2011 NFL Draft Needs: NFC North

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (C) and teammate Clay Matthews (L) celebrate their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers after the NFL’s Super Bowl XLV football game in Arlington, Texas, February 6, 2011. Rodgers was voted MVP of the game. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

2011 NFL Draft Needs: AFC East | AFC North | NFC East | NFC North

No. 12 Minnesota Vikings
Team Needs: QB, DT, DE, S, LB
Leslie Frazier has plenty of holes to fill in his first draft as head coach of the Vikings, perhaps none bigger than at quarterback. Brett Favre won’t be back and if Tarvaris Jackson is re-signed (which is a big “if”), he certainly won’t be handed the starting job. If Ryan Mallett or Cam Newton slips to Minnesota at No. 12, they’re definite possibilities to land in the Twin Cities. Defensively, Pat Williams probably won’t be back and it’s doubtful the Vikes see either Jimmy Kennedy or Letroy Guion as potential starters alongside Kevin Williams next year. On the outside, free agent Ray Edwards racked up eight sacks in 2010 but his production has dropped and thus, the Vikings have a reason not to break the bank to retain him this offseason. Everson Griffen and Jayme Mitchell have flashed their potenital, but can either be counted on as a starter opposite Jared Allen? At safety, Madieu Williams isn’t likely to be brought back and the Vikes could use a ballhawk to go along with either Husain Abdullah or Tyrell Johnson. The recently released O.J. Atowge might be a possibility via free agency.
First Round Possibilities: Cam Newton (Auburn), Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Akeem Ayers (UCLA), Robert Quinn (North Carolina), Marcell Dareus (Alabama), Cameron Jordan (Cal), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Von Miller (Texas A&M).

No. 13 Detroit Lions
Team Needs: CB, OT
The Lions acquired Chris Houston and Alphonso Smith last year but seeing as how they play in a division that features two explosive passing attacks in Green Bay and Chicago, Detroit needs to continue to add pieces to its secondary. They should have a chance to land one of the top 3 corners (Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, Brandon Harris) at No. 13 and if someone like Amukamara falls in their lap, I can’t see the Lions passing on such a highly touted prospect. Staying on the defensive side of the ball, this team needs more playmakers at the linebacker position. The Lions have already told Julian Peterson that he won’t be back and while the team may re-sign Bobby Carpenter, he’s best served as a backup. On the other side, Landon Johnson is unlikely to return as well after being placed on I.R. in late December. It seems like Detroit usually enters drafts needing to target linebackers and this year is no exception. Offensively, the line is improving and isn’t a pressing need but the team could stand to add depth.
First Round Possibilities: Patrick Peterson (LSU), Prince Amukamara (Nebraska), Brandon Harris (Miami), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), Nate Solder (Colorado), Greg Jones (Michigan State), Akeem Ayers (UCLA), Von Miller (Texas A&M), Bruce Carter (North Carolina), Mike Pouncey (Florida), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), Anthony Castonzo (Boston College).

No. 29 Chicago Bears
Team Needs: OL, DT
Just like the Lions when it comes to linebackers, it seems like every year the Bears enter the offseason in need of offensive linemen. Frank Omiyale really struggled at left tackle and would be a better fit as a backup. J’Marcus Webb also struggled at times on the right side, although his ceiling is much higher than Omiyale’s and will be given another chance to start. Inside, former first round pick Chris Williams found a home inside and Roberto Garza is solid in the run game, but is this the year the Bears finally replace Olin Kreutz in the middle? He’s 34, a free agent and isn’t the same player he was years ago, so even if they do bring him back with a hometown discount, they need to find his replacement at some point. I hate to sound like everyone else that classifies this position as a “must need,” but the receiver position needs to be upgraded as well. Johnny Knox can make plays from time to time but he’s not a receiver that goes up and gets the ball in traffic. I know teams can get away with guys like Knox and Devin Hester in Mike Martz’s offense, but when he was most successful running his scheme he had Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Defensively, I wonder if Tommie Harris has played his last down in Chicago. If he doesn’t take a pay cut, will they dump him and save the salary? The Bears want Anthony Adams (a free agent) back, but whether they keep Harris or not the defensive tackle position must be addressed. Say what you will about Jerry Angelo’s poor drafting in the first round, but he can find gems in the middle of the draft and that’s where I expect him to address the D-line position. (Especially seeing as how the draft is deep in defensive linemen this year.)
First Round Possibilities: Tyron Smith (USC), J.J. Watt (Wisconsin), Julio Jones (Alabama), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Michael Floyd (Notre Dame), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), Nate Solder (Colorado).

No. 32 Green Bay Packers
Team Needs: LB, G, DE
The nice thing about winning a Super Bowl (uh, besides winning the Super Bowl) is that you know you can win a title with what you have. That said, every team can stand to improve in some areas. For the Packers, adding another pass-rusher opposite Clay Matthews would be ideal. Desmond Bishop played well in Nick Barnett’s absence and if they keep A.J. Hawk, then GB is fine in the middle. Matthews is obviously beast on the outside and while guys like Frank Zombo and Erik Walden are suitable starters on the opposite side, giving Dom Capers another pass-rusher would make his zone blitz scheme even more lethal. Offensively, Daryn Colledge is a free agent and is doubtful to return. He’s been referred to as the weakest link on the Packers’ offensive line and there have been reports that the coaching staff isn’t high on him. T.J. Lang and Jason Spitz are options to replace him, but don’t rule out Ted Thompson finding his future starter at left guard in the first round. Another possibility is for Thompson to draft an offensive tackle, just as he did last year with Bryan Bulaga. Chad Clifton had a solid year but the end is near and the Packers will eventually need to groom his replacement.
First Round Possibilities: Mike Pouncey (Florida), Marcus Cannon (TCU), Danny Watkins (Baylor), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Nate Solder (Coloardo), Akeem Ayers (UCLA), J.J. Watt (Wisconsin).

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