In an effort to continue to give you something different than you find everywhere else on the Packersphere (I’m not sure this is a term, if it is don’t steal it) (Actually, go ahead and steal it, in fact, let’s get this bitch trending #Packersphere) I’m going to take a unique look at the 1st round of the draft as the NFC North is concerned. This column was inspired by a conversation on this week’s From the Benches, which is being released Sunday Morning. I’ll explain why the teams are picking at the spots that they are, then a projection of who I think they’re going to pick (and why) and finally who I really don’t want them to pick (and why). As of right now, the plan is to give in to the needs of the masses and release my first (and last) 7 round Packers mock on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for the draft.
8. Minnesota Vikings
Why they’re picking at 8: In short, Rick Spielman has run this team into the ground, and to save his job he’s run two head coaches out of town. The Vikings have finished in last place in the division in 3 of the last 4 seasons. Spielman’s greatest failure has been his inability to select a passer and those who can defend the pass. Christian Ponder at 12 overall was a disaster and outside of Harrison Smith Spielman hasn’t taken anyone who can cover anyone. Spielman has hired Mike Zimmer as his head coach and is unlikely to survive any more failure.
Who I think they’re going to take: Darqueze Dennard- I think that Mike Zimmer is going to select his Leon Hall in this spot. He likes to play man defense and currently has no one on the roster that can do so. I know that the Vikings really do need a QB, but I think the way it will fall the Purple will target a Mettenberger/McCarron/Garropolo type in round 2 at 40.
Who I hope they don’t take: Teddy Bridgewater- I believe that Bridgewater is the best QB in this draft and I always have. I honestly think that the Houston Texans are going to regret passing on him, and I really don’t want to see him in Vikings purple. Their defense is still really bad but if they get a serviceable QB it could raise them to a higher competitive level for the next decade, even as Adrian Peterson begins his ride off into the sunset.
10. Detroit Lions
Why they’re picking at 10: I really am going to blame this on Jim Schwartz. I honestly believe that the people in place that are collecting the talent for the Lions are doing a decent job. The team is solid up front on both sides of the ball, appear to have a decent QB in Matt Stafford and have surrounded Stafford with viable weapons. The team completely fell apart down the stretch last season, resulting in the Packers and Bears battling it out for a division in week 17 that the Lions should have been in control of. I still believe that the Lions, not the Bears have the second best roster in the NFC North.
Who I think they’re going to take: HaHa Clinton-Dix- The Lions allowed Louis Delmas to walk this offseason, opening up a hole in their secondary (that isn’t very solid in the first place). While most mockers would have the Lions selecting a corner the ilk of Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard or Kyle Fuller, I believe that the league is starting to place more emphasis on the safety position. The way the Seahawks won the Super Bowl with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, in my opinion, will elevate the value of the safety position in this draft. Clinton-Dix will be the first to go and will give the Lions a center fielder.
Who I hope they don’t take: Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans- I don’t honestly think there’s any way that Watkins will fall to 10. They would have to trade up to select him. There are, however, scenarios in which Evans gets to 10 and pairing him with Calvin Johnson for the next 5 or 6 seasons is not something that I really want to deal with as a Packers fan. I understand that the tandem of Tramon Williams and Sam Shields appears to be formidable, but is anything really formidable enough to stop that?!
14. Chicago Bears
Why they’re picking at 14: Because Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb on 4th and 8 for a TD and the Packers won the division.
Who I think they’re going to take: Calvin Pryor- they really had bad safety play in 2013. They had bad defensive play period, but I think the guy that they really want is Pitt DT Aaron Donald, and I don’t think he’s going to be there. Pryor will bring a physical nature to the Chicago secondary as they start to move into the next phase of Bears defense. The Urlacher-Briggs-Tillman regime is starting to fade away.
Who I hope they don’t take: Aaron Donald- Donald would fit seamlessly into the way that the Bears play defense and would instantly take on the Tank Johnson/Henry Melton role. I would really rather that he was taken before Chicago is able to select him as (even though the Packers have very good guards) I don’t want the Packers to have to deal with him for years to come. A guy like Pryor would be much less of an immediate problem, especially for Aaron Rodgers.