2013 NFL Draft: Grades for the NFC North

By Tom Pollin
April 30, 2013 5:44 am
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Through three days and seven rounds, 35 players have been added to the rosters of the four teams in the Black & Blue Division. Some choices can be considered a reach but we’re a couple of years away from seeing who in this group will meet their team’s expectations and who will fail to perform at the NFL level. What can be evaluated is how well each team did in addressing their roster needs as they made their selections.

Presented in reverse order of their 2012 finish in the standings, same as with the draft, here’s a look at what each team accomplished over the three days of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Detroit LionsZiggy Ansah

Round 1, Pick 5 – Ziggy Ansah, Defensive End, BYU; Round 2, Pick 36 – Darius Slay, Cornerback, Mississippi State; Round 3, Pick 65 – Larry Warford, Guard, Kentucky; Round 4, Pick 132 – Devin Taylor, Defensive End, South Carolina; Round 5, Pick 165 – Sam Martin, Punter, Appalachian State; Round 6, Pick 171 – Corey Fuller, Wide Receiver, Virginia Tech; Round 6, Pick 199 – Theo Riddick, Running Back, Notre Dame; Round 7, Pick 236 – Michael Williams, Tight End, Alabama; Round 7, Pick 245 – Brandon Hepburn, Linebacker, Florida A&M

Overall: The Lions charged from the starting gate with the No. 5 pick by addressing their needs at defensive end by selecting Ziggy Ansah, then went back to the position in round 4 with Devin Taylor, a tall, strong prospect out of South Carolina. They took a reach in the second round to pick cornerback Darius Slay over prospects who were rated higher and were available at that pick.

On offense they took advantage of Larry Warford slipping into the third round by grabbing him with their pick at No. 65. The Lions spent the rest of their picks on offense by adding depth at running back, wide receiver and by drafting blocking tight end Michael Williams from Alabama.

Best Pick: Round 1, Pick 5 – Ziggy Ansah; With Kyle Vanden Bosch released and Cliff Avril heading to Seattle the Lions used their first round selection to grab one of the highest rated defensive players available in the draft.

Worst Pick: Round 5, Pick 165 – Sam Martin, Punter; while 2012 punter Nick Harris had the worst Yards per Punt average in the NFL, selecting a punter in the fifth round is an extravagance when the Lions were in the bottom half of the NFL in both points scored and allowed in 2012.

Grade: C

The Lions lost left tackle Jeff Backus to retirement and right tackle Gosder Cherilus to the Colts. They have Riley Reiff to fill one of their open tackle positions but still haven’t addressed the opposite side, either through the draft or free agency. Safeties Louis Delmas missed eight and Erik Coleman missed four games due to injuries in 2012 but the Lions passed on the chance to add depth at the position to add a running back, wide receiver and blocking tight end (who may end up being their other tackle prospect at this point).

 

Chicago Bears

Round 1, Pick 20 – Kyle Long, Guard, Oregon; Round 2, Pick 50 – Jon Bostic, Linebacker, Florida; Jon BosticRound 4, Pick 117 – Khaseem Greene, Linebacker, Rutgers; Round 5, Pick 163 – Jordan Mills, Tackle, Louisiana Tech; Round 6, Pick 188 – Cornelius Washington, Linebacker, Georgia; Round 7, Pick 236 – Marquess Wilson, Wide Receiver, Washington State

Overall: The Bears began the process of addressing their needs on the offensive line in free agency and brought in two more linemen in the draft. First round selection Kyle Long is the son of Hall of Fame defensive end Kyle Long and brother of Rams defensive end Chris Long and possesses the same height and strength that runs in the family. Fifth round pick Jordan Mills boosted his draft stock during Senior Bowl week to put himself on the Bears’ radar. Also on offense, wide receiver Marquess Wilson could be a seventh round steal. He was a playmaker at Washington State before a dispute with head coach Mike Leach led to him leaving school halfway through the 2012 season.

On defense, the Bears drafted three linebackers to begin rebuilding a position where they failed on nine picks in 11 years under former general manager Jerry Angelo. Jon Bostic is a hard-hitting inside linebacker who will compete with D.J. Williams in the middle during training camp. Khaseem Greene and Cornelius Washington are both strong and fast with starting potential on the outside. All three should make immediate contributions to special teams.

Best Pick: Round 4, Pick 117 – Khaseem Greene; NFL.com had Greene rated high because of his athletic ability and speed. The Bears were fortunate he was still available to them in the fourth round.

Worst Pick: Round 1, Pick 20 – Kyle Long; Long has the size and strength to start on the offensive line but only has one season of experience playing major college football. His success potential is high but so is his bust potential.

Grade: C+

With only five picks heading into the draft the Bears made the most of them. They were even able to acquire a seventh round pick in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons to add a potential downfield target for Jay Cutler. What drops them from a B to a C+ is for the second straight year they made their first round selection based on potential. Shea McClellin, No. 19 overall in 2012, has yet to show he can be an every down starter in the NFL while the jury will be out for a couple of years on whether Kyle Long possesses that ability. For a team that continuously failed to draft starters in the first round under Jerry Angelo, that’s unacceptable.

 

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By Tom Pollin
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Previous Comments (12)

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18 months ago
Tom, you know I respect your opinion...but either you got it wrong or 100% of the other 6-7 draft grades I have read got it wrong on the Packers. Worse I have seen is an A- I think. Datone Jones will start on day one and the two back the Packers got will easily be the 1-2 punch they need. They grabbed two large o-lineman as well as more talent on defense. They even found hidden WR gems in the 7th, Johnson being a guy I expect to be playing regularly in 4 WR sets by mid-season and being an injury away from starting! I think you forget how often the Packers move guys around on the o-line as well.

MINN definitely had the best draft (although I think Floyd falling to 23 was their best pick [even though I had CP as the #1 WR in the draft]) but the Packers were no where near a B-.
18 months ago

It is possible I got it wrong, it's bound to happen someday (joke). My main focus was not to predict which picks would become productive players on each team. My goal was to see how well each team used the draft to fill team needs.

I agree with you about Datone Jones. By drafting him the Packers get a potential starter while also sending a message to B.J. Raji that he better be ready to up his game in 2013. They did a great job filling 2 needs with one pick.

Did you consider that maybe moving players around on the O-line isn't a positive. Since Rodgers became the starter in 2008 he's been among the top 10 of most sacked quarterbacks in the NFL, except for one season. Care to guess? If you said the Packers' Super Bowl winning season of 2010 you'd be correct. They did pick up two offensive linemen but both are projected by NFL.com to be better prospects at guard than tackle. Yes, they added more depth at wide receiver, where they were strong anyway even without Jennings at the cost of not doing more to build talent into their offensive line. Remember, the Packers are one Aaron Rodgers injury from Graham Harrell stepping in as the starter at quarterback.

I also give them credit for grabbing a cornerback in the fifth round but think the could have used more help in the secondary. I know Woodson was hurt a lot of last season but he still started seven games. Who do they pair up with Burnett at safety next season and what do they do if either are lost to injury. Safety is a position where they could have used more depth and didn't address it.

With the draft over I'll be interested to see what moves Ted Thompson still has up his sleeve prior to training camp. At this time, considering what I believe they didn't address, I have to stand by my grade of B-.

A quick response on the Vikings; Floyd was an easy decision for them when he dropped to No. 23. The reason I believe Patterson was their top pick was that it took the balls of a riverboat gambler for Spielman to jump back into the first round to grab him.
17 months ago
Clearly you had no idea who the Packers have on R and the practice squad. Datko, remember that name. The Packers draped the ball thinking that Sherrod would be ready to go last year and starting season with 7 O-Lineman. Franklin is such a ood back he may start over Lacy. EVERY OTHER draft site, expert, whatever you guys call yourselves thought Franklin was steal! As soon as I saw Patterson listed as the Vikings "Best Pick" I knew you usually cover figure skating.
17 months ago

If you, or anyone else, is grading any team's draft based on performance projections then you're as expert about football as you are about spelling. The only way you can grade a team on their 2013 draft is on how they went about trying to fill their needs and I judge that they made positive moves but missed in an important area.

The Packers are so confident that Franklin is such a "ood" back that they selected him 64 picks after drafting Lacy. Both may end up being what they're projected to be, both may be busts, what's certain is that both won't spend much time fixing what was the Packers' biggest problem last season.

Rogers spent more time on his back last season than a $20 hooker and you're hinging your hopes for the solution to that problem on a tackle who's spent most of his career injured and a practice squad player? Sherrod still has a chance to be a part of the answer, I'm sure Rodgers sleeps better at night thinking about Datko protecting him (sarcasm).

As for the Vikings and Patterson, the judgement of him as the Vikings' best pick isn't based on whether or not he's going to be the receiver he's projected to be, it's because the Vikings filled two big needs in the first round, then made the bold move of trading back into the first round to fill another major weakness of theirs from 2012.

If you can't understand that then listen to me long enough to encourage you to put your money on Kim Yu-Na of South Korea to repeat as Women's world champion in 2014.
17 months ago

Well gosh Tom, I'm sorry I missed the G in GOOD! If you actually had a clue, you'd realize who the Packers drafted, who they have coming back, and 18 sacks that Rodgers endured were a result of him holding onto the ball instead of throwing it away or being careless with the football. Now if we're throwing insults around why don't you step away from the dinner table because the triple chin you have going isn't very appealing. Oh by the way, when you line up the receivers the Vikings did last season I think the word you're looking for is desperate, not bold!
17 months ago

First, it's called proofreading Nick. Take a second and try it. Second, I guess you're saying the Packers' real need is at quarterback? I'm going to let you're statement just sit there for all to see. No further response necessary.

Third, you have crossed the line. I'm not even going to report your defamatory comments about my appearance. I'm going to let them sit there on this page so all can see what an ignorant a you are! Unless you're actually willing to MAN UP and apologize for turning a sports argument into a personal attack any further comments you make will be treated as not worth bothering with!
17 months ago

In addition, it's very easy to hide behind a blank .avi and hurl insults about someone's appearance. Some may say you were being a coward...not me, of course.
17 months ago
Tom, fantastic article and although it doesnt look like other draft grades, to me it rings true. One thing that caught my eye was the best and worst picks. I wasnt sure about jeff locke, admittedly I havent done any research on him but I noticed kluwe struggled last year. I agree with patterson in the sense that he has the highest upside. It seems to me, that he could either be the best or the worst on this list depending on if he lives up to be the old '84' (moss) or ends up as another williamson.
17 months ago

Thank you Bo. Kluwe had a very bad year for a punter last season, especially as a punter who's home stadium is domed. The Vikings were No. 20 in Average Yards per Punt, No. 17 in Net Avgerage, No. 31 Punts downed inside the 20 and 6th in No. of punts returned. Jeff Locke did above average work at UCLA as a punter and has the potential to improve on those numbers but fifth round was too high to select a punter.

It's a personal opinion of mine that punters, with maybe one or two exceptions, shouldn't be selected earlier than the seventh round, a time when teams are rolling the dice on talent anyway. There are also plenty of punters coming out of college that can be signed as UFA's.

As for Patterson, you're right about his upside which is why the Vikings get points for trading back into the first round to land him. Whether he meets that upside is beside the point for the purpose of these grades. Spielman scores the A grade for making a bold move to trade back into the first round to fill one of their biggest weaknesses of 2012 with a player that was ranked in many mock drafts to go higher than pick 29.
17 months ago
Hey Tom, good read, but I'm curious about one position: Punter.

It seems that Locke was the forgone conclusion for 'best punter' in the draft, some have even compared him to the punter from last years draft selected in the 3rd round, Bryan Anger.

What would you say Locke would have to do to make you change your mind? It sounds like you grade on need, and the Vikings did need a punter, why not drop a late 5th round pick on the best available instead of waiting and picking up another Kluwe (Skill-wise, not mouth-wise)?

Surely a punter who's a bit more athletic, can do all the things Kluwe did, and on top of it, is maybe an even better Kickoff specialist than Walsh? Surely there is some merit there?

What's the value of 5 yards 8 times a game? I think that's pretty significant and easily worth a 5th round pick. I'll take 40 yards of field position for a 5th round pick any day!
17 months ago

Yes, in my reply to Bo I ran down some 2012 stats for Kluwe so I do recognize the Vikings need for a punter, as well recognizing the need the Lions had at that position.

I would say that punting isn't a position that relies as much on athleticism as accuracy. Also, a big part in determining a punter's success has to do with a team's coverage unit. Finally, if a team is relying on their punter's ability for distance they really should take a close look at their offense and inability to generate first downs.

What would Locke have to do to change my mind? Nothing from him yet, but with your comments, you and Bo have generated enough curiosity in me to do some in depth research on punting effectiveness. I still feel that NFL caliber punters can be found in the seventh round or undrafted free agency but I'm open to the fact that I may be wrong and willing to do some digging to find out one way or the other.
17 months ago

Heya Tom, I'd be interested in punter impact as well, I think many people have maligned the kicking game in the NFL and I think it's inaccurate, most of the time the impact is small, but consistent, but I don't have the time or resources to back that feeling up.

Also, when I say "Athletic" that may not be exactly what I mean. Locke is a total player who can punt, kick, and hold. He's also apparently one of the the smartest player out of UCLA.

I tried to dig into Locke's skillset in terms of fake punt run/pass but I only came up with one fake punt run. I don't think it's part of UCLA's playbook to fake punt, but I guess that's in part because they had a stud punter, a luxury in college.

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