The NFC North is no slouch people. This is a star-studded division filled with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Julius Peppers, Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen.
So surely with the 2013 NFL Draft in the books that means another talent wave is about the hit the shores of the Great Lakes, right? Looks that way. Everyone brought in a crop of players that could prove to be something special. But who came away with the best of the best? The answer is below.
1.) Kyle Long, T, Oregon
2.) Jon Bostic, ILB, Florida
4.) Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers
5.) Jordan Mills, OT, Louisiana Tech
6.) Cornelius Washington, OLB, Georgia
7.) Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington St.
New head coach Marc Trestman is making the leap from the Canadian Football League to the NFL and did a solid job addressing major areas of need, linebacker and offensive line, in free agency. However, the draft seemed to lack something for the first-year coach. Long could be seen as a reach in the first-round but could prove a reliable starter down the stretch. Bostic and Mills are solid decisions, especially as Bostic helps fill the void left by the departure of Brian Urlacher and Greene providing youth to Lance Briggs’ age. The sleeper is Mills, who as of now is a project, but could develop into a solid starter. He was a two-year starter and never missed a game in that time and has experience at guard as well.
1.) Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
2.) Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi St.
3.) Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
4.) Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina
5.) Sam Martin, P, Appalachin St.
6.) Corey Fuller, WR, Virginia Tech
6.) Theo Reddick, RB, Notre Dame
7.) Michael Williams, TE, Alabama
7.) Brandon Hepburn, ILB, Florida A&M
Addressing needs and not over reaching for anybody? That is as solid as it gets. Ansah will be a Day One starter and provide a much needed pass rush after the line was decimated by free agency. It will also help Ansah, who is new to the position, to work with Jim Schwartz — who coached the Titans defense and created a terrifying defensive line. Slay could also have a legitimate chance to start. Warford adds depth and a future starter if he continues to develop. The Lions lost three starters on the offensive line and Warford could help mend that hit. The interesting pick here is Reddick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed but is a tough player and can play either running back or wide receiver. That kind of versatility in an offense with Matt Stafford sounds like something good could be cooking in Detroit.
Green Bay Packers
1.) Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
2.) Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
4.) David Bakhtiari, T, Colorado
4.) J.C. Tretter, OG, Cornell
4.) Jonathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
5.) Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa
5.) Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi St.
6.) Nate Palmer, LB, Illinois St.
7.) Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley St.
7.) Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland
7.) Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida
I originally was going to give the Packers an B+ because I would have liked them to take an offensive linemen earlier but when you lock up Jones in the first and Lacy in the second, you really can’t argue about anything. Two stellar picks and immediate starters, the Pack hit a grand slam with the first two selections. Then the offensive linemen they did grab (Bakhtiari and Tretter) while they are works-in progress, they are solid talents that could prove to be something solid if not provide strong depth at the very least. Hyde adds depth to corner and Boyd gives the line even more depth at tackle and end in Green Bay’s 3-4 defense. The sleeper here is Franklin. As if Lacy wasn’t enough, the Pack also lucked out with Franklin — a change of pace back who totaled over six yards per carry and went over 1,700 yards his senior season. Looks like Green Bay’s 1,000-yard rusher drought could be over.
1.) Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
1.) Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida St.
1.) Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
4.) Gerald Hodges, OLB, Penn St.
5.) Jeff Locke, P, UCLA
6.) Jeff Baca, OG, UCLA
7.) Michael Mauti, ILB, Penn St.
7.) Travis Bong, OG, North Carolina
7.) Everett Dawkins, DT, Florida St.
Like I said, this is a talent loaded division. The Vikings worked the draft amazingly and addressed their top three needs in the first-round with some of the top talent in the draft. Floyd will pair excellently with Kevin Williams and provide even more pressure from the front four. Rhodes will also be a Day One starter. A well respected man cover corner at Florida State, he will be thrown into the fire having to go up against Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, and Brandon Marshall twice a year each. Patterson, who is still developing, gives the Viks a legitimate number one talent who also has the speed to help the return game. A very subtle pick was that of Hodges. Another prospect from “Linebacker U”, Hodges will provide solid depth and at a very thin position, don’t be surprised if Hodges winds up starting. Hodges had 215 tackles in his two seasons as a starter, along with 11 pass breakups and three interceptions — proving he is just as good in coverage as defending the run.
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