NFL

NFL Draft Review: Lions bolster offence in NFC North

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The Sports Network
5/13/2014 12:52:44 PM
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Chicago Bears

1 (14) - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech; 2 (51) - Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU; 3 (82) - Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State; 4 (117) - Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona; 4 (131) - Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota; 6 (183) - David Fales, QB, San Jose State; 6 (191) - Pat O'Donnell, P, Miami; 7 (246) - Charles Leno, Jr, OT, Boise State

Top Picks Analysis: The Bears needed help on all three levels of their defense and ended up going for a cornerback, Virginia Tech's Will Fuller, before bolstering the defensive line with back-to-back defensive tackles in Ego Ferguson of LSU and Will Sutton of Arizona State.

Fuller isn't as fast as the draft's top corner, Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert, and not as physical as former Michigan State star Darqueze Dennard but he may have been the most NFL ready, at least according to draft analyst Mike Mayock.

"I thought he was most NFL-ready cornerback I saw on tape," Mayock said. "In run support, he reminds me of (Kansas City Chiefs cornerback) Brandon Flowers when he came out of Virginia Tech. Fuller can play nickel corner on Day 1."

GM Phil Emery then carpet-bombed his three-technique issues with the unrefined Ferguson and the athletic but often out-of-shape Sutton.

Best Value Pick: Fourth-round safety Brock Vereen is a blazing fast, rangy free safety with the cover skills to make a difference at a position which is a big need in the Windy City. He's also got the bloodlines as his father Henry was drafted by Tampa Bay before playing in the Canadian Football League, and his brother, Shane, is a running back for the Patriots.

Questionable Calls: Yeah, Charles Tillman is aging but the bottom line is that the Bears still have "Peanut" and Tim Jennings on the outside while the far-less inspiring Ryan Mundy and Chris Conte are currently penciled in at safety. Taking Fuller while the draft's two top safeties -- Louisville's Calvin Pryor and Alabama's Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix -- were available is going to be put under a microscope in the Windy City, especially if Fuller struggles early.

Summary: It's no surprise that all of Chicago's picks during the first two days were used on defense but the Bears needed more than a nickel back and competition for Jay Ratliff.

Final Grade: C

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois; OT James Dunbar, TCU; DT Brandon Dunn, Louisville; LB Christian Jones, Florida State; LB Devekeyan Lattimore, South Florida; LB Tana Patrick, Alabama; DT Lee Pegues, East Carolina; TE Cody Booth, Temple; G Ryan Groy, Wisconsin

Detroit Lions

1 (10) - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina; 2 (40) - Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU; 3 (76) - Travis Swanson, OC, Arkansas; 4 (133) - Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State; 4 (136) - Larry Webster, DE, Bloomsburg; 5 (158) - Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton; 6 (189) - T.J. Jones, WR, Notre Dame; 7 (229) - Nate Freese, K, Boston College

Top Pick Analysis: The biggest need in Detroit was on the back end of the defense but the Lions stayed true to their board at No. 10 overall and added athletic North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron to a loaded list of offensive playmakers which already includes Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Reggie Bush and Brandon Pettigrew. It's going to be all about outscoring people in Motown this season.

The Lions did add some defense in the second round with versatile BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who figures to solidify the SAM spot next to Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy.

Detroit then brought in Arkansas center Travis Swanson as the heir apparent to the 35-year-old Dominic Raiola.

Best Value Pick: The Lions are set at receiver with Johnson and Tate but sixth-round pick T.J. Jones is an accomplished playmaker on the college level who eventually could turn into a solid slot receiver.

Questionable Call: Ebron seems like a luxury pick for a team with plenty of holes on the other side of the ball. Detroit may have been in no man's land when it comes to defensive talent at No. 10 but GM Martin Mayhew could have traded down, added a pick or two and gotten a better fit for his team.

Summary: Whatever you believe, it's going to be very difficult for opposing defenses to match up when Johnson, Ebron, Bush and Tate are on the field together. Meanwhile, Van Noy and Swanson figure to be solid contributors in time.

FINAL GRADE: B

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: QB James Franklin, Missouri; TE Jacob Maxwell, Louisiana-Lafayette; S Gabe Lynn, Oklahoma; OL D.J. Morrell, Old Dominion; S Jerome Couplin, William and Mary; WR Andrew Peacock, App State; OT Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State; FB Chad Abram, Florida State; OG Alex Bullard, Tennessee; OG A.J. Dalton, Robert Morris; DT Greg Hickman, Florida International; CB Mohammed Seisay, Nebraska

Green Bay Packers

1 (21) - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama; 2 (53) - Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State; 3 (85) - Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Miss; 3 (98) - Richard Rodgers; TE, California; 4 (121) - Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State; 5 (161) - Corey Linsley, OC, Ohio State; 5 (176) - Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin; 6 (197) - Demetri Goodson, CB, Baylor; 7 (236) - Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State

Top Picks Analysis: Packers GM Ted Thompson had four picks in the first three rounds and did some nice things with them, snaring perhaps the best safety in the draft, potential replacements for James Jones and Jermichael Finley, and help for the front seven on defense.

Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the No. 21 overall pick, is a natural center fielder and will fit in nicely opposite Morgan Burnett as Green Bay's last line of defense.

Second-round WR Davante Adams is a big, physical wide receiver who should fit in nicely as Aaron Rodgers' third option after Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, while third-round tight end Richard Rodgers has had some weight issues and is not going to be nearly as explosive as Finley but he will help fortify a need position.

Finally, defensive tackle Khyri Thornton will bring high energy to a group that badly needs it.

Best Value Pick: Fifth-round wide receiver Jared Abbrederis of Wisconsin is a NFL-ready route runner with a lot of blue-collar traits who could develop into a nice fourth for fifth receiver for Aaron Rodgers.

Questionable Calls: Richard Rodgers has pedestrian speed and even shakier short-area quickness so it's hard to imagine him developing into anything more than a Y in-line tight end.

Summary: This was a mixed bag but it looks like the Packers hit it big at the top with Clinton-Dix and Adams before things got far shakier.

FINAL GRADE: B

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: LB Joe Thomas, South Carolina State; QB Chase Rettig, Boston College; G John Fullington, Washington State; CB Ryan White, Auburn; RB Rajion Neal, Tennessee; LB Jake Doughty, Utah State; DL Carlos Gray, North Carolina State; TE Justin Perillo, Maine; LB Jay Elliot, Toledo DT Mike Pennel, Colorado State-Pueblo; RB James Sims, Kansas; OL Jordan McCray, Central Florida; OL Bronson Irwin, Oklahoma; LB Adrian Hubbard, Alabama; S Tanner Miller, Iowa; DE Denico Autry, Mississippi State; DB Demetruce McNeal, Auburn

Minnesota Vikings

1 (9) - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA; 1 (32) - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville; 3 (72) Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State; 3 (96) - Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern; 5 (145) - David Yankey, OG, Stanford; 6 (182) - Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech; 6 (184) - Kendall James, CB, Maine; 7 (220) Stephen Shamar, DT, UConn; 7 (223) Brandon Watts, OLB, Georgia Tech; 7 (225) - Jabari Price, CB, North Carolina

Top Pick Analysis: Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has been criticized a lot for missing so badly on Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft. Now it's time to give him credit for learning from his mistakes.

Spielman has now amassed seven first-round picks in the last three NFL drafts -- Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith in 2012, Shariff Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and the explosive Cordarrelle Patterson from last year, and now Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater in 2014.

Barr is raw, spending just two years on defense at UCLA after flipping from running back, but his athletic skills are off the charts and some look at him and think Jason Taylor.

"I've never had a linebacker, even thinking back to my Dallas days, that has the size and speed and all the things that this guy has," Vikings first- year head coach Mike Zimmer when talking about Barr.

The key to the Vikings draft, though, will be Bridgewater because Minnesota needs the answer at the game's most important position. That said, getting a player with the 32nd overall pick who was once considered a top-five-level prospect is a prudent gamble.

"There is no pressure on this kid to come in and play," Spielman said. "We're very comfortable with Matt Cassel right now. We're very comfortable with Christian Ponder. He'll come in and compete and then the coaches will determine if he's even ready to play this year."

Third-round defensive end Scott Crichton, meanwhile, is tailor-made for Zimmer's rotational style of defense up front, and the insanely-gifted Jerick McKinnon will be given every opportunity to replace the departed Toby Gerhart as Adrian Peterson's caddy.

Best Value Pick: It remains to be seen if he's athletic enough but fifth-round offensive guard David Yankey is a physical, road-grader who could push Charlie Johnson at left guard for the Vikings

Questionable Calls: McKinnon has frightening physical gifts but he is a very raw player and it's going to be difficult to get him on the field except in very manufactured situations.

Summary: Spielman had done a nice job adding talent, especially in the guts of the draft. Now, he's just got to get the quarterback position right and Bridgewater's fate will ultimately define this draft.

FINAL GRADE: B

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: WR Kain Colter, Northwestern; C Zac Kerin, Toledo; OL Austin Wentworth, Fresno State; TE A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State; DE Tyler Scott, Northwestern; OT Pierce Burton, Ole Miss; DE Jake Snyder, Virginia; RB Dominique Williams, Wagner; OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee; OT Matt Hall, Belhaven; WR Donte Foster, Ohio; DE Rakim Cox, Villanova; OL Austin Wentworth, Fresno State; OL Connor Bofeli, Iowa; WR Erik Lora, Eastern Illinois



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