NFC North Draft Grades
29. Gabe Carimi, tackle, Wisconsin: The Bears desperately needed an OT, and I believe they got the 2nd best one in this class. Carimi fits that offense perfectly, and should really have an impact for Chicago.
53. Stephen Paea, defensive tackle, Oregon State: Next to OT, defensive tackle was Chicago’s biggest need. The Bears moved up in the 2nd round to address that need with Paea. I am super high on Paea and think that he will plug their hole in the middle perfectly.
93. Chris Conte, safety, California: This is a little high for Conte, but a lot of scouts apparently had him in this range. Chicago needed secondary help, though I think CB was the bigger need.
160. Nate Enderle, quarterback, Idaho: I love this pick of Enderle late in the draft. He looks like a solid developmental prospect and CHI could use a 3rd QB.
195. J.T. Thomas, linebacker, West Virginia: This is a solid special teams and depth pick for Chicago late.
I love the top two picks of this class and think Chicago filled their two biggest needs with impact players. Both Carimi and Paea got underrated, as I felt they should have gone each 5-10 picks earlier. The rest of the class doesn’t excite me too much. I like Enderle, but you already have Cutler’s backup in Hanie so it wasn’t a huge need. Conte and Thomas could offer some depth and special teams work, but I don’t see a ton of impact early on. I was a little surprised the Bears did grab a corner or an interior lineman. Chicago’s guard play was just as bad as their tackle play last season, and Center Olin Kreutz is a 38 year old free agent. While the Bear’s corners weren’t bad last season, is it possible to say you are set at the position when you know you will have to face Aaron Rodgers twice a year.
13. Nick Fairley, defensive tackle, Auburn: I absolutely love this pick as placing Fairley next to Suh is basically unstoppable. DE’s Cliff Avril and Kyle Van Bosch are going to have a field day with all the attention that is being given to the middle.
44. Titus Young, wide receiver, Boise State: The Lions get another weapon to complement Calvin Johnson, but to do so they passed on a number of need players.
57. Mikel Leshoure, running back, Illinois: Leshoure is great value at this pick, but the Lions did have to trade up for it negating much of that value. While I like Leshoure, Detroit could have stayed where they were and taking a nice complementary back later. Was it worth moving up for a back, who likely won’t be a 25+ carry type of player.
157. Doug Hogue, linebacker, Syracuse: OLB was a huge need for the Lions and Detroit got a great late value here in Hogue. Don’t be shocked if he ends up starting quite a few games this season for Detroit.
209. Johnny Culbreath, tackle, South Carolina State: Culbreath is a nice late round value here, but he isn’t likely to impact the Lions this season.
I considered giving the Lions a higher grade given the high quality players they took, but they ignored far too many needs for my liking. I don’t mind the Fairley pick at all, because I think he will be so high impact and make that D-line so good that it will minimize some of the weakness at OLB and CB. My bigger concern is the Young and Leshoure picks. Young is an explosive receiver, but with C. Johnson, B. Pettigrew, T. Scheffler and N. Burleson the Lions were alright when it came to pass catchers. They need need a legit number 2, which will allow Burleson to be a number 3, but I wouldn’t consider it a dire need. As a rookie I have a hard time believing that Young will average more than 4 catches a game (though he might have an impact as a returner as well). Which is a tough sell to me when Detroit could have taken a number of offensive linemen at that spot that could be day one starters. Leshoure is another guy I really like, but how much is he going to play alongside last year’s 1st round pick Javid Best. Leshoure could become the primary back, but Best will still get quite a few carries, and will probably be more involved in the passing attack. I don’t know if trading up for a back makes sense if he is only going to get between 55-65% of the carries. Detroit could have stayed where they were and grabbed a need like a CB/OLB/OL (even if they already addressed it), and taken a quality back (of if they wanted a WR) with the other pick. That back might not be as good as Leshoure, but i’m sure they could have found someone who contributed on 35-40% of snaps.
GREEN BAY PACKERS:
32. Derek Sherrod, tackle, Mississippi State: The Packers number one goal simply has to be keeping Aaron Rodgers upright. Sherrod does that and was a great value pick as well.
96. Alex Green, running back, Hawaii: A bit of a reach here, but Green is a tough inside runner and an excellent pass catcher. He seems to fit their system perfectly so this might end up not being such reach after all.
131. Davon House, cornerback, New Mexico State: House offers good value here and depth. Charles Woodson is still going strong, but his age will catch up with him soon.
141. D.J. Williams, tight end, Arkansas: Another weapon for Aaron Rodgers. Tight end wasn’t a huge need, but this is a great value and I have every confidence that the Packers will find a way to utilize him appropriately.
179. Caleb Schlauderaff, guard, Utah: The Packers needed an interior lineman, and Schlauderaff was one that was getting some solid late round consideration.
186. D.J. Smith, linebacker, Appalachian State: Smith offers depth to the linebacking corps, but this does seem to be a reach pick.
197. Ricky Elmore, linebacker, Arizona: Elmore will probably mainly be used as a situational guy, but he should be a nice pass rushing complement to Clay Matthews.
218. Ryan Taylor, Tight end/FB, North Carolina: Taylor was a ST standout at UNC as well as a FB/H-back. Most thought he’d move to TE, but he is likely to stay at FB if he makes this team. Both Korey Hall and John Kuhn are FA’s so FB could become a need fast for GB. Maybe a slight reach, but his versatility and ST ability could make this a nice pick.
233. Lawrence Guy, defensive end, Arizona State: Absolutely love this pick for the Packers. I simply can’t believe Guy fell this far in the draft. I think he is a great fit at the 5-technique and will have an impact down the road.
The Packers did a great job filling their needs and finding excellent values throughout the draft. Reaching for Alex Green was a bit of a surprise, but it filled a need and he looks to be a good system back for them. This is a perfect draft class for a team looking to compete as I feel that most of these guys (if they can make the team) will contribute.
12. Christian Ponder, quarterback, Florida State: While I thought of Ponder as the best QB in this class, I did feel this was a reach. I don’t buy any of the QB’s as top 15 or even top 20 talents so the Vikes jumped the gun while filling a need.
43. Kyle Rudolph, tight end, Notre Dame: TE wasn’t the biggest need, but Rudolph is a great value at this pick and should give Minnesota another big time weapon.
106. Christian Ballard, defensive tackle, Iowa: Ballard is a great value in the 4th round here, and he should help the Vikings both inside and outside in their 4-3 alignment.
139. Brandon Burton, cornerback, Utah: Another strong value pick here, also when you play the Packers and the Bears 4 times you are going to need your fair share of CB’s.
168. DeMarcus Love, tackle/guard, Arkansas: Great late round pick here. Love was no longer a top 50 prospect, but I thought he’d go somewhere around 125. I think at guard he can start early for them, and be an impact lineman down the road.
170. Mistral Raymond, defensive back, South Florida: Raymond is a solid value pick here, but he will likely be just a backup for his career. It does add depth and ST ability so it is well worth it for a 6th rounder.
172. Brandon Fusco, center, Slippery Rock: Good value here. Fusco is a small school kid, who has big time upside. He showed at the Senior Bowl he can play with the best college had to offer.
200. Ross Homan, linebacker, Ohio State: Homan might never be a starter, but he is a nice backup/ST for this spot.
215. D’Aundre Reed, defensive end, Arizona: Reed was another talented pass rusher from Arizona, and could be a nice situational end for the Vikings.
236. Stephen Burton, wide receiver, West Texas A&M: Burton is an good value pick at this spot and I love his upside. I think he has a shot of contributing early and could be a steal of the draft.
When I first thought of the Vikings Draft Class I really disliked it, but after looking at it more I realized that really only the Ponder pick bothered me, as that was their one reach. Then thinking about it further, while Ponder maybe went 10-15 spots too early, Minnesota landed what I believe to be the best QB in this class, and they didn’t have to trade up to do so. So in the end I can’t knock Minnesota too much and feel they got excellent value throughout this draft class. I would have maybe liked seeing them grab another receiver earlier, but other than that I thought it was a strong class.