The 2012 NFL Draft had many exciting moments with many early and intriguing trades, questionable calls and late round steals. The NFC North unleashed picks on secondary and the defensive help as there were only 11 offensive picks made in the entire division. Lets start with the Division Champion Green Bay Packers.
Round 1 – Nick Perry / DE
Round 2 – Jerel Worthy / DT
Round 2 – Casey Hayward / CB
Round 4 – Mike Daniels / DT
Round 4 – Jerron McMillian / S
Round 5 – Terrell Manning / OLB
Round 7 – Andrew Datko / OT
Round 7 – B.J. Coleman / QB
What immediately stands out about the Packers 2012 draft class are the first six picks. From the first round to the fifth round, the Packers spent their pick on defense and although GM Ted Thompson said it was not intentional, there isn’t anything wrong with the way the Packers drafted. They had the league’s worst defense last year and gave up more yards in the secondary on average in league history.
- Addressing the first pick in the draft, Nick Perry is the missing link in the Packers front seven as they were one of the worst teams last year in getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Clay Mathews often found himself getting double teamed, and Erik Walden who was usually featured as the opposite side linebacker to Mathews lacked in production. Perry fills that hole at outside linebacker.
- Jerel Worthy was another one of those great picks to fill in missing holes on the Packer’s defense. When Worthy was available in the middle of the second round the Packers traded up to grab him. Many gave him a first round grade and he fits the Packers 3-4 defensive scheme quite perfectly as a defensive end. Worthy could very well be the starter come week one as Mike Neal will serve a four game suspension for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. Neal is a former 2nd round pick who has been plagued with injuries and still is yet to prove himself in the NFL.
- The Packers traded up two more times, once in the second round for cornerback Casey Hayward who fills holes and adds depth to the Packers secondary, and for outside linebacker Terrell Manning who started to slip in the 5th round. All in all, the Packers had a total of 6 defensive picks adding to all three tiers of their defense, and finished off the draft with a couple of 7th round picks on the offense, including quarterback B.J. Coleman who will be competing for the backup job in Green Bay.
Round 1 – Riley Rieff / OT
Round 2 – Ryan Broyles / WR
Round 3 – Dwight Bentley / CB
Round 4 – Ronnell Lewis / OLB
Round 5 – Tahir Whitehead / OLB
Round 5 – Chris Greenwood / CB
Round 6 – Jonte Green / DB
Round 7 – Travis Lewis / OLB
The Lions addressed their main needs, but that’s about all they did in this draft. Everyone knew that the Lions needed secondary help and a couple of offensive linemen to keep Mathew Stafford upright.
- By drafting Offensive Tackle Riley Reiff, it helps your long term investment in Mathew Stafford stay upright and healthy. It was a great round one selection as Reiff was the number two offensive tackle in the draft. He managed to slip down to the 23rd overall spot, and the Lions did not hesitate to select him. Many speculated that the Lions would address the secondary with their first pick but there was not any value at the position for the Lions at the time.
- The Lions second round pick was very interesting. They selected Wide Receiver Ryan Broyles, a very talented player who had first round talent. Many had Broyles as a 4th to 5th round selection due to his recent ACL tear he suffered in November. But none-the-less, the Lions saw past his injury and drafted him on his pure talent. One thing to be noted about this selection is that the Lions are fairly deep as it is at the receiver position. Broyles may fill in at the number three or four spot on the roster.
- The rest of Lions’ draft was understandable but puzzling at the same time. They went on to select players at positions with great need being their secondary and line backing core, but that is all they really did. With their final six selections, the Lions drafted three additional cornerbacks, and three additional outside linebackers. You can’t blame the Lions for addressing the secondary with three picks since they haven’t drafted a cornerback in any round since 2008. But drafting three outside linebackers in which Ronnell Lewis could be the only solid prospect out of the three is a bit questionable.
Round 1 – Shea McClellin / OLB
Round 2 – Alshon Jeffery / WR
Round 3 – Brandon Hardin / S
Round 4 – Evan Rodriquez / FB
Round 6 – Isaiah Frey / CB
Round 7 – Greg McCoy / CB
The Chicago Bears came into this draft with needs at wide receiver, offensive tackle, and defensive secondary. When eye-balling their draft selections, you could say they hit on many of those needs. But their is a big problem with which position the Bears did not address that could cost them this next season.
- Many speculated that McClellin would be drafted by the division rival Green Bay Packers. The Bears saw otherwise and selected McClellin before the Packers could get their hands on him. He was the first defensive player selected by the Bears in the first round since 2004. The pick makes sense as he adds to an aging defense in Chicago, and will be playing with Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, and Lance Briggs, players with years of experience. McClellin brings intensity at his position and can be compared to players like Clay Mathews and Brooks Reed.
- With the off-season acquisition of Brandon Marshall, some thought the Bears would look elsewhere in the first three rounds. They went out and drafted another weapon for Jay Cutler in Alshon Jeffery. Early mock drafts had Jeffery as a first round talent but problems with his weight and his combine numbers had him slide to the second round. He’s a big physical receiver who will go up and get the ball, but if he packs on any more weight, he may as well be a tight end.
- The surprising story for the Bears was how they went about ignoring the offensive line. Jay Cutler has been punished in the last couple of seasons as his offensive line has done a poor job protecting him. Although they drafted Gabe Carimi in the first round of the 2011 draft, there were still holes in the line. If any team wants to win in this league, they must keep quarterback up right and healthy; the Bears must seem very content with who they have for this up coming season. Otherwise, the Bears may have found a starting safety in Brandon Hardin, and addressed more secondary needs with later round picks at cornerback.
Round 1 – Matt Kalil / OT
Round 1 – Harrison Smith / S
Round 3 – Josh Robinson / CB
Round 4 – Jarius Wright / WR
Round 4 – Rhett Ellison / FB
Round 4 – Greg Childs / WR
Round 5 – Robert Blanton / CB
Round 6 – Blair Walsh / K
Round 7 – Audie Cole / ILB
Round 7 – Trevor Guyton / DE
The Minnesota Vikings may have won their draft among their NFC North counterparts. Before the draft started, the Vikings traded one spot back with the Cleveland Browns in order for the Browns to secure Trent Richardson. In return, the Vikings received an extra 4th, 5th, and 7th round draft pick. Then the Vikings went to work.
- By drafting Matt Kalil at offensive tackle the Vikings have solidified their left tackle position for at least the next decade. He was the best tackle in the draft but even better yet, he protects your first round investment from last year’s draft in Christian Ponder. This was the best direction the Vikings could have taken and that’s what they ultimately ended up doing even though there was speculation that they would draft number one cornerback Morris Claiborne instead.
- Another great selection the Vikings had was when they traded back up into the first round to select Notre Dame Safety Harrison Smith. He was the second rated safety in this draft and the Vikings desperately needed a body at that position. They found their man in Smith, as he will be the starter for them at the start of the season.
- The Vikings went on address more secondary help at cornerback to counter the elite talent at quarterback in their division. But the interesting story coming from this Vikings’ draft class are the two receivers they drafted in the 4th round. Both Jarius Wright and Greg Childs have been best friends since elementary school. They both played wide receiver together in high school and vowed that they would attend the same college to play football. They attended the University of Arkansas together and continued their dreams to one day get drafted in the NFL. During the 4th round of the draft, the Vikings selected Jarius Wright. At that point, both thought that their careers together would be over and that they would go their separate ways. Surprisingly enough, the Vikings then selected Greg Childs in the same round.
Written By – David Rantisi- NFL Draft and NFC North Writer
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