NFL Team Needs: NFC North

The newest segment for NFLMocks is the NFL Team Needs focus.  We are going to bring you division by division team needs and these needs will be updated throughout the offseason and during the actual season.  And after the season is said and done and free agency has settled we will have the areas your team should address when entering the 2011 NFL Draft.  We encourage you to check out our 2011 NFL Draft Player Scouting Reports, 2011 NFL Draft Prospect Big Board, our 2011 NFL Mock Draft, and our 2011 NFL Draft Prospect Position Rankings.

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bearslogo

  1. Interior Offensive Line
  2. Defensive Line
  3. Linebacker

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Thoughts:

The Bears are a team in flux. They have been getting older on both sides of the ball and haven’t brought in a lot of top level talent though the draft the last five seasons. A lot of that has to do with not having first day picks, but not having those picks has forced them to take a slow approach to developing and replacing at certain positions. Offensive line is the most neglected is this regard, particularly at center and guard. C Olin Kreutz has been one of the better centers in the NFL over his tenure, but he is 33 and coming off of either surgery to repair bone spurs or surgery to repair his Achilles tendon, depending on which Chicago newspaper you read. OG Roberto Garza is the next best lineman, and he is 31 and struggles against powerful bull rushes. Not good when he will have to go against NFC North DT’s twice a season. Finding a guy who can play both center and guard should be a high priority. Outside of DE Julius Peppers, the Bears have a whole lot of question marks on their defensive line. Will DE Mark Anderson become more consistent opposite Peppers? Can any of the younger DT’s play better than Anthony Adams? Will they find a position for DE/DT Jarron Gilbert? Will Tommie Harris ever play like he used to or will he have to resort to throwing more punches on the field? The Bears defensive scheme is supposed to rely on the defensive line to be the strength of the entire defense, but right now its questionable at best. The Bears are in need of depth at every position on defense, but they don’t have a cornerback over the age of 30 and have an entirely new safety combination in traded for Chris Harris and newly drafted Major Wright. Where they seem to have a bigger need is at linebacker. No starters is under the age of 30. The top linebacker, Brian Urlacher, lost last season to a dislocated wrist, is 32, and has seen his production slipping since 2006. The back ups are Tim Shaw (on his third team in 4 years), Pisa Tinosamoa (coming off a season ending knee injury with a one year contract), and Nick Roach (good special teamer, not a 16 game starter).

Detroit Lionslogo

  1. Cornerback
  2. Offensive Line
  3. Safety

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Thoughts:

Tough to have anything but optimism when looking at the Lions, but they still have a long way to go. CB Chris Houston was a good pick up from Atlanta and is instantly the best cornerback on the roster. However, he should ideally be the teams number two cornerback because he is good, not great. Third round pick Amari Spievey and CB Jonathan Wade appear to be battling for the other spot, but again, top end talent is needed for a defense that was dead last against the pass last year. The Lion’s also did a good job in acquiring OG Rob Sims from the Seahawks, but like the cornerback position, the top level talent isn’t there on the line. They could use another guard and while drafting OT Jason Fox was a step in the right direction for upgrading the depth of the line, with his injury history and current talent level the Lions don’t want him playing a whole season at left tackle. They’ve made a huge investment in QB Matthew Stafford and would do best to protect that investment by upgrading the talent of their line. We mentioned the Lions were bad at pass defense right? Because they were really bad and upgrading all levels of the secondary will be a priority next season. Safety Louis Delmas had a terrific rookie season, but has a long list of nobodies playing next to him. They have done a good job of addressing the defensive front seven and should do the same with the back end in 2011.


Green Bay Packerslogo

  1. Cornerback
  2. Linebacker
  3. Offensive Line

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Thoughts:

The Packers are widely credited for having the youngest roster in the NFL, but one position where they are a little long in the tooth is at cornerback. The starters have been very talented throughout their time in Green Bay, but Al Harris is not only turning 36 before the end of 2010, he is coming off of a serious knee injury and will not be ready to play at the beginning of the regular season. Its questionable if he is ever 100% again. Charles Woodson is turning 34 this season, but is coming off arguably his best season as a pro. 34 is still pretty old for any position in the NFL and the young talent level behind Woodson/Harris isn’t nearly as good as the current starting combo. The recent defensive switch from 4-3 to 3-4 created a bigger need at linebacker for the Packers. Clay Matthews has proven his worth and looks to have a bright future ahead of him. However, Nick Barnett has had injuries and surgeries each of the past two seasons, A.J. Hawk has been underwhelming as the #5 overall pick in 2006, and everyone else on the roster is better of as subs or package specific. Another rush OLB and a bigger inside linebacker would be a big improvement to their front seven. The Pack lucked out when Bryan Bulaga fell to them this year, but the interior of the line is still largely unsettled with C Scott Wells being the only consistent performer and everyone else is serviceable to good. I am sure Aaron Rodgers would like better than serviceable lineman protecting him.

Minnesota Vikings logo

  1. Quarterback
  2. Offensive Line
  3. Linebacker

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Thoughts:

The common thought amongst Vikings fans is that if this is truly Brett Favre’s last year, the Vikings will have no bigger need than at quarterback. If Brett does retire, it will be the biggest talent hole compared to every other position on the team and the Vikings could have to put together a big package of picks and players to move up high enough in the draft to get their quarterback of the future. It’s still early, but there seems to be one question that I don’t seem to see being asked: When Brett retires, what is going to stop Childress from starting Tarvaris Jackson for at least one year before drafting a quarterback high in the draft? Perhaps next years draft strategy won’t be finding the quarterback of the future, but shoring up the offensive line and skill positions around the QB and depth on defense. Just playing devil’s advocate since its so early because the Vikings really should be looking to add a top level quarterback from the draft in 2011. The offensive line has come under fire this offseason since the running game suffered in 2009 (even though the passing game was significantly better and one is usually better at the expense of the other) and could use better depth and overall talent. First year starters C John Sullivan and ROT Phil Loadholt will get every opportunity to improve, but the other positions are getting older and suffered injuries this past season. OT Ryan Cook and OL Chris DeGeare are capable of playing multiple positions along the line, but neither should be counted on to start for more than a couple of games. The Vikings are pretty set at every starting position, but a future problem area will be at the linebacker position. E.J. Henderson is coming off of one nasty injury for the second year in a row, Ben Leber and Chad Greenway are both in contract years with it likely just one of them gets re-signed, and the depth at the position isn’t ready to step up and be full time starters. A linebacker that can cover tight ends and play zone will be a welcome addition to the defense.

Topics: 2010 NFL Draft, 2011 NFL Draft, 2011 NFL Draft Big Board, A.J. Hawk, Aaron Rodgers, Al Harris, Amari Spievey, Anthony Adams, Atlanta, Bears, Ben Leber, Brett Favre, Brian Urlacher, Bryan Bulaga, Center, Chad Greenway, Charles Woodson, Chicago Bears, Childress, Chris DeGeare, Chris Harris, Chris Houston, Clay Matthews, Cornerback, Defensive Line, Detroit Lions, E.J. Henderson, Green Bay Packers, Guard, Inside Linebacker, Interior Offensive Line, Jarron Gilbert, Jason Fox, John Sullivan, Jonathan Wade, Julius Peppers, Linebacker, Louis Delmas, Major Wright, Mark Anderson, Matthew Stafford, Minnesota Vikings, NFC North, NFL, NFL Team Needs, Nick Barnett, Nick Roach, Offensive Line, Olin Kreutz, Packers, Phil Loadholt, Pisa Tinosamoa, Quarterback, Rob Sims, Roberto Garza, Ryan Cook, Safety, Scott Wells, Seahawks, Tarvaris Jackson, Tim Shaw, Tommie Harris, Vikings

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