- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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Those of you with Insider access probably know that ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has been producing a series of summer audits for each division. Kiper has examined how each team's draft has been impacted by the lockout, predicted free agency needs and looked ahead candidates for (yes) the 2012 draft.
Although I can't share everything Mel wrote on the NFC North, I am authorized to share a snippet of each team's segment. Here's what I found most interesting in the NFC North Summer Audit:
Mel on rookie tackle Gabe Carimi: "While Carimi held up quite well at left tackle during his college career, there are some concerns as to whether that will be the case in the NFL. In my opinion, he's best-suited to be a right tackle, where I think he could be very good. While the Bears lack a top-flight starter at both positions, the more pressing need is at left tackle, and my guess is he'll be given a chance to earn a starting job."
Seifert comment: I think the same. If J'Marcus Webb surprises everyone and is ready to play left tackle, that changes things. But generally speaking, the Bears' best tackle should start on the left side. Right now, Carimi might be that guy.
Mel on a cornerback the Lions should draft in 2012: "[North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins] has some off-the-field issues to deal with, but Jenkins has the talent to help an NFL team now."
Seifert comment: Perhaps Mel is skeptical of the Lions' chances to sign a starting-caliber cornerback on the free agent market this year. Teams don't usually let good cover people get away.
Mel on a linebacker the Packers should draft in 2012: "[Texas' Keenan Robinson] is a natural fit for the Dom Capers system, the Packers will want to add some help on the edges."
Seifert comment: Mel's right in the sense that it's unlikely the Packers will pursue an outside linebacker in free agency. Frank Zombo might be the likeliest candidate to start opposite Clay Matthews this season.
Mel on the Vikings' new tight end: "Had it not been for a hamstring injury that prematurely ended his season, Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph would have been a first-round pick instead of 43rd overall. He has impressive natural pass-catching skills as well as the size to develop into a good blocker."
Seifert comment: I'll be interested to see if the Vikings can find a way to get Rudolph and veteran Visanthe Shiancoe on the field at the same time.