Draft capsules for NFC North teams:
11. CHICAGO BEARS (6-10)
LAST SEASON: Finished last in NFC North in first season under general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox. Even though they won just one more game, Bears believe they started to lay strong foundation. QB Jay Cutler posted highest rating of career while cutting interceptions from 18 to 11 in 15 games after Bears waited until March to announce he was their quarterback going forward. Defense tied for 22nd in sacks, had 17 takeaways — fifth fewest in league.
THEY NEED: DT, DB.
THEY DON’T NEED: WR, RB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DT A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama; OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia; DT Jarran Reed, Alabama; CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida.
OUTLOOK: Pace used free agency to address holes at ILB by signing Danny Trevathan from Super Bowl champion Denver, and former Indianapolis Colts player Jerrell Freeman. Bears also signed former Arizona Cardinals RT Bobby Massie, clearing way for Kyle Long to move back to RG. Bears have more depth on defense, but still need playmakers up front and in backfield. Might also want to draft potential replacement for Cutler, who turns 33 on April 29. Bears haven’t taken QB in first three rounds since selecting Rex Grossman 22nd overall in 2003.
16. DETROIT LIONS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: Won six of last eight games after 1-7 start, helping coach Jim Caldwell keep job for third season. Slow start led to president Tom Lewand, general manager Martin Mayhew and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi getting fired. Matthew Stafford flourished in second half of season, connecting enough with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Theo Riddick to make them first trio to have at least 80 receptions in same season for Lions. Ezekiel Ansah, drafted No. 5 overall in 2013, ranked third in NFL and second in team’s record books with 14 1/2 sacks.
THEY NEED: DT, OL, LB.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, RB, CB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DT A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama; DT Jarran Reed, Alabama; DT Sheldon Rankins, Louisville; OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State; LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama.
OUTLOOK: First-year GM Bob Quinn addressed needs last month, signing WR Marvin Jones two days after Johnson announced his retirement, and re-signing DT Haloti Ngata. Quinn still has lots of work to do. He needs to protect franchise’s investment in Stafford, who has been sacked total of 89 times in last two years, by improving offensive line. Lions probably can’t lean on 32-year-old Ngata long term, making it priority to replenish position that had Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley on roster two years ago.
23. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (11-6)
LAST SEASON: Surpassed Packers to win NFC North for first time in six years, before crushing one-point loss to Seahawks at home in record cold capped by Blair Walsh’s miss of 27-yard field goal. Defense ranged from decent to dominant under sage supervision of coach Mike Zimmer. Teddy Bridgewater’s performance was better than rookie season, but he ranked in bottom third of league in major QB statistical categories except completion percentage (ninth, 65.3). Adrian Peterson won NFL rushing title. Offensive line struggled often. Stefon Diggs was only one with 500-plus yards receiving.
THEY NEED: WR, OT, S.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, CB, DT.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: WR Corey Coleman, Baylor; OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State; OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State; WR Josh Doctson, TCU; WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame.
OUTLOOK: GM Rick Spielman used free agency to land likely starters on offensive line (Alex Boone, Andre Smith) and at safety (Michael Griffin) while bringing back whopping 13 players whose contracts expired. Still, release of Mike Wallace left even bigger opening for elite rookie to fill at WR, with plenty of candidates expected to be available at No. 23 or in second round at No. 54. With three veterans unsigned past this year in Smith, Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt, finding a top-flight tackle would be smart, too.
27. GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-7)
LAST SEASON: Packers’ four-year reign atop NFC North ended in season in which offense stumbled with top receiver Jordy Nelson hurt, running back Eddie Lacy out of shape, and line hobbled by injuries. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked human, at least by two-time NFL MVP’s lofty standards. Defense stepped up and helped fill void and typically reliable Mason Crosby bailed out offense numerous times. Even with all their issues in “down” year, Packers still made playoffs as wild card and lost to Arizona in overtime in NFC divisional game.
THEY NEED: DL, LB, TE, OL.
THEY DON’T NEED: S, QB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama; DL Andrew Billings, Baylor; DT Jarran Reed, Alabama; DT A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama; TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas.
OUTLOOK: LB Clay Matthews appears headed back outside to rush passer more after playing inside much of last two seasons to help stop run. So getting Ragland could make transition go much smoother. But adding run stuffer up front could be bigger priority with veteran B.J. Raji’s decision to step away from game for at least a year after solid 2015 season. Packers could also use playmaking tight end to give Rodgers another target. When healthy, offensive line can be one of best. But position could use more depth, especially with contract decisions looming for three starters — LT David Bakhtiari, LG Josh Sitton and RG T.J. Lang — after 2016 season. Packers have had success in recent years in drafting Alabama products Lacy (2013) and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (2014).
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