NFC NORTH

NFC North: ESPN's Todd McShay comes out with Mock Draft 4.0

Posted Apr 2, 2013

Tim Twentyman offers commentary on the players ESPN's Todd McShay has projected for NFC North teams to select in the first and second rounds

Draft boards are starting to fall into place now that the initial wave of free agency is complete and prospects are starting to visit teams in the pre-draft process.

ESPN's Todd McShay has unveiled his latest mock draft -- version 4.0 -- with this one covering the first two rounds.

Here's a peek at the players McShay has projected for the NFC North teams with a bit of my own commentary mixed in.

DETROIT LIONS

No. 5: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

No. 36: Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut

Blidi Wreh-WilsonCB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (AP Images)

McShay comment: "The Lions have plenty of options here. Offensive tackle is a major need after the retirement of Jeff Backus and the loss of free agent Gosder Cherilus to Indianapolis, so they will have to look long and hard at Oklahoma's Lane Johnson in this scenario.

"However, given what Detroit has invested in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the middle of the defense, there is a need for a special player on the outside who can pull it all together. Ansah is not your prototypical undersized right end, but he is an explosive pass-rusher with elite burst, long arms and the ability to transition speed to power. He's somewhat raw, but if Ansah reaches his full potential, the Lions could get a player in the same vein as Aldon Smith or Jason Pierre-Paul."

Twentyman comment: I've heard the comparisons to Pierre-Paul, but let’s not forget that Pierre-Paul had played a lot more football at this point than Ansah has. Ansah is a bit raw, but all the intangibles seem to be there. It's just a matter of determining if he's ready to contribute in 2013 or 2014. If the Lions take a rusher at No. 5 they're expecting him to contribute right away. The big plus for the Lions is that head coach Jim Schwartz and his staff had a chance to coach Ansah for a week at the Senior Bowl and have more data than most on him.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson fits the Lions' size profile at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, but he didn’t have a great week at the Senior Bowl and didn’t run particularly well at the combine (4.53). He reportedly improved his 40-time considerably at his pro day last month (into the low 4.4 range), but there are some question marks there. They'll have to trust their draft board at No. 36.

CHICAGO BEARS

No. 20: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

No. 50: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

McShay comment: "The signing of OT Jermon Bushrod has shored up the offensive line, with J'Marcus Webb holding down the other tackle spot and Gabe Carimi sliding inside to guard. And while the Bears did bring in TE Martellus Bennett through free agency, he's not a consistent commodity.

New head coach Marc Trestman knows how to create and exploit mismatches, and Eifert's versatility in the passing game would make a valuable weapon. With his ball skills and ability to stretch the middle of the field, Eifert could help take Chicago's offense to the next level.

Twentyman comment: Eifert is a nice pick for the Bears and helps build a two-tiered threat at the tight end position with Bennett. Eifert was a 50-catch player each of the last two seasons for the Irish and is considered the best tight end available in the draft.

The Bears lost linebackers Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach this offseason but gained D.J. Williams and James Anderson to replace them. Still, there’s a need to add some young talent they can develop at the position. Minter doesn't get a lot of press but he recorded 130 tackles at LSU last year. Don’t be surprised if the Bears elect to go linebacker in round one, though.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

No. 23: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

No. 25: Keenan Allen, WR, California

No. 52: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

McShay comment: "The signing of WR Greg Jennings frees the Vikings from having to reach for a receiver with this pick. There are needs at cornerback, middle linebacker and guard, but there is also little depth behind DEs Jared Allen and Brian Robison. With that in mind, Werner would give the Vikings a player who's not that far from what Long brings to the table in St. Louis. He's not quite as athletic, but Werner has a relentless motor, great hands and the ability to convert quickness to power as a pass-rusher. Should the board fall this way, he's a smart pick.

"Many of the players coming off the board in this area would make sense for the Vikings, who are in something of a sweet spot late in the first round. They can sit tight and be fairly certain of getting a player who addresses a need and is nearly top-10 quality but will cost far less. In Allen's case, that means a receiver with good body control and hands who could become a very good No. 2 receiver at the next level."

Twentyman comment: If I’m a Vikings fan I look at this as a pretty good haul. They fill three needs with each player considered among the top five or so players available at their respective positions.

Werner isn’t an elite athlete, but neither was Jared Allen coming out of Idaho State in 2004, so who better to learn under.

Allen would enter a good situation in Minnesota where he wouldn’t have to carry the load with Greg Jennings signed this offseason.

Hankins adds youth and depth to an aging defensive line.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

No. 26: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State

No. 55: D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina

McShay comment: "This might seem a little high for a player with an early second-round grade, but Watson could make sense for various reasons. The Packers might not be totally sold on Marshall Newhouse as their left tackle, and there is concern about RT Derek Sherrod coming off a broken leg suffered late in 2012. Watson is inexperienced, but he comes from a similar zone-blocking scheme and has impressive natural movement skills. Offensive tackles are always at a premium, and at this point there is not a running back, safety or wide receiver worth reaching for to fill a need. The Packers can't win unless they improve their ability to protect Aaron Rodgers, and Watson could help in that regard."

Twentyman comment: If one of the top safeties slips a little bit, the Packers could certainly pounce with their first-round pick with Charles Woodson no longer in the fold. Watson is in that second tier of offensive lineman behind Joeckel, Fisher and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson, but he’s a big, athletic tackle with a high ceiling. Adding athletic big men to a roster is never a bad idea early in the draft. The investment usually pays off, especially when there's value late in the first or second rounds.