Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The draft for the rest of the NFC North.

Detroit. Detroit's offense and defense needed a lot of help, and the offense got it with two first round draft choices. WR Roy Williams and RB Kevin Jones were arguably the two best players at their positions in the entire draft. Both positions badly needed an upgrade, so this can only help Detroit immediately. Jones was a peculiar pick for Steve Mariucci's offense, because Jones is not regarded as a good receiver, so its unlikely he will remain on the field for all three downs. Detroit's offensive line allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL in 2003 and added expensive free agent Damian Woody at guard, so it can only be better. All this is irrelevant on offense if Joey Harrington doesn't improve in 2004, which is not a given. Detroit drafted two linebackers, Teddy Lehman and Alex Lewis, who could help in 2004, but did nothing to improve an aging defensive line who lost starter Luther Elliss.

Chicago. In Lovie Smith's 3 years in St. Louis as defensive coordinator, St. Louis had 5 first round picks, all 5 picks were defensive players, and 3 of them were athletic and fast defensive tackles. So it was no surprise that in his first year in Chicago as head coach, Smith drafted a fast and athletic defensive tackle in Tommie Harris. Then Smith did it again in the 2nd round with Terry "Tank" Johnson. Chicago badly needed some depth at defensive tackle, so overall this is not a surprise. Last season in St. Louis, Smith coordinated one of the best defenses in the NFL with arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. St. Louis shut down Ahman Green in their matchup against him. Maybe in 2005, Chicago is a candidate for the best defense in the NFL.

Minnesota. Kenechi Udeze was expected to be drafted earlier, but injury concerns pushed him down to Minnesota. Udeze has elite pass rushing ability and the size to play every down. Udeze is unlikely to improve on 2003 defensive end Lance Johnstone's 9 sacks, but Minnesota should be better against the run. Linebacker Dontarrious Thomas was drafted in the 2nd round, and packers.com said he was coveted by the Packers because he is fast, and the Packers currently covet fast players. Thomas, along with Chris Claiborne and E.J. Henderson, might make a very good linebacker group starting in 2005.

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