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May

Around the NFC North: 2013 NFL Draft Edition

Vikings first-round draft pick Shariff Floyd.

Vikings first-round draft pick Shariff Floyd.

The Packers used the 2013 NFL Draft to finally address the running back position and add a much-needed player on the defensive line. What were the Packers division opponents up to in the draft?

Well, two of them used fifth-round selections to take punters and another drafted an offensive lineman in the first round that most analysts pegged as a second or third rounder.

Those were a few of the moves that made people scratch their heads. But it wasn’t all bad in Vikings/Lions/Bears land. Let’s take a trip around the NFC North to see how the Packers’ rivals used the draft to (maybe) close the gap and challenge Green Bay for a division title in 2013.

Minnesota Vikings

The Picks:

1 — Sharrif Floyd, DT Florida
1 — Xaveir Rhodes, CB Florida State
1 — Cordarelle Patterson, WR Tennessee
4 — Gerald Hodges, LB Penn State
5 — Jeff Locke, P UCLA
6 — Jeff Baca, G UCLA
7 — Michael Mauti, LB Penn State
7 — Travis Bond, OG North Carolina
7 — Everett Dawkins, DT Floriday State

The Breakdown:

Just when it looked like the Vikings might be on the right track, they draft a punter in the fifth round. A punter! In the fifth round!

Ok, a fifth-round pick isn’t going to make or break a draft, but c’mon. A punter! In the fifth round!

Until that happened, the Vikings were doing some good things. At first glance, the trade to get a third first-round pick seemed like a horrible idea. Minnesota gave up a lot to move up and pick a receiver, a position you can usually fill later in the draft.

But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. How often do you have a chance to pick three players in the first round? Rarely. General manager Rick Spielman had some extra picks to work with so he was able to make the deal. When the draft was over, the Vikings still ended up with nine players, even after the trade. That’s a fair balance of using several picks to build depth and making a move that is risky, but could pay off.

Despite making the playoffs last season, the Vikings still need to be thinking long-term. I don’t think the trade altered that long-term mindset at all.

Sharrif Floyd is a tremendous value late in the first round. He was the best player on the board at that point in the night and will fill in nicely when Kevin Williams is likely gone after this season.

Xavier Rhodes and Cordarelle Patterson address immediate needs. The Vikings need all the help they can get in the secondary to try and contain the Packers and Lions passing attacks, especially with Antoine Winfield off the team. We all know how bad the Vikings receivers were last season. Any help in that area would be more than welcome.

Middle linebacker is probably the Vikings biggest remaining hole. They’re a little weak at guard as well (but with Adrian Peterson carrying the ball, who cares?). I also think safety leaves a lot to be desired despite Harrison Smith’s impressive rookie year.

The Vikings ran their 2013 draft the same way they run their organization: Make a big splash that may or may not work (trade) and do something really dumb that leaves people scratching their heads (punter in fifth round). Business as usual for the folks who like to wear golden braids and blow their own horns.

But if two of the Vikings three first-rounders develop into good players, watch out. Minnesota is stashing some interesting young players that could develop into blue-chippers.

Detroit Lions

The Picks:

1 — Ziggy Ansah, DE BYU
2 — Darius Slay, CB Mississippi State
3 — Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
4 — Devin Taylor, DE South Carolina
5 — Sam Martin, P Appalachian State
6 — Corey Fuller, WR Virginia Tech
6 — Theo Riddick, RB Notre Dame
7 — Michael Williams, TE Alabama
7 — Brandon Hepburn, LB Florida A&M

The Breakdown

Because when you have an opportunity to draft a punter from Appalachian State in the fifth round, you have to do it…

I’ve been hearing for the last three years about how scary the Lions defensive line is. As soon as Ansah was picked, everyone once again started talking about how scary the Lions defensive line is.

Sure the Lions defensive line is good, but good enough to contain Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson and make up for other deficiencies on the team? Nah.

Will the addition of Ansah change that answer from nay to yay? I don’t think so, but if he’s used right, he’ll have an impact. I don’t see Ansah as an every-down player, at least not right now. Put him out there as a pass-rusher in sub-packages for about 30 snaps per game and I think he’ll do some damage.

Thanks to the addition of Jason Jones and fourth-round pick Devin Taylor, the Lions defensive line may indeed become scary if managed correctly. Is Jim Schwartz capable of managing anything correctly?

Darius Slay has a knee injury that will probably linger into training camp. The Lions always need help in the secondary so you’d think they would avoid defensive backs with potential injury issues. Being 6-feet and possessing speed to run the 40 in 4.36 seconds goes a long way in helping teams get past injury concerns.

We know Jim Schwartz does a pretty good job of developing defensive linemen. Now it’s time to find out if he can develop anything else. With the right rotations on the defensive front, the line could go from good to great and maybe finally become as scary as everyone thinks they are.

Maybe…

Chicago Bears

The Picks

1 — Kyle Long, G Oregon
2 — Jonathan Bostic, LB Florida
4 — Khaseem Greene, LB Rutgers
5 — Jordan Mills, T Louisiana Tech
6 — Cornelius Washington, DE Georgia
7 — Marquess Wilson, WR Washington State

The Breakdown

All I’ve been hearing is how Kyle Long wasn’t a good “value” at 20th overall. I’ve got news for you: Coaches don’t care about value as it relates to draft position. They want guys who can play.

I think Long can play, and play right away. If you see a guy that you think can play and will be a good player, then pick him. Value be damned. I suppose you could try and trade down, but it takes two teams to trade. Perhaps the Bears didn’t like what was being offered.

I see Long playing guard right away, then one day moving to tackle or center because of his athleticism.

The Bears could always use help on the offensive line, but they’re biggest need is at linebacker after Brian Urlacher was shown the door. Jon Bostic should fill in nicely inside. In a perfect world, Khaseem Greene or Cornellius Washington will one day take over for Lance Briggs, but we’ll see if that actually pans out.

I’m surprised the Bears didn’t take a quarterback in the mid to late rounds. New coach Marc Trestman would have probably welcomed a development project and the Bears could use some insurance in case contract negotiations with Jay Cutler take a turn for the worst.

Are the Bears close to returning to the playoffs or are they in some type of rebuilding mode? The answer to that question depends on how Trestman and Cutler click, not so much on this draft class.

My gut tells me the Bears are rebuilding, but we’ll see.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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20 Responses to “Around the NFC North: 2013 NFL Draft Edition”

  1. Crefan says:

    The Vikings with a punter in the 5th round? Not exactly Al Davisesque but pretty damn close.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • steve cheez says:

      At least they didn’t trade up to grab him in the 3rd…

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

      • Mojo says:

        Elevating Sherman to GM was Harlan’s worst decision as Packer president. Looking back did Sherman even give a f*** about the draft? I consider what TT did to clean-up that mess the most impressive part of his run as GM so far.

        Because of the three quality first rounders I consider the Queens draft pretty good. Plus they still had 6 more picks. The Lions draft – meh. The Bears and the Bears draft still suck.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Batavia Greg says:

    One can nitpick about picking a punter in the 5th round, but overall the Vikings nailed this draft. They came out of the draft much stronger and certainly will be a contender next season for the NFC North Championship.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

    • Adam Czech says:

      Let’s not forget that it took a 2,000-yard rusher for the Vikings to contend last season. Peterson is good enough to repeat that performance, but it’s doubtful he will.

      If Peterson “only” runs for 1,300 yards instead of 2,100, will Christian Ponder be good enough to make up the difference?

      If all three first-rounders make an immediate impact, then yes, the Vikes will be tough. But it usually takes a year or so for defensive linemen and receivers to come into their own.

      We shall see…..

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    • Dobber says:

      Patterson is a head-scratcher. He’s not ready to play a big role, so in 2013, they look about like they did in 2012 with an added body in the rotation at DT. Rhodes replaces Winfield, but I don’t see him as being an upgrade in 2013.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Stroh says:

      I’m not sure the vikes nailed it. I know at first glance it looks like they did. All their picks have really high bust potential.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

    • Stroh says:

      Heres the thing about the vikes draft. Each pick has high bust potential.

      Floyd was thought to be a great DT, he has top shelf athleticism, but as a DL for his size his arms are amazingly short. I complained about Jones having short arms (less than 33 in) but Floyd’s are even shorter at less than 32 in. That means he is going to have a very difficult time disengaging from OL. Maybe not so much in college, but in the NFL that could easily be his downfall.

      I initially liked the Rhodes pick, but the vikes play that Tampa cover 2 scheme, which is a zone concept. Rhodes is great in press man, but is very inexperienced in zone and lacks the quickness needed to be a quality zone player. He might bust due to scheme and his lack of quickness.

      As for Patterson, he is known to be an exceptional athlete and playmaker w/ the ball in space, but he is very unrefined as an overall WR prospect. Again, he has loads of potential, but high bust potential due to his completely unrefined WR skills.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Nick Perry says:

      The vikings won’t be playing a 3-13 schedule this season and Peterson is not going to come even close to to that yardage again. I can’t wait to see Jennings face when Ponder throws yet ANOTHER pass over his head! The Floyd pick was a steal but the Patterson is your typical boom or bust pick. I say bust, at least in Minnesota. He had some issues in school, what’s going to happen when you give problem children millions?. I’ll take the Packers first 5 picks over the Queens. I’m not crazy about what Ted T has done the two drafts before this one, but IMO he nailed this one. Both in need and value.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

    Hard to find a lot of fault in the Vikes draft. Patterson is a project. Fantastic athlete, but not a natural WR.

    Ziggy Ansah as a top 5 pick? There were guys available with a lot less question marks than him. As a Packer fan I was happy with that pick. He could develop and be fantastic, but of all the players in the top of this draft he has the most bust potential. He had 4.5 sacks last year…

    Kyle Long was a reach. If you take a guard in the top 20 he should be dominant. A warmack type player. Long has a lot of tools, but he is a little oolder as well. It will be interesting to see how he does.

    All in all, the Vikes appeared to have the best draft, with three first round picks it would be hard to pick somone over them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • Dobber says:

      Ansah drops into Cliff Avril’s spot on passing downs. Avril could make things happen, but was undisciplined. I see Ansah as being an upgrade, even though I was surprised to see his name come up.

      The pick of Long, to me, signals rebuilding and the start of the retooling of the OL in Chicago. They needed a body there, so it’s hard to fault them with picking a DL. Bostic was a solid pick, and Khaseem Greene is an animal. The defense might go through growing pains in 2013, but they have playmakers.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Brian says:

    I think you could make the argument that the packers had the best draft in the NFC North.

    Sure the Viking got 3 first round picks. There first pick is more then likely going to sit on the bench for a year. Look at the impact most corners that drafted in the first have in there rookie year. There third pick is going to need the most development of them all. Exspecially if you consider whos throwing him the ball.

    I dont really like the Bears or Lions first round picks.

    I am sure the division games will be tuff but I can’t see any team really pushing the Packers this year.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  5. Jim says:

    “I’m surprised the Bears didn’t take a quarterback in the mid to late rounds. ..and the Bears could use some insurance in case contract negotiations with Jay Cutler take a turn for the worst.”

    Exactly why the draft is all about value. Maybe coaches don’t care about value but GM’s do. They didn’t have the extra pics to trade back up when the more talented QB’s run occurred in the fourth round.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Dobber says:

      This was a particularly weak QB class, anyway. I suspect that might have had something to do with it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. James says:

    One should never draft a WR in the first unless he has A++ talent and you should not draft a punter in the fifth. WR’s simply do not touch the ball enough to pick ahead of lineman and linebackes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  7. CSS says:

    Time will tell with the Vikings. The last time a team had 3 first-round picks, 2001 St. Louis Rams, they chose:

    - Damione Lewis (DT) – played only his rookie contract and wasn’t resigned after playing only 29 of 69 games.

    - Adam Archuleta (S) – played well under his rookie contract but left via free-agency only to flame out of the league with little success elsewhere.

    - Ryan Pickett (DT) – solid 2 down player that only played his rookie contract and then departed via free-agency.

    The Rams were ‘lauded’ for those picks as well only to not have a single member of that 1st round draft class stay with the organization. And I love Pickett, but 2-down lineman should never be round 1 picks. It has to kill an organization to not see 2nd contracts with 1st round picks in the salary cap era.

    Maybe Minnesota hit it big, maybe they’re the Rams all over again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  8. Barutan Seijin says:

    Shermie’s OK draft picks: Aaron Kampman, Scott Wells, Corey Williams, Nick Barnett, Hunter Hillemeyer, Javon Walker + a couple other guys who stuck around longer than average whose names i’m forgetting. Lots of misses, though. And BJ Sander.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. BrianD says:

    The Vikings drafted Floyd to replace Williams, Rhodes to replace Winfield, and Patterson to replace Harvin.

    If all 3 pan out, did they really get any better or did they just move forward laterally as an organization?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0