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NEEDS FILLED — With no picks in the first two rounds, the Bears were limited as to what they could address. When their pick finally rolled around at #75 they took the best safety on the board in Major Wright. Corey Wootten saw his stock slip after an injury, but if healthy he might develop into a solid pass rusher opposite Julius Peppers.
NEEDS IGNORED — The Bears’ offensive line is still sub-par, and in a Mike Martz scheme the edges are frequently exposed. Not that there was much immediate help available by the time Chicago went on the clock, but something more than a seventh-round flier (J’Marcus Webb) at the position would have been nice.
BEST PICK — Now more than a year removed from ACL surgery, Wootton might be able to slide inside on passing downs and help immediately.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Adding developmental quarterback Dan LeFevour in Round 6 seemed like a bit of a luxury move, especially with so much invested in Jay Cutler. In that same spot OT Kyle Calloway may have been more ready to help now, or OT Ramon Harewood offered a higher upside than Webb.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — LeFevour was the only skill position player among Chicago’s five picks, and he’s not expected to see the field anytime soon.
NEEDS FILLED — Few teams checked the boxes as effectively as the Lions, and with value to boot. Detroit upgraded both the defensive (Ndamukong Suh, Round 1) and offensive (Jason Fox, Round 4) lines, snagged a quality corner (Amari Spievey) in Round 3, and traded back into the first round to grab a playmaking running back (Jahvid Best) who might have stolen Kevin Smith’s job by the time the incumbent returns from his knee rehab.
NEEDS IGNORED — The Lions have a long way to go before contending, but it’s tough to look at their draft and say they didn’t address a major need. If you really want to quibble, they could have gone OT instead of DT, but the steal of Fox in Round 4 might make that a moot point (Suh/Fox being as good or better than Okung/best available DT in R4).
BEST PICK — Tempting to say Fox or even Best, but when you get the best player in the draft it’s a no-brainer: Ndamukong Suh.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Again, tough to find one here; the Lions grabbed value at every step along the way, including a defensive end with edge-rushing potential in Round 7 (Willie Young). Again, about the only nitpicking to be done is to note that with so much invested in Matthew Stafford they waited until Day Three to upgrade his protection.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Best gives the Lions a threat they haven’t had since... okay, we’ll say it, Barry Sanders. Rare air for Best, but if he’s half as electric in the pros as he was pre-injury in college he’ll be a spark to the Matthew Stafford-led offense.
Green Bay Packers
NEEDS FILLED — Ted Thompson had to be thrilled as OT Bryan Bulaga, whom some thought might go off the board in the first half-dozen picks, fell into his lap at #23. Second-rounder Mike Neal should solidify the end position in Green Bay’s 3-4 defense, and third-round pick Morgan Burnett helps the Pack get younger in the secondary.
NEEDS IGNORED — While the Burnett addition was nice, it didn’t go far enough; with Al Harris and Charles Woodson on the back end of their respective careers, Green Bay needed to add more corners now and failed to do so. The linebacking corps, spruced up with 2009 first-rounder Clay Matthews, also was looking for an infusion of talent that didn’t come on draft day.
BEST PICK — The obvious choice is Bulaga, who could be on the field immediately at guard or tackle depending on how the Packers shuffle their line. But running back James Starks, grabbed in Round 6 with the 193rd overall selection, could wind up being Green Bay’s own steal of the draft.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — The 3-4 end is a tough position to fill, so you can’t begrudge Green Bay the selection of Neal in Round 2 even though it may have been a frame or two early. But that would have been an area to address the corner position, with Amari Spievey and Jerome Murphy still on the board.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Bulaga will have an indirect fantasy impact if he’s charged with protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind side. Tight end Andrew Quarless (Round 5) won’t push Jermichael Finley for significant playing time, but the aforementioned Starks is talented and versatile and could usurp Brandon Jackson as the primary backup to Ryan Grant.
NEEDS FILLED — With Cedric Griffin still working his way back from the knee injury he suffered in the NFC title game the Vikings were almost obligated to take a corner who could play immediately, so they traded out of the first round and would up with the tallest CB in the draft in Chris Cook. Chester Taylor left via free agency, and Minnesota responded by trading up to snag Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart, who can fill multiple roles in the Vikings backfield.
NEEDS IGNORED — The Vikings chose not to address safety play that was at best adequate last season; they also stood pat through four rounds with an offensive line that allowed Brett Favre to be bruised and battered in the NFC championship game last year. Minnesota also passed on a multitude of beefy defensive tackles who could have been groomed to replace Pat Williams — and stepped in if the Williams Wall is suspended for the first month of the season. Finally, with multiple chances to address life after #4 at the quarterback position, the only quarterback Minnesota drafted was sixth-rounder Joe Webb, who will be converted to wide receiver.
BEST PICK — Though he ultimately cost the Vikings both their second- and third-round picks, Gerhart should step immediately into a contributing role in the Vikings offense — be it as Adrian Peterson’s backup, Minnesota’s third-down back, or even as an occasional fullback that would allow the Vikings to shed infamous “12th man” Naufahu Tahi from their roster.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — The most glaring whiff on the Vikings board is their failure to address the future of the quarterback position by passing on both Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy. Such a pick would have meant the current administration admitting what everyone else in football already knows: trading up to get Tarvaris Jackson in 2006 was a mistake.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Gerhart is the only fantasy-relevant pick on the Vikings’ draft board. If he winds up as a goal line alternative to the fumble-prone Peterson he could have sneaky value in TD-heavy scoring systems; otherwise he’s looking at replacing Taylor’s mediocre fantasy numbers (roughly 700 combo yards and two touchdowns last year) and, perhaps more importantly, providing the handcuff insurance for the hard-running AP.