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2009 NFL Draft - Team Needs Report - NFC North
The Sports Xchange
April 20, 2009
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Chicago Bears

TEAM NEEDS: Wide receiver, pass-rushing defensive end, offensive tackle, safety, running back.

WR -- The Bears don't have a legitimate go-to guy, and it's still a bit of a stretch to call Devin Hester a No. 2, although if he continues his sharp learning curve, he could be there this season. The only other wide receiver on the roster with NFL experience is Rashied Davis, probably no better than a No. 4 in a good offense. The Bears need a big receiver, one with speed to stretch the field or enough bulk and toughness to work the middle.

Last year, the combined total of the five other wide receivers currently on the Bears' roster -- John Broussard, Devin Aromashodu, Davis, Brandon Rideau and Earl Bennett -- was 35 catches and 445 yards -- all by Davis.

Pass-rushing DE -- Nobody on the team had more than six sacks, and when the Bears don't get pressure with the front four the defense struggles, as it did much of last season and the season before that. Since Mark Anderson has disappeared in the two seasons since he had 12 sacks as a rookie, the Bears could be looking for a situational pass rusher/developmental player in the draft to help out on passing downs initially and perhaps develop into an every-down player.

OT -- Recently signed Orlando Pace will start at left tackle, which means last year's first-round draft pick, Chris Williams, should start at right tackle after missing much of last season following training camp back injury. Williams played a handful of snaps in the second half of last season, mostly on special teams. ORT John Tait has retired, and unrestricted free agent John St. Clair, a 16-game starter at left tackle, signed with the Browns. UFA Frank Omiyale, who started one game in four seasons with the Panthers, is expected to challenge incumbent Josh Beekman for the left guard job. Kevin Shaffer, who was cut by the Browns, should be the swing tackle, but the Bears are in trouble if they have to play him at left tackle.

FS -- Kevin Payne started all 16 games last season, four at free safety and 12 at strong safety, where he's a much better fit. Craig Steltz had been penciled in at free safety until the Bears picked up Josh Bullocks, who could be their answer. Steltz is a better strong safety, anyway. If Bullocks has matured past the brain cramps that have hindered his play in the past, the Bears shouldn't have to worry as much about this spot, but historically the Bears seem to lose more safeties to injury than the average NFL team.

RB -- Matt Forte had an excellent rookie season, but the Bears don't want to have to give him 25 touches a game. Last season they had no choice, since backups Kevin Jones, Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe all represented a major drop-off in performance from Forte. A big, strong, between-the-tackles, short-yardage banger would greatly reduce the wear and tear on Forte.

Detroit Lions

TEAM NEEDS: Quarterback, middle linebacker, guard, defensive tackle, defensive back.

QB -- The Lions hope Daunte Culpepper can regain his form. He has lost weight and rejoins offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, under whom he had his best years in Minnesota. But Culpepper is on a one-year, incentive-laden deal for a reason. Drew Stanton, a second-round pick in 2007, has had little practice time in the NFL, let alone playing time. Drew Henson is the only other QB on the roster.

MLB -- The Lions have a gaping hole. Jordon Dizon was drafted in the second round last year to play the middle, but that was to play the middle in the Tampa Two defense -- and he failed to win the starting job for that staff. Now the new staff wants bigger, stronger players, and Dizon, a smaller, speedier guy, will be a backup on the outside.

OG -- The Lions have been searching for stability at left guard for years, and they could solve it by drafting a left tackle. Jeff Backus, who has started every game at left tackle since he was drafted in the first round in 2001, could move to guard. Or the rookie could start out at left guard.

DT -- The Lions traded Shaun Rogers to Cleveland last year and Cory Redding to Seattle this year. They signed veteran Grady Jackson to plug the middle, but he's 36. And veteran Chuck Darby and two of last year's picks -- Andre Fluellen and Landon Cohen -- were acquired by the previous staff to fit the Tampa Two.

DB -- The Lions' secondary intercepted only one pass last season, and the Lions released the man who got it: cornerback Leigh Bodden. The Lions need help at corner even though they have numbers there, with Phillip Buchanon, Anthony Henry, Travis Fisher, Eric King and Keith Smith. They need help at safety even though they have two second-round picks there: Daniel Bullocks and Gerald Alexander. Bullocks missed 2007 with a torn ACL. Alexander is coming off a fractured vertebra.

Green Bay Packers

TEAM NEEDS: Defensive end, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, tight end.

DE -- The Packers are rolling the dice with an overhaul of the defensive system from a longstanding 4-3 base alignment to the trendy 3-4, and with the change came the movement of Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Kampman to outside linebacker. Green Bay has big question marks on the outside with projected starters Cullen Jenkins, who is coming back from a season-ending pectoral injury, and converted tackle Johnny Jolly, who has a legal issue hanging over him.

DT -- Incumbent starter Ryan Pickett is about all the Packers have to fill the critical role of nose tackle in the 3-4 scheme. Durability and age are concerns with Pickett, who turns 30 in October.

OT -- Venerable right tackle Mark Tauscher has the team's blessing to do his rehab work after January knee surgery at its facilities, but the Packers don't seem inclined to re-sign the unrestricted free agent. Couple that with the fragility of left tackle Chad Clifton, and the bookend positions need addressing.

TE -- The production from starter Donald Lee waned last season, and possible replacement Jermichael Finley had an up-and-down rookie year. So, the position is unsettled.

Minnesota Vikings

TEAM NEEDS: Offensive right tackle, cornerback, wide receiver, center.

RT -- Ryan Cook was the starter for most of last season but the converted center struggled with mental and physical mistakes and lost his job to veteran Artis Hicks at one point. The Vikings need to find some stability at this position and with a draft deep at the tackle position, this would seem to be a good time to address the need. The Vikings were set to go after Carolina's Jordan Gross and Miami's Vernon Carey but neither reached free agency and Minnesota did not appear to have any real interest in the free agents who did hit the market.

CB -- Starting right corner Cedric Griffin recently signed a five-year contract extension and the Vikings are working on an extension for veteran left corner Antoine Winfield, who is entering the final season of his contract. But the Vikings could use a potential starter behind those two and right now the team mostly has players who would be considered more suited to a role in the nickel (Charles Gordon, Karl Paymah and Benny Sapp). Meanwhile, Marcus McCauley, a third-round pick in 2007, saw his playing time decrease dramatically in 2008 and his roster spot appears to be anything but secure. Winfield will be entering his 11th season in 2009 and even if he gets a contract extension the Vikings need to plan for the future.

WR -- The Vikings made a big run at T.J. Houshmandzadeh but the free agent decided to sign with Seattle. The Vikings have a deep threat in Bernard Berrian and a solid possession guy in Bobby Wade but after that there are concerns. Sidney Rice has struggled with injuries and there are questions about whether Aundrae Allison will even make the roster in 2009. This could open the door for a fresh face to enter the picture, especially if that player has the ability to return punts and kicks. Darius Reynaud, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last year, showed some ability on kick returns before getting injured.

C -- The departure of veteran Matt Birk makes 2008 sixth-round pick John Sullivan the likely starter entering training camp. But the Vikings wouldn't mind creating competition for Sullivan. Coach Brad Childress has said that Anthony Herrera could play center, but it's likely the team would like to leave him as its starting right guard. There also is a possibility that Ryan Cook could be moved back to that spot but there is some question about how good of fit the 6-6 Cook would be playing center in the NFL. It's unlikely the Vikings would grab a center early but this area could be addressed on the second day.


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