NFC NORTH

NFC North: Mel Kiper, Todd McShay on their first-round pick predictions

Posted Mar 9, 2012

ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have released their latest mock drafts. Here's how they see the NFC North shaking out during April's NFL Draft.

Minnesota Vikings

Record: 3-13

Pick: No. 3

Kiper pick: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

"This is one I'm going to stick with. I've liked the pick since the first mock, and I don't see a reason to change. Minnesota needs an upgrade at left tackle, and Kalil is the rare one who could step into that position right away at the NFL level.

"There's a lot of talk about which quarterback will go where right now, but this pick is about keeping Christian Ponder upright for the Vikings. They won't know what they have unless they can block for him. And it's obvious this will help the running game, too."

McShay pick: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

"The Vikings just missed out on being able to cash in with the second overall pick, but with Baylor QB Robert Griffin III likely to be the pick there, Minnesota is in a position to finally begin shoring up its offensive line with an elite prospect.

"Kalil is one of the top left tackles I have ever evaluated coming out of college, with a skill set equal to Joe Thomas and a mean streak to go with it."

Chicago Bears

Record: 8-8

Pick: No. 19

Kiper pick: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

"It looks like the Bears will be really aggressive in targeting wide receivers in free agency, and the offensive line still has to be better. Mike Tice knows as well as anybody that Jay Cutler can be successful in the passing game first if he's not getting hit on every play.

"Adams wasn't a star in terms of testing, but he's really good in pass protection, and the Bears could use more of that trait along the line. He moves his feet and doesn't get beat inside, but he has the length and technique to protect the edge."

McShay Pick: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

"Chicago needs a big target who can make plays downfield and take advantage of the strong arm of QB Jay Cutler, and while Floyd isn't the most sudden athlete he shows on tape the ability to be an impact player in the vertical passing game. Running a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the combine helped solidify him as a top-25 prospect.

Detroit Lions

Record: 10-6

Pick: No. 23

Kiper pick: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

"Detroit could get into the mix for a cornerback during free agency -- Cortland Finnegan is a name that has come up often -- but I'd still be shocked if the Lions go two rounds without adding a corner.

"They have plenty of talent up front, and they need to turn their pass rush into more interceptions. Gilmore is a bigger corner, a guy that can handle big wide receivers, but he also doesn't lose much in terms of quickness. I can also see the Lions going O-line or linebacker here, but corner is a big need."

McShay pick: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

"Adams is a little scary at this point given his inconsistency on tape and the fact that he does not always show a killer instinct, but he has the size, agility and long arms you look for in a starting left tackle.

"If the Lions believe in offensive line coach George Yarno and the leadership in their locker room, this could be their chance to get the heir apparent to longtime left tackle Jeff Backus."

Green Bay Packers

Record: 15-1

Pick: No. 28

Kiper pick: Nick Perry, DE USC

"The Packers need help in the secondary, but a lot of that starts with the pass rush. It's not an exaggeration to say the Packers' pass rush fell off a cliff towards the end of last season.

"In Perry, you get a guy who played with his hand on the ground at USC, but should be able to stand up for the Packers and provide the complement they need. And hey, the last time the Packers looked for pass-rush help out of USC it worked out just fine."

McShay pick: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

"Branch is a good fit in Green Bay, with the athleticism to move to outside linebacker in the Packers' 3-4 scheme, as well as the motor and pass-rush ability to get after the quarterback and draw some attention away from Clay Matthews on the other side.

Around the NFC North:

Packers unlikely to be big spenders in free agency
Tyler Dunne - Journal Sentinel

Donald Driver and Dancing with the Stars
Mike Spofford - Packers.com

Bears free agents: Who stays, who goes?
Jeff Dickerson and Michael C. Wright - ESPN Chicago

Test your knowledge of Bears draft history
Larry Mayer - Chicagobears.com

Legislators whip Vikings stadium bill into shape
Mike Kaszuba - Star Tribune

Vikings on the clock
Vikings.com