2013 NFL Draft: Grades for the NFC North
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.
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.
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).
Round 1, Pick 20 – Kyle Long, Guard, Oregon; Round 2, Pick 50 – Jon Bostic, Linebacker, Florida; Round 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.
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.