was solid last year when given enough protection and support through the ground attack, but passing on the chance to take a potential franchise quarterback could be problematic. A likely scenario here is that the Lions will trade back from No. 2 overall with the ultimate goal of getting a pass rusher and future signal caller out of their first two picks. Remember the name Trent Edwards.

OT: They re-signed left tackle Jeff Backus and then acquired a possible solution for the right side in the form of George Foster, but overall they lack quality depth at tackle. The staff questions whether Joe Thomas is a bona-fide stud at tackle, so unless they can get him by trading down, expect them to possibly draft someone capable of playing either tackle spot. Also, the signing of veteran guards Zach Piller and Edwin Mulitalo could lead to former starter Damien Woody being released on June 1.

Green Bay Packers
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 16 (1), 47 (2), 78 (3), 112 (4), 157 (5), 193 (6), 228 (7), 235 (7), 243 (7)

RB: The Packers' staff is making more believers in the belief that it feels comfortable entering training camp with a combination of Vernand Morency as the potential starter, and Noah Herron and a draft choice battling for playing time. If that is the case, the Packers will likely pass on a first-round back and wait until later to draft someone, possibly Kenny Irons, Brandon Jackson or Chris Henry.

CB: This position needs to be addressed so that they can line up better against three- to four-wide receiver sets. They have two good starters and are hopeful that '06 fourth-rounder Will Blackmon will develop. The Packers can afford to take someone in the second or third round because they would prefer a defender along the lines of Michael Coe, Tarell Brown, David Irons or C.J. Gaddis.

TE: With Bubba Franks slowing down and David Martin departing via free agency, the time has come to find a pass-catching threat down the middle that can help spread the field for Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. If they do not have a chance at Greg Olsen in the first round, they could opt for players like Ben Patrick, Clark Harris or Martrez Milner between rounds 3 and 4.

WR: Outside of Driver and Jennings, the team has no real depth at this position although former undrafted free agent Ruvell Martin shows signs of being a capable reserve when healthy. The Packers would like to find someone that is more of the physical, possession type, and could also opt to add a second receiver that could add some punch to their return game later in the draft.

S: They added veteran Marquand Manuel a year ago via free agency, but he did not produce nearly enough big plays. Nick Collins continues to grow, but finding a prospect with better range, speed and ball skills to challenge Manuel for playing time would improve the pass-coverage ability of the entire secondary.

Minnesota Vikings
Team needs:
Overall pick/round: 7 (1), 41 (2), 72 (3), 106 (4), 146 (5), 182 (6), 217 (7)

S: Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith were supposed to provide the Vikings with veteran leadership and big plays. Instead, both were beaten over the top way too many times and missed tackles in the open field last year. An active playmaker that has the ball skills to create turnovers is a required addition in order for their defense to improve. If LaRon Landry is available, he could be their main target. If not, they could opt to deal down a few choices and take Reggie Nelson or hope someone falls to them at No. 41.

WR: The tenuous relationship between former first-round pick Troy Williamson and the new staff resulted in him finishing in the doghouse at season’s end. However, he spent the offseason working to find out if his drops/inconsistency might have been related to an issue with his vision or the lights inside the dome. Either way, they cannot just write him off and spend another high draft choice on this position. I fully expect the Vikings to draft a receiver on day one, but the risk of making a second mistake with another top-10 choice is too much for them to overlook.

DL: Too many people forget that they have a pair of former high draft picks (Kenechi Udeze and Erasmus James) coming back from injuries. While there is a need for quality depth, the addition of another situational pass rusher would more than likely come in the middle rounds of the draft. Quentin Moses, Brian Robison or a hybrid like Antwan Barnes are all possibilities.

CB: This is likely an area they can address in the second stream of free agency starting June 1. The release of veteran Fred Smoot a year after losing former starter Brian Williams means that youth will be served at this position, so they could use a savvy veteran nickel back. However, their overall depth is also suspect so a late-round guy will probably cross their minds.

TE: The newly installed offense from last season created a glaring need for more of a pass-catching threat, which disappeared when Jermaine Wiggins signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. If they pass on a guy like Zach Miller early, names like Scott Chandler, Clark Harris or Joe Newton could come up later in the draft.