My favorite weekend of the year is coming up, and it’s not because my first day is part of it. The NFL draft kicks off on Thursday night with first round selections, then Friday rounds two and three with four through seven taking place on Saturday. To put it in Comic terms, its like the weekend when the X-Men editors get together and decided which mutants are on the Blue team, which go Gold and which are Red. Making a selection in the draft is not easy. Experts study all the players coming out of college, trying to find their strengths and weaknesses both on and off the field and trying to predict how they’ll project as a professional and rank them based on all the other players available. From there a team makes their decision based on those rankings and their particular needs. Just because someone is the best player available doesn’t mean they’re right for the team choosing at that point. And need can make a team reach on a player not as good as some of the ones available. Need is why quarterbacks are always taken higher than their ranked. So going into the weekend, knowing what your team needs may help you figure out who they’ll take. Here are the basic needs for the NFC North:
CHICAGO BEARS – They finally have their face of the franchise with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky entering his second season, now they’ll want to focus on keeping him upright and healthy and the best way to do that would be a brand new offensive guard to replace the departing Josh Sitton. The team has their two starting corners locked in, but could use a nickel corner and depth at the position in case of injury. After that they should focus on depth on the defensive line, both run stuffers and edge rushers, and maybe a new inside linebacker with some speed. Middle linebacker has always been an important position for the Bears and keeping an eye out for the next great one should be a regular thing.
DETROIT LIONS – The Lions are a middle of the pack team that needs quite a bit of help at various positions. Matthew Stafford would be aided a lot in his game with a reliable tight end to open up the middle of the field, but the team has missed twice on drafting TE’s early and are still in that position. They also have been having a lot of injuries at runningback, so depth there is crucial if they want to prevent putting everything on Stafford’s arm. On the defensive side of the ball, the team could use an edge rusher to put pressure on their opponents quarterback and then some help in the linebacking corps.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – Everyone seems to agree that the biggest need for this team is cornerback, which is saying something as they have repeatedly used early draft picks on corners only to have them disappoint. They have last years rookie, Kevin King, still adjusting to the NFL, but the consensus says they need to bring in another. I could see the team addressing it later in the draft, tired of being burned, and focusing on their needs at wide receiver and/or linebacker before that. They’ve also had a lot of injuries on their offensive line, so adding another big body for depth there would make a lot of sense.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS – The Vikings secured their quarterback position by bringing in Kirk Cousins to lead a team that ran deep into the playoffs with a back-up last season. But they’ll need to give him time in the pocket and people to throw to, so expect them to address the offensive line early and try to pick up a wide receiver and/or a tight end. They could also use some help on the defensive side of the ball where some depth at linebacker and corner is in order. The other question they need to address, having let Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford go… who is going to back up Cousins?