Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Apr 2007

Draft Needs: NFC North

Here's the second part of our series on FOX looking at division-by-division draft needs. In the NFC North, it's all about the offensive and defensive lines -- except in Green Bay.

Posted by: Ned Macey on 13 Apr 2007

6 comments, Last at 14 Apr 2007, 12:52pm by Will Allen


by Shooter (not verified) :: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 3:13pm

This is what I love about FO: independent, thoughtful and uncorrelated analysis.

This is the first time I've seen anyone project Gaines Adams at the #2 spot. The Lions really don't need a QB and O-line is a much lower priority to LB, CB and DE. But all you hear is about JT is a lock unless the Millen holds a Calvin Johnson sweepstakes. But that's if they don't covet BQ or JR, blah, blah, blah…. But FO takes a step back and realizes DE is a bigger need.

Ditto for the Vikings. The mainstream media sees that Kenechi Udeze played 16 games and had 0.0 sacks and immediately assumes that DE is the top need. No, actually, it's not. It's WR, QB and OL/LB in that order. DE is a much, much lower priority, probably a second-day project pick. The defense is solid already and really has other needs at LB/CB. FO realizes this, but not the mainstream media blow-hards.

by James C (not verified) :: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 3:38pm

I really don't see the Bears taking a defensive tackle on the first day. Johnson might be suspended but they do have some depth; Harris, Johnson, Dvoracek, Adams, Garay and Idonje is a deeper group than just about any other team in the league. Losing one player doesn't spell disaster, if they do look for depth it will be looking for a value space eater in the fourth or fifth, not a first or second.

There are rumours that Millen is planning to call everyone's bluff and take Johnson in order to trade his rights if no one is willing to pony up enough value before he picks. What do people think of this?

If I were a team like Washington or Minnesota I would just grab Gaines Adams or another pass rusher (knowing that I could happily use that player anyway) and simply offer to swap. There is no way he could actually keep Johnson, just wait for Ford to go beserk when he finds out that he didn't manage to get the trade done.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 5:16pm

The Vikings think Ryan Cook will be an adequate right ot. I have no idea whether they are correct, but he did o.k. against some decent pass rushers with the Packers at Lambeau, in the 16th game, so it isn't an outrageous notion. The players who would fit them best, potential-wise and positionally, in the first round, are Gaines Adams and Calvin Johnson, and neither of them will likely be available, so they may as well just pick the player least likely to be a bust at their number 7 selection.

I don't know who that is, among those likely to still be available, because I don't watch nearly enough collge football. I'm intrigued by Amobi Okoye, due to the reports of how he was very dominant during Senior Bowl week, and because work ethic will obviously not be a concern. I'd like to hear from a long time NFL scout as to how often dt prospects have had a very dominant Senior Bowl week, and then busted out.

Well, Childress is likely going to bet his head coaching career on Tavaris Jackson's development, given Quinn and Russell will very likely be gone, so I hope the FO QB projection system is wrong this time. I can't make up my mind on those guys anyways.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 5:33pm

Shooter, the biggest weakness the Vikings have on defense is stopping the pass, and the best way to defend the pass is to force an offense to consider assigning two players to block an edge pass rusher. It changes everything when a qb has to either hurry a throw or an offensive coordinator has to use two players to handle an edge pass rusher.

Udeze certainly didn't do that last year, although he might see some more explosiveness a year removed form microfracture surgery. Erasmus James likely won't be fully healthy until mid-season. Ray Edwards does show promise, but certainly isn't a guaranteed performer.

On the other hand, the only highly certain performer in this regard available in this draft is Gaines Adams, who will be gone before the Vikings draft. What is also unfortunate for the Vikings is that the only highly certain first year contributor at wr is Calvin Johnson, who will also be gone.

The Vikings should thus just draft whomever is judged to be the least likely to bust out at 7, and pick a couple of wide receivers in latter rounds, and if somebody seems like a sleeper of a pass rusher on day 2, take a flyer on him.

by James C (not verified) :: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 9:03pm

Will Allen

Could you fill me in as to the status of the Vikings LCB and FS spots? Are they considered to be need positions? Most teams in the league would consider Landry an upgrade but how set are the Vikes for the future?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 04/14/2007 - 12:52pm

James, the Vikings had a lot of safeties on the roster already, for either spot, and then they went ahead and signed Mike Doss. They do like both Devonte Edwards and Cedric Griffin as cornerbacks, although both had injury problems. I do get the sense that the current Viings management is not strongly guided by perceived needs, especially in the first round. If they think Landry is going to be a great player, and very unlikely to bust out, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Vikings take him, regardless of their current depth chart.

Like I said, the only two guys with the obvious resumes that match huge gaps on the Vikings roster are Adams and Johnson, and they aren't going to be around when the Vikings get their first crack. Maybe Childress is secretly enthralled with Quinn or Russell, and is hoping one of them falls that far, but that isn't obvious to me, and I have to say that I don't see either of those guys as being in the same class as Vince Young or Matt Leinert, in terms of being very unlikely busts.

Above all else, the Vikings cannot have this pick be a poor one, regardless of position. They are still haunted by the 2005 draft, and unless Williamson and James resurrect themselves, that draft is going to haunt them for a few more years. They MUST draft a guy who is a reasonably decent contributor, or the Loser's Curse likely beckons.