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NFC NORTH: 2018 NFL Draft preview

NFL Draft week is here, which means teams are putting the final touches on their draft preparations and finishing up their draft boards.

"I think with the way the roster is today, I don't think I'm in a position to reach for any position of so-called need," Lions general manager Bob Quinn said.

"We're looking for good football players. We're looking for big, strong, tough competitive guys that are going to help us win."

This is an exciting time for the fan bases of the Lions, Vikings, Packers and Bears, as their teams will no-doubt be better off by the end of the weekend.

Here's a look at positions of need and prospects that might fit for each of the four teams in the NFC North:


2017 finish: Division champs

Record: 13-3 (1-1 in playoffs)

Total offense: 356.9 (11th)

Rushing: 122.3 (7th)

Passing: 234.6 (11th)

Total defense: 275.9 (1st)

Rush defense: 83.6 (2nd)

Pass defense: 192.4 (2nd)

Most impactful 2017 pick: Third-round pick Pat Elfein started in all 14 games he played in at center. He was named to the All-Rookie first team by the Pro Football Writers. Elfein underwent offseason ankle surgery after hurting it in the NFC Championship game vs. Philadelphia.

Top 3 draft needs: Offensive line, cornerback, tight end

2018 draft picks (8): Rd 1 (30), Rd 2 (62), Rd 3 (94), Rd 5 (167), Rd 6 (204), *Rd 6 (213), *Rd 6 (218), Rd 7 (225).

*compensatory pick

Who fits in Round 1 in 2018: This is a deep class of interior offensive linemen, and the Vikings could find a good fit in the late first round for their open right guard spot. Players like Will Hernandez (UTEP) and Isaiah Wynn (Georgia) could be terrific value picks at No. 30.

Twentyman's take: This is a Super Bowl contender with very few holes on the roster. After signing quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency, the Vikings now need to protect him and fill in some holes upfront. Minnesota could also be on the lookout for more depth in their secondary, but really this is the most complete roster heading into the draft of any team in the division, especially on defense.


2017 finish: Second in division

Record: 9-7

Total offense: 337.8 (13th)

Rushing: 76.3 (32nd)

Passing: 261.4 (6th)

Total defense: 355.8 (27th)

Rush defense: 112.5 (18th)

Pass defense: 243.2 (27th)

Most impactful 2017 pick: Linebacker Jarrad Davis stepped in right away and started at the MIKE from Day 1. He led all rookies and first-year players with 96 tackles and also chipped in two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

Top 3 draft needs: Defensive line, interior offensive line, running back

2018 draft picks (6): Rd 1 (20), Rd 2 (51), Rd 3 (82), Rd 4 (117), Rd 5 (153), Rd 7 (237)

Who fits in Round 1 in 2018: The Lions could really go in a number of different directions here, but bolstering their numbers upfront on defense probably makes the most sense. Detroit has needs at defensive tackle and defensive end, so best player available upfront would do. One interesting name to consider at No. 20 if he's still there is Texas-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport, who has a lot of similarities to Ziggy Ansah.

Twentyman's take: New head coach Matt Patricia wants to build this team from the ball out, so adding a defensive tackle, edge rusher or starter along the interior of the offensive line makes the most sense in round one. Whatever the Lions don't select at No. 20 can be addressed on Day 2. This is a deep class of interior offensive linemen and running backs, which bodes well for Quinn and Co.


2017 finish: Third in division

Record: 7-9

Total offense: 305.7 (26th)

Rushing: 107.8 (17th)

Passing: 197.9 (25th)

Total defense: 348.9 (22nd)

Rush defense: 112.1 (17th)

Pass defense: 236.8 (23rd)

Most impactful 2017 pick: Fifth-round running back Aaron Jones was forced into action early in the season due to injuries at the running back position ahead of him. Jones was very good before suffering a knee injury himself. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry and finished with 448 yards on just 80 carries. He'll be in the running to win the No. 1 running back spot in Green Bay this season.

Top 3 draft needs: Pass rusher, cornerback, receiver

2018 draft picks (12): Rd 1 (14), Rd 2, (45), Rd 3 (76), Rd 4 (101), *Rd 4 (133), Rd 5 (138), *Rd 5 (174), Rd 6 (186), *Rd 6 (207), Rd 7 (232), Rd 7 (239)

*compensatory pick

Who fits in Round 1 in 2018: The addition of Muhammad Wilkerson in free agency helps upfront on defense, but he has just eight sacks over the last two seasons. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews is getting up there in age (32 in May). The Packers couldn't go wrong if either Davenport or Boston College's Harold Landry are on the board when they pick at No. 14.

Twentyman's take: It makes sense for the Packers to address their aging pass rush first. They can then circle back in Day 2 to bolster their numbers at cornerback in what's a very talented and deep class. Don't be surprised if the Packers look to add a receiver in the first two days of the draft, too. Davante Adams and Randall Cobb could use one more player on the outside to complement them.


2017 finish: Fourth in division

Record: 5-11

Total offense: 287.4 (30th)

Rushing: 111.8 (16th)

Passing: 125.7 (32nd)

Total defense: 319.1 (10th)

Rush defense: 108.1 (11th)

Pass defense: 211.0 (7th)

Most impactful 2017 pick: The easy selection here would be No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky, who quickly supplanted Mike Glennon as the starter, but fourth-round running back Tarik Cohen had a huge impact as a rookie. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry as a terrific backfield mate to Jordan Howard. He also caught 53 passes and was one of the better punt and kickoff return men in the league.

Top 3 draft needs: Guard, cornerback depth, pass rusher

2018 draft picks (7): Rd 1 (8), Rd 2 (39), Rd 4 (105), Rd 4 (115), Rd 5 (145), Rd 6 (181), Rd 7 (224)

Who fits in Round 1 in 2018: If Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is somehow available at No. 8, the Bears shouldn't hesitate for a minute. He might be the best overall player in this draft. He just happens to play guard. If Nelson isn't there, Chicago could look to fill a need on defense in the first round and hope one of the good guards, like a Hernandez or Wynn, slips to them at No. 39.

Twentyman's take: The Bears are in a pretty good spot at No. 8. If Nelson slips to them he's a perfect fit.  Cornerback Denzel Ward or versatile safety Minkah Fitzpatrick could also fit. Adding another receiving threat for Trubisky isn't out of the question either. The Bears have a lot of different ways they can go.

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