The NFC North is an interesting conference to try and handicap this year.
The Packers have pretty well dominated this conference over the past years, with the Lions showing promise, and the Bears actually playing a bit of spoiler.
Now the Pack is retooling and the Lions and Bears are hoping they have found the pieces to make them a complete team.
Oh, and the Vikings are pretty well rebuilding, but they have some great young talent to go with All Day and the boys.
Kyle Long OL:
Long has the name, and he has the genes, but he was a bit late to the game, having chased a career in baseball first. There were many people who were concerned about how much of a project he may turn out to be, as high as the upside may be. The Bears took a risk on the young lineman and are happy to see him looking like an instant upgrade for their interior line. They aren't sure who will be standing beside him on the right side, but Long is their starting guard.
Jon Bostic ILB:
The football world may have overlooked him when he was at Florida, but they know him now. Bostic is the first in line to fill the seat vacated by Mr. Urlacher's retirement, and he is an enforcer.
Khaseem Greene: OLB:
Have you ever noticed how certain NFL teams just always seem to find players at given positions? The Bears had stood pat at linebacker for near a decade, and this year they took a shot at restocking. Greene is the second part of that. He has worked his way up the depth chart to be Lance Brigg's understudy at OLB. He started as a safety before growing into a Linebacker's body, and that coverage ability is key in today's NFL.
Ziggy Ansah DE:
Ziggy is a freak. If they happened to find 2 D-Ends who are better than him, he has the athletic ability to move to linebacker as well. As he matures, he is going to give the coaching staff in Detroit some very interesting options schematically. For now, he is an upgrade on the edge, and the 4th member of what should be a very disruptive front line.
Sam Martin P:
Meh, he's a punter.
Darius Slay CB:
Slay is a big corner with blazing speed who was productive in the SEC. That is a combination that you can't find outside the first round very often. He has very good hands and instincts, paired with an aggressive approach to the position. He could stand to get stronger and there are concerns about a minor knee injury, but the Lions need him to play, and he will.
Larry Warford G:
Warford is the kind of mountain that can revitalize a rushing attack. That is an area where the Lions are lacking. There is a lot of talk that Warford may start before this season is over, but for now we will put him here.
Michael Williams TE:
Michael Williams is a tackle who can catch the ball. He does not have great speed, but he uses his immense frame very well and catches the ball well and with his hands. He and Brandon Pettigrew give the Lions 2 Tight Ends who can play inline and give some production in the passing game.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Datone Jones DE:
Jones was made to play end in a 3 man front. He is huge and athletic, the point that he gave top overall pick Eric Fisher fits at the Senior Bowl. He is a perfect fit for what the Packers want to do.
Eddie Lacy RB:
The Packers have been looking for a running back for years, and Lacy is a good one. He physical style will be an interesting fit with the spread passing concepts that have become the Packers' bread and butter.
Davod Bakhtiari OT:
They didn't want him to start this year, but with the injuries they have seen on their O-Line, he is the next man up. He is better suited on the right side or inside, with some development left to do, but he is the best they have right now. Aaron Rodgers might have a long season.
Johnathan Franklin RB/KR: Franklin is too talented to keep on the bench, and I look to him in third and long situations as well as returning kicks as a rookie. He and Lacy look to have the Packers setup at RB for a few years.
Josh Boyd DL: Boyd played nosetackle for Mississippi State and has slid into the #2 spot there for the Packers. He is a little bit smaller than is preferred at the Nose, but will give the Packers flexibility to move players around on the line.
Sharrif Floyd DT:
Floyd was supposed be the understudy to Kevin Williams this year, but with Williams knee injury, the Vikings need him to make plays now. He has the talent, having played end in a 3-4 in college and pretty well dominating opponents.
Cordarelle Patterson WR:
Patterson is a raw and rare talent. I look for him to be starting opposite Greg Jennings very quickly, and I would bet dollars that shortly Christian Ponder starts to redeem himself as a QB.
Jeff Locke P:
Xavier Rhodes CB:
Rhodes is a big, fast, DB who played in a complex scheme in college. He should transition easily into the Pro Game, and should be playing in nickel situations from day 1.
Jeff Baca OG:
Baca is a strong and smart Offensive Lineman, but has relatively limited size, and projects to guard. He has already locked in a spot backing up Charlie Johnson, and should be able to fill in at multiple spots until he gets his own.
Everett Dawkins DT:
Dawkins is a powerful interior linemen who has immense potential, but needs to learn some technique. Too often he attacks the middle of his opponent, rather than the edge. The fact that he still wins as much as he does say plenty about his talent.