If I was running the draft rooms in Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota… « Ol' Bag of Donuts

If I was running the draft rooms in Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota...

The last few weeks at OBOD have been dedicated entirely to discussing the upcoming draft as it pertains to the Green Bay Packers.

Makes sense – this is a Packers’ blog, after all.

But there are three other teams in the NFC North, of course, and we’re going to kick off our draft week coverage – seriously, the draft is three days away…holy crap – by taking a look at what those teams could/should do Thursday through Saturday to improve themselves.

(Quick note: I’ll be rolling out a Packers version of this on Wednesday.)

Chicago Bears

Day one: Have everyone over at head coach Lovie Smith’s house to watch game four of Blackhawks/Predators. Study the Blackhawks. Take notes on how to use the draft to build a competitive team, as the Blackhawks did. Feel free to watch game three of Bulls/Cavs during the commercial breaks. Keep Jay Cutler away from the open bar, though.

Day two: During the early part of the evening (i.e., the second round), you can go with either Cubs/Brewers or White Sox/Mariners. Again, you have no picks here and baseball is a good way to pass the time. Personally, I’d go with the Cubs/Brewers game – Adam’s right, I am a closet Brewers fan - but the choice is yours. Once the third round gets rolling later in the night, get excited – you finally get to draft someone!

But who should you draft? Well, you’re lucky in the sense that you’ve got clearly defined needs (offensive line, cornerback and wide receiver). I’d go with an offensive lineman; Cutler’s your biggest asset going forward and you need to protect him much better than you did last season. Ole Miss’ John Jerry should be on the board at pick No. 75 and he’d be a nice fit. He’s an old-school mauler type at 6-feet, 5-inches and 332 pounds. He played right tackle in college, but is likely a guard in the pros. Either way, he’d provide immediate relief to that group.

Day three: I’d hold off on a wide receiver in round four. You’ve got some young talent there (Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashodu) and you should give those guys one more year to see if any of them can turn into a true No. 1 wideout. You need to snag a safety or corner. If you go the safety route, I’d look long and hard at Florida’s Major Wright. He’s raw, but his speed, recovery time and zone skills make him a nice fit for your Cover-2 scheme. As for a corner, UCLA’s Alterraun Verner would work nicely. He’s small (5-feet, 10-inches) and a bit slow, but he’s got great ball skills and knows how to play the zone.

In the fifth round, take either a corner or safety (whichever spot you didn’t address in round four). Round out your draft by taking a wide receiver in the sixth round and a developmental quarterback in the seventh.

Detroit Lions

Day one: First, let me say that – for the first time in my life, seemingly – there appears to be a legitimate plan in place in Detroit, one that doesn’t rely on drafting wide receivers. That bodes well for the future.

I’ve had you taking Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh with the No. 2 pick in each of my mock drafts and I’ll stick with that. He’s a dual-purpose difference-maker and could be a force for the next decade. Suh, Corey Williams and Sammie Hill give you a nice three-man rotation at d-tackle. Those guys, along with Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, will give you a greatly improved d-line next season.

Day two: You have almost no corners. That must be fixed (and for God’s sake, stay away from Pacman!). Alabama’s Kareem Jackson was dominant in a pro-style defense. He brings a real swagger with him and he can play – and make an impact – right away. Take him in the second round. He’ll be around for a long time. 

Now it’s round three and your truly bad offensive line can no longer be ignored. Trading for Rob Sims cleaned things up at the left guard spot. But left tackle Jeff Backus has never been anything special and he turns 33 in September. Luckily for you, your future left tackle resides in-state: Hillsdale’s Jared Veldheer. He’s 6-feet, 8-inches, 312 pounds and boasts the athleticism of a tight end. He could cover Matthew Stafford for the rest of Stafford’s career once he steps in. Some say he needs a year; I think he could be ready by mid-season.

Day three: I like running back Kevin Smith, but more as a dual-option back. You need a true smash-mouth runner to compliment him. He’s a major gamble, no question about it, but Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount would fill that role perfectly. He’d bring great value as a fourth-rounder and I think Jim Schwartz can keep him in line.

Round out your draft with more corner and o-line depth and grab a safety somewhere in there, too, if you can.

Minnesota Vikings

Day one: Before we begin, I just want to reiterate that I hate you.

Okay, with that out of the way, I think you need a corner more than anything. Antoine Winfield is getting older and Cedric Griffin could miss the first six weeks (torn ACL). But I’m just not sure the value will be there. It’s a deep draft at that spot, anyways. Defensive tackle Pat Williams is still very good, but he turns 38 in October. You need to find his eventual replacement. Alabama’s Terrence Cody is a gamble because of his weight troubles, but when you put on the tape, this guy dominates. Cody, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen could be a scary threesome for the next eight-to-10 years.

Day two: We’ve reached the second round and it’s now time to take a corner. Wake Forest’s Brandon Ghee has tremendous speed and is an excellent tackler (he reminds me of Winfield in that sense). His ball skills are a work in progress, but could improve with good coaching.

In the third round, you must fill the void left by Chester Taylor’s departure and find a backup for Adrian Peterson. USC’s Joe McKnight would be a good fit. He’s not an every down runner, but that’s not a big deal – you’ve already got one of those. McKnight has great speed and vision (particularly outside the tackles) and is a very good pass catcher.

Day three: Left guard Steve Hutchinson is an elite player, obviously, but he turns 33 in November. Your other guard, Anthony Herrera, is average. In other words, you could use some depth there. One guy I love as a fourth-rounder is Arkansas’ Mitch Petrus. He’s raw (just converted to guard two years ago), but he’s got the athleticism of a fullback/tight end (the spots he played before his conversion). Plus, he tied the combine record with 45 bench press reps – simply astounding.

I’d round out my draft by looking for depth at safety, outside linebacker and wide receiver.

So there’s my two cents on what the other three NFC North teams should do in the draft.

I can’t wait until later in the week when they take me up on exactly none of it.

-Chris Lempesis

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