2012 draft redux -- another look around the NFC North

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2012 draft redux -- another look around the NFC North

Grading drafts is never an exact science until a couple years after its conclusion. But it still is fun to pull the camera back just a bit after a month when some OTAs have elapsed and have another look, since these hold the futures of teams.

Mel Kipers 2012 Draft Review just arrived, which is a concise and entertaining look at team-by-team selections, analysis, the round-by-round overall, and a few other nuggets relative to the picks and their teams.

The Bears still get the lowest of the grades in the NFC North, a C based pretty much on the absence of any offensive line help anywhere in the draft. Mel isnt high on late picks Isaiah Frey or Greg McCoy but the Bears already added cornerback help with veterans Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite.

The first four picks, however, do rate fairly high on Mels scales, which is interesting because the other three NFC North teams receive B grades despite some real questions that warrant watching in the next season or two:

Detroit Lions

The Lions picked Iowa tackle Riley Reiff No. 1 as a projected successor to Jeff Backus at left tackle. Reiffs stock dropped precipitously leading up to the draft, in part because the evaluations were that Reiff is more a right tackle. That shouldnt be quickly dismissed, because the Bears made a minor miscalculation that direction with Marc Colombo and Chris Williams (assuming the latter doesnt re-emerge as a left tackle this year). Not bad picks, just not ones that solved a major franchise problem.

But Detroit also used its No. 2 pick on Oklahoma wideout Ryan Broyles, whose 2011 season ended with a torn ACL. Images of Marc Bradley come to mind.

Mels key conclusion here is that the Lions didnt come away from the draft with much in the way of immediate contributors. That translates into a potential draft whiff if none of Detroits last six picks, all on defense, create a major splash above their draft slot.

Green Bay Packers

The need area for the Packers was defense and the first six picks went to that side of the ball. The top two USC rush linebacker Nick Perry, Michigan State tackle Jerel Worthy get right to the point of winning up front.

Perry vs. Reiff may not happen every play twice a year, but it could provide a clear winner in the 12 draft, Green Bay or Detroit.

Minnesota Vikings

The simple reason for a B grade here is that the Vikings traded down high in the first round and still got exactly the player they wanted in USC tackle Matt Kalil. And a bad secondary got two additions from Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith late in round one, safety Robert Blanton who project as upgrades, and having former Bears DB Leslie Frazier as a head coach wont hurt.

All of it is still some months away from really meaning a lot. But drafts are worth monitoring, and Mel even gets next years started with some thumbnails of players to watch for the 2013 draft.

(Copies of the Draft Review can be ordered through Mel Kiper Enterprises at 800-696-4558)

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

CSN's David Kaplan and David DeJesus discuss the upcoming matchups in this edition of the Cubs Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

Maybe a four-game series with the N.L. East-leading Washington Nationals will help the Cubs take off. 

It did last year. 

The Cubs swept the Nats early last season, boosting themselves into first place in the National League - a position they wouldn't relinquish. More than a sweep, though, a positive series is vital for a team that continues to hover around .500. 

To do so, Joe Maddon's pitchers must somehow slow the Nationals offense, which has managed to push across more runs than any team in the majors. 

After D.C., the Cubs are off to Cincy for a three-game set with the Reds. 

Watch David Kaplan and David DeJesus preview the upcoming matchups in the video above.