NFL Draft: NFC North

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A wrap-up of the Green Bay Packers' draft. Click here for a full list of Packers draftees.

[+] EnlargeJared Abbrederis
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsReceiver Jared Abbrederis is the first Wisconsin player drafted by the Packers since guard Bill Ferrario (fourth round) in 2001.
Best move: Even though much of the pre-draft focus was on improving the defense -- something general manager Ted Thompson did by taking Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round (No. 21 overall) -- he did not ignore the other side of the ball. He wisely added depth to the receiving core with the highly productive Davante Adams of Fresno State in the second round (No. 53) and later local product Jared Abbrederis of Wisconsin in the fifth round (No. 176), and the small-school Jeff Janis from Saginaw Valley State in the seventh (No. 236). He then took a shot with developmental tight end Richard Rodgers of Cal in the third round (No. 98) and brought in competition for the starting center job with Corey Linsley of Ohio State in the fifth round (No. 161).

Riskiest move: Defensive tackle Khyri Thornton. Taking him in the third round (No. 85 overall) seemed too high. Even he didn't think he would be drafted on Day 2. "Khyri was an interesting one, kind of came up later in the process," said Packers director of college scouting Brian Gutekunst. "But he had so much twitch, so much upside, it was something we couldn't pass on. The way he's able to run, a 4.9 guy for a 312-pound man, the kid can run. He's got a lot of upside. We felt fortunate to get him." You could also call Baylor cornerback Demetri Goodson a risk, although it's less of one in the sixth round (No. 197). Goodson will turn 25 years old next month and was out of football for five years. He played three seasons of basketball at Gonzaga before he transferred to Baylor in 2011 and played three years of football.

Most surprising move: For the first time in 10 drafts as the Packers general manager, Thompson did not make a single trade. He picked at his spot all nine times. By the time the draft reached the fifth round, it became clear this was going to be a different draft strategy for Thompson. He had never before made it that far into a draft without making a trade. Perhaps equally surprising was the fact that he picked a player from the University of Wisconsin -- and it wasn't linebacker Chris Borland, a player many thought might interest the Packers. Instead, he took Abbrederis, making him the first UW player drafted by the Packers since guard Bill Ferrario (fourth round) in 2001.

File it away: Next year, when Thompson tells you he doesn't draft for need, remember this: Among his first six picks were a safety (Clinton-Dix), a receiver (Adams), a tight end (Rodgers) and a center (Linsley). Not coincidentally, the Packers had an opening for a starting free safety, lost a receiver (James Jones) and a center (Evan Dietrich-Smith) in free agency, and have not re-signed last year’s starting tight end (Jermichael Finley).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some final thoughts from Day 2 of the draft:

Standing Pat: Once known as Trader Ted, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has not made a single trade in the first two days of the draft. Said Thompson: "There were phone calls like there always are. There were offers made by us a few teams, by the opposing teams a few times and it was more 'we'll see when it gets to our pick or we'll see when it gets to their pick,' and it just never worked out."

Third-round reaches: While there should have been little to quibble with when it came to Thompson's first two picks -- safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round and receiver Davante Adams in the second -- his third-round picks appeared to be reaches based on general evaluations and even where they expected to be picked. Southern Miss defensive tackle Khyri Thornton was ranked as the 17th-best defensive tackle yet he was the ninth one taken. Said Thorton, who went 85th overall: "To be honest with you I really didn't have high expectations of going high in the draft." Cal tight end Richard Rodgers, who went to the Packers at No. 98, appears to be a bit of a project, having switched from tight end to receiver at Cal before leaving school early.

Thornton's journey: In Thornton's final two years at Southern Miss, the team won only one game -- and he missed that lone victory because of an injury. And that's only part of Thornton's collegiate story. He first committed to Florida State but did not qualify academically. Then, he enrolled at South Florida, which also denied him eligibility. "It was frustrating," the 24-year-old Thornton said. "Learned about college football."

"The Play": Rodgers' father took part in one of the most famous plays in college football history -- the five-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown at the end of the 1982 Cal-Stanford game -- and he has seen it countless times. But never in the company of his dad, who made two of the laterals. "I actually don't think I've ever watched 'The Play' with my dad sitting next to me," the younger Rodgers said.

Finley's future: Thompson insisted the decision to draft Rodgers was not an indication that team has moved on from free agent Jermichael Finley, who still hasn't been cleared to return from his neck injury. "I don't necessarily think the two are tied at all," Thompson said. "We were just trying to pick a good player."

Looking ahead: The Packers still haven't addressed two of their bigger needs entering the draft -- inside linebacker and center. Thompson watched the top center, Colorado State's Weston Richburg, come off the board nine picks before the Packers' second-round selection. In the third round, he saw Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland go eight before the Packers picked Thornton. Even with five picks in rounds 4-7 on Saturday, the chances of finding someone who could compete for a starting job at either spot are minimal.
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LAKE FOREST -- The pick: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech.

My take: After investing heavily in free agency along the offensive line, the Chicago Bears needed to shore up their secondary and took the first steps toward doing so Thursday night by selecting Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller with the No. 14 overall pick of the draft.

The Bears spent in free agency to add Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Jared Allen. So it was time to turn their attention to the secondary. Current starters Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are 33 and 30, respectively. So the addition of Fuller strengthens the position for the future. It also gives the club another Day 1 starter because there’s a good chance Fuller will begin the season as the club’s nickel cornerback. It’s worth noting how often the Bears operate out of nickel packages given the air attacks of divisional foes such as the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.

St. Louis took defensive tackle Aaron Donald with the No. 13 pick, and it’s very likely he was among Chicago’s targeted players for the 14th pick. So it appears the Bears took the best player available on their board at a need position.

Fuller started 42 of 50 games at Virginia Tech and is the just the third Hokies defensive player selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Fuller produced 173 tackles, 4.5 sacks and picked off six passes in addition to breaking up 21 others at Virginia Tech. At nearly 6 feet tall, Fuller possesses the size to match up against bigger receivers in the slot, and has proven to be effective as a blitzer throughout his college career, which might serve him well in a nickel role with the Bears.

After all, in giving up a franchise-record 29.9 points per game, the Bears surrendered a league-worst 55.3 percent completion rate on throws of at least 15 yards down the field last season, and defended the second-fewest passes on throws at least 15 yards downfield.

Family ties: Fuller’s brother, Corey, was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of 2013. Another brother, Vincent, was selected in 2005 by the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round. Kyle Fuller said he spoke to Corey just after he was drafted Thursday, and they’re already excited about the opportunity to play against one another.

What’s next: The Bears are expected to continue adding to the defense. Having addressed cornerback, the Bears will likely use their second- and third-round picks on Friday to pick up a safety and a linebacker.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The last time the Green Bay Packers had four picks in the first 100 selections of the NFL draft, they came away with two quality starters and two players who never made an impact.

That was 2008, when they drafted receiver Jordy Nelson (No. 36 overall), quarterback Brian Brohm (No. 56), cornerback Pat Lee (No. 60) and tight end Jermichael Finley (No. 91).

General manager Ted Thompson will take a similar haul into this year's draft. With the addition of a third-round compensatory pick, the Packers have pick Nos. 21, 53, 85 and 98 in the first three rounds.

"It's good," Thompson said during his pre-draft news conference this week. "If we could, we'd have more. More is better. It gives you better odds. It wouldn't be any different if it were this year or last year or the year before or that sort of thing."

Can Thompson do better in the top 100 than he did in 2008? Nelson and Finley became major contributors while Brohm flamed out and Lee was only a short-term backup.

On Thursday night, ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay went through the top 100, selecting players for teams as if they were in charge of the draft rooms.

For the Packers, they came away with this:
Kiper and McShay alternated picks, so it worked out that McShay made the Packers' first three selections, while Kiper picked their fourth.

Looking at the first round, the top two safeties were both off the board before the No. 21. Kiper had Louisville's Calvin Pryor at No. 14 to the Chicago Bears and Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gone two picks later to the Dallas Cowboys.

In picking Mosley, McShay said he had Mosley rated as the 12th-best player on his board and called him a relentless, tough playmaker. What isn't known is how the Packers feel about Mosley from a medical standpoint. There are concerns about a knee injury, which kept him from running at the combine, and other injuries during his college career.

If the Packers don't feel comfortable with Mosley's medical history but still want a linebacker at that spot, they could go with Ohio State's Ryan Shazier. McShay had Shazier at No. 31 to the Denver Broncos.

Nix has been described as a perfect 3-4 nose tackle.

"This is a value pick, as Nix merits late first-round consideration," McShay said. "Between first-rounder C.J. Mosley and Nix, we've now drafted the No. 12 and No. 30 players on my board, respectively, at No. 21 and No. 53."

Vereen and Fiedorowicz would fill clear holes at safety and tight end, respectively. However, waiting until late in the third round to address safety seems a little late considering that might be the Packers' greatest need in this draft.

Analyzing McShay mock: Packers 

April, 24, 2014
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No one knows for sure who Ted Thompson will pick with the 21st selection in next month's NFL draft. Even the Green Bay Packers general manager himself might not know yet.

But put ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay on the clock, and he's ready to make a pick right now. In his latest mock draft , McShay selected who he would pick if at the controls of all 32 teams.

Analyzing McShay mock: Bears 

April, 24, 2014
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The Chicago Bears made clear their intentions of making the 2014 NFL draft an endeavor in which they load up on defenders, despite fortifying in that area throughout free agency.

ESPN.com's Todd McShay revealed his fifth 2014 NFL mock draft on ESPN Insider Insider today, with this one based on the premise of taking players he would select as opposed to simply projecting what the teams around the league might do.


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Analyzing McShay mock: Vikings 

April, 24, 2014
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In his latest mock draft, ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay made his picks as though he were the general manager for every team in the league. In other words, he's picking the player he thinks the team should take, not necessarily whom they will take.

That's an important distinction to make, because in this particular case, it illustrates how badly the Vikings need to address their quarterback position for the future.


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Chat about the Packers today

April, 22, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- We're a little more than two weeks out from the NFL draft, which means speculation about who the Green Bay Packers will pick is growing.

Bring your draft questions -- or anything else Packers-related -- to our weekly chat. It starts today at 4 p.m. ET (or 3 p.m. if you’re in the surrounding area).

You can submit your questions ahead of time or do it live by clicking this link.

Note: This will be our last chat until the week of the draft because we're taking next week off for a little rest and relaxation before things ramp up again.

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Bears 

April, 17, 2014
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Diligence by the Chicago Bears’ front office in free agency helped to carve out flexibility for the NFL draft, but defense still remains the major focus.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s fourth 2014 NFL mock draftInsider is out on ESPN Insider today, and his choices through the first two rounds definitely reflect the team’s intentions to orchestrate a renaissance on defense.


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Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Packers 

April, 17, 2014
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The Green Bay Packers began the process of rebuilding their defense by adding free-agent pass rusher Julius Peppers and re-signing several of their own key players -- B.J. Raji, Sam Shields and Mike Neal among them -- but there's still much to do in next month's draft.

Mel Kiper's fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out on ESPN Insider today, and his projected first-round pick for the Packers at No. 21 overall should help in that process.


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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Pick after pick crawled across the bottom of television screens last April 25, 26 and 27 and those wondering when the Green Bay Packers would draft a safety got their answer when the 254th -- and final -- pick in the 2013 NFL draft was announced.

Three safeties went in the first round, but none to the Packers.

Two more came off the board in Round 2, but neither was a Packers pick.

[+] EnlargeHa Ha Clinton-Dix
AP Photo/Rogelio SolisHa Ha Clinton-Dix may be available to the Packers when they draft in the first round.
Seventeen more were drafted on the third and final day, yet the Packers still had not filled one of their biggest needs.

That's not to say they went into last year's draft wholly convinced that they didn't need help at the position. But when it came time to exercise each of his selections, there wasn't a safety sitting there that intrigued general manager Ted Thompson enough to make that call.

Thompson liked a few of the safeties in the draft, but the ones he was sold on were either already off the board or would have been a reach at the time of his pick.

So here are the Packers, nearly a year later, and Thompson still has not put pen to paper on a contract for a new safety of any consequence. (And no, street free agent Chris Banjo does not count.)

That has to change next month, when Thompson will take nine selections into the May 8-10 NFL draft, doesn't it?

If Thompson fails to land one of the top, say, five or six safeties in this draft -- be it Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama or Calvin Pryor of Louisville, both of who are locks to go in the first round; or possible second- and third-round picks like Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois, Deone Bucannon of Washington State or Terrence Brooks of Florida State -- then he will be handcuffing defensive coordinator Dom Capers in much the same fashion he did last season.

Last summer, Capers and coach Mike McCarthy opened the competition at free safety to a pair of second-year players, Jerron McMillian (a 2012 fourth-round round pick) and M.D. Jennings (an undrafted free agent the same year). It was a close competition, more so because neither one stood out, and when strong safety Morgan Burnett was unavailable for the season opener because of a hamstring injury, that duo started Week 1 at the two safety spots.

The Packers thought so little of their performances that they cut McMillian late last season and did not even bother this offseason to offer Jennings a restricted free agent tender, which would not have cost them any guaranteed money.

"Obviously we didn't get the production that we wanted from that [free safety] position," safeties coach Darren Perry said this offseason.

To be sure, the Packers need Burnett to show that Thompson wasn't misguided when he signed him to a four-year, $24.75 million contract last summer.

"I think he's fully capable of doing it," McCarthy said this offseason. "Morgan's going to do everything he can. He needs to be more assertive in play-making opportunities."

In order for Burnett to flourish, he can't be worried about the player lined up next to him. That player was supposed to be Nick Collins, the three-time Pro Bowl safety whose career was cut short in 2011 by a neck injury. At age 30, he still would have been in the prime of his career last season.

If the Packers don't find another Collins, they must at least come close.

Since the team's resurgence in the early 1990s, they have enjoyed a strong group of safeties -- from LeRoy Butler to Darren Sharper to Collins; all were Pro Bowl selections during their time in Green Bay.

The dynamic of the position has changed in recent years. Whereas Butler was a fierce hitter, today's safeties are judged just as much on speed and ball skills as anything else. What NFL teams need now are safeties than can cover chunks of yardage in milliseconds and knock passes away or, better yet, intercept them. The Packers were the only team in the NFL last season that didn't get a single interception from a safety.

"The intimidator isn't necessarily needed anymore," ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said. "The big hitters, you don't need that."

Kiper doesn't believe Clinton-Dix will be around when the Packers come up at No. 21 in the first round, but Pryor very well could be available.

Even if Pryor is gone or Thompson passes on him, he will have other options, says Kiper.

"Jimmy Ward from Northern Illinois you could make an argument is the best cover safety in the draft," Kiper said. "He's coming off the [foot] injury but he had a very good career, has great ball skills, real good hands for the interception. And Ward is a decent tackler, but he doesn't have tremendous size [5-foot-11, 193 pounds].

"The days of that big, intimidating safety are just about over. Terrence Brooks from Florida State would fill that void at that point as a safety that could come in and help you right away."

No matter what Thompson does in the draft, Capers and McCarthy plan to work cornerback Micah Hyde at safety this offseason. Perhaps the fifth-round pick out of Iowa last year will be the full-time answer; he certainly showed enough as a rookie to warrant more than the 39.4 percent playing time he got last year. But if the Packers think Hyde can allow them to concentrate on other areas of need in the draft, they'd better be right.

Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Packers 

April, 10, 2014
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The Green Bay Packers' greatest needs would seemingly be on the defensive side of the ball.

Even with the addition of pass-rusher Julius Peppers, they likely need to upgrade a few more spots in order improve on its 25th overall ranking last season. With that in mind, it might come as a surprise that in ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's latest mock draft , version 4.0, he has the Packers taking offensive players not only with their first-round pick but also with their second.


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Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Vikings 

April, 10, 2014
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ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay's latest mock draft spans two rounds, and like Mel Kiper Jr. did last week in his Grade A mock draft, McShay has the Vikings addressing perhaps their biggest need on each side of the ball with their first two picks.

The Vikings will have a number of different directions they could pursue at quarterback and cornerback with the eighth and 40th overall picks, and it's conceivable they could draft a quarterback and cornerback in either order in the first two rounds. If the draft falls the way McShay predicts it will, however, the Vikings will have an interesting choice on their hands at N0. 8.


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Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Bears 

April, 10, 2014
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The Chicago Bears hold the No. 14 pick in the upcoming NFL draft after finishing last season with an 8-8 record, and by virtue of the frenetic pace the club worked at during free agency, the potential selection in the first round seems wide open at this point.

ESPN.com's Todd McShay revealed his fourth 2014 mock draft on ESPN Insider today, with this one covering the first two rounds, and his choices for the Bears certainly make lots of sense.


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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- From the outside, the Green Bay Packers' list of needs in the upcoming draft seems obvious.

Safety, tight end and linebacker surely would be at the top of general manager Ted Thompson's wish list.

But sometimes GMs think a little differently.

That's something new ESPN Insider Mark Dominik knows as well as anyone. Dominik has nearly 20 years of experience as an NFL personnel man, including most recently as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-13, before joining ESPN last month.

So it was interesting to see that Dominik, in an ESPN Insider piece, identified the Packers as a team that might have what he called a "hidden need." And he wrote that need is offensive tackle.

"The Packers drafted offensive tackles in the first round of the 2010 [Bryan Bulaga] and 2011 [Derek Sherrod] drafts, but they are still hunting for that dependable long-term option at left tackle," Dominik said. "Even though the team has other, more pressing needs, I believe general manager Ted Thompson could target a tackle earlier than expected in this draft. Remember, Chad Clifton was a second-round selection back in 2000, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Packers look to find a player like him -- in roughly that same range -- in this year's draft."

Perhaps Dominik isn't convinced second-year pro David Bakhtiari is the long-term answer at left tackle. Coach Mike McCarthy said recently he plans to leave Bakhtiari there, where he started every game last season as a rookie after Bulaga blew out his knee two weeks into training camp, leaving Bulaga to return to right tackle.

Or perhaps Dominik was taking the contract and injury history of Bulaga and Sherrod into account. Bulaga missed all of last season because of a knee injury and the second half of 2012 because of a hip injury. Sherrod returned late last season from the broken leg he sustained on Dec. 18, 2011, an injury that sidelined him for all of 2012 and the first half of 2013.

Both likely will be free agents next offseason. Bulaga is entering the final year of his rookie contract, while the Packers have an option for 2015 on Sherrod's deal that they are unlikely to exercise.

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