2012 draft redux -- another look around the NFC North

2012 draft redux -- another look around the NFC North
May 31, 2012, 5:50 pm
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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)