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2011 NFL Draft Recap - NFC North
John Tuvey
May 17, 2011
 

NFC North  |  NFC South  |  NFC East  |  NFC West  |  AFC North  |  AFC South  |  AFC East  |  AFC West

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

NEEDS FILLED — There was no more glaring need for the Vikings than at quarterback, and though many felt 1.12 was a reach for Christian Ponder, Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier believe they got their guy. Minnesota may also have struck gold at another position of need if they can motivate fourth-round defensive end Christian Ballard, whose draft stock plummeted after he tested positive for marijuana at the Combine.

NEEDS IGNORED — If Bernard Berrian is kicked to the curb and Sidney Rice leaves via free agency, it’s going to take much more than seventh-round wideout Stephen Burton to replace them. The Vikings also waited until the sixth round to address their offensive line and perhaps the worst safety tandem in the league.

BEST PICK — Minnesota didn’t have a burning need for a tight end, but getting the best of this year’s draft class at 2.11 in Kyle Rudolph could prove fruitful. Young quarterbacks love having a talented tight end to lean on, incumbent Visanthe Shiancoe is in the final year of his contract, and the Vikings’ new offense could feature more two-tight end sets anyway.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — The Vikings had a shot at both Prince Amukamara and Nick Fairley in the first round but opted to roll with Ponder. Seeing Fairley twice each season with the Lions should make it easy to determine whether that was the prudent move.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — If the lockout doesn’t delay training camp Ponder could be under center for the Vikings’ regular season opener; it’s not like they have much else on the roster. While he’ll spend plenty of time handing off to Adrian Peterson, if Rice returns he’ll have a solid array of targets to work with and could provide fantasy help sooner than expected. Rudolph will still be sharing looks with Shiancoe this season, but his dynasty potential as he develops alongside Ponder is quite solid.

DETROIT LIONS

NEEDS FILLED — The Lions crossed a couple key items off their wish list, namely a running mate for Calvin Johnson (Titus Young at 2.17) and a between-the-tackles back to share the workload with Jahvid Best (Mikel Leshoure at 2.25).

NEEDS IGNORED — Detroit came away from draft weekend without adding a cornerback, an already-thin position that could be gutted by free agency. They also failed to address their offensive line until the seventh round, once again leaving Matthew Stafford to fend for himself.

BEST PICK — While the Lions didn’t exactly need a defensive tackle, Nick Fairley fell right into their collective laps. Teamed with last season’s defensive ROY Ndamukong Suh, Fairley won’t see many double teams and could have just as disruptive an inaugural NFL campaign.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Detroit’s decision to pass on Prince Amukamara and take Fairley isn’t particularly controversial, but it would have filled a bigger need. The Lions also passed up Brandon Harris twice in the second round.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Young might finally be the complementary target the Lions have been seeking for Johnson; while he’s a clear-cut No. 2 to Megatron, he’ll see plenty of single coverage and could be a big-play guy right out of the gate. Leshoure is built to handle the inside stuff; he could wind up with goal line looks, but his biggest role may be keeping Best fresh and injury-free.

CHICAGO BEARS

NEEDS FILLED — Chicago desperately needed help on both the offensive and defensive lines, and with only five picks in this draft they needed to choose wisely. Fortunately for Bears fans, the draft board fell their way as they landed offensive tackle Gabe Carimi in the first round and defensive tackle Stephen Paea in the second.

NEEDS IGNORED — The Bears didn’t have enough picks to address all their needs, so it’s tough to fault them for failing to add cornerback or wide receiver help.

BEST PICK — Both of Chicago’s first two selections were not only solid values but also filled key needs. Carimi should start at tackle opposite J’Marcus Webb (sides to be determined), while bench-press champion Paea replaces Tommie Harris in the middle of the Bears’ defense.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — There weren’t many corners left on the board when the Bears picked safety Chris Conte at 3.29, but they could have opted for Curtis Brown or Brandon Hogan. Similarly, instead of bringing in Nathan Enderle to compete with Caleb Hanie as Jay Cutler’s backup Chicago could have given Mike Martz another target in Ryan Whalen, Dwayne Harris, Aldrick Robinson, or Ronald Johnson.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Aside from Enderle, who isn’t expected to see the field this season, the Bears didn’t add any fantasy players of note. Carimi, however, should be a boon for both the Cutler-led passing game and Matt Forte’s ground attack.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

NEEDS FILLED — The Packers stockpiled 10 picks in this draft, so whatever needs Ted Thompson thought the team might have had were at some point addressed. Of note, Green Bay added a bookend to Bryan Bulaga in tackle Derek Sherrod (1.32); a potential complement to James Starks in running back Alex Green (3.32); and a cornerback value pick in Davon House (4.34) as Charles Woodson’s career winds down.

NEEDS IGNORED — Green Bay spread their 10 picks among nine positions, doubling up only at tight end. If there was a roster itch, Thompson scratched it.

BEST PICK — Randall Cobb was included in some mock first rounds, but the speedy wideout wound up going 2.32 to the Packers. With James Jones a free agent and Donald Driver running on empty, Cobb gives Aaron Rodgers yet another weapon to work with.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — It’s tough to find a round where the Packers would have been better served going in a different direction; they always seemed to find value in their picks. And when you do that with 10 picks, you’re most definitely doing something right.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Cobb could find his path to playing time cleared if Jones isn’t resigned and Driver hangs up his cleats--and of course, any target of Rodgers has fantasy value. Green would stand to benefit of Ryan Grant’s $5 million contract is deemed to pricey and Brandon Jackson leaves via free agency; then the rookie would be the change-of-pace guy to grinder James Starks. D.J. Williams (5.10) is an athletic tight end who could wind up a valuable entity if Jermichael Finley doesn’t make it all the way back from his knee injury.

NFC North  |  NFC South  |  NFC East  |  NFC West  |  AFC North  |  AFC South  |  AFC East  |  AFC West


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