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Sunday, May 1, 2011
Post-draft: Mel Kiper grades the NFC North

By Kevin Seifert

Accepting that pre-draft mocks and post-draft grades are all in good fun makes both easier to digest. With that caveat, let's sift through Mel Kiper's grades Insider and then take a Sunday breather. I think it will be good for us to have some quiet time here for a bit.

Chicago Bears
Mel's grade:
B
Seifert comment: The Bears filled needs with their first two picks, Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, without reaching. I agree with Kiper that Paea doesn't resemble the classic penetrating "three-technique" tackle as much as he does a space-filling nose tackle, but the Bears had needs for both. You could argue that a team with five picks and an established starting quarterback didn't need to take on a developmental quarterback like Idaho's Nathan Enderle. But that decision speaks to the underrated power offensive coordinator Mike Martz now wields in the organization. He wanted a project and got one.

Detroit Lions
Mel's grade:
A-
Seifert comment: Most everyone is viewing the fall of Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley as a gift the Lions smartly capitalized on. I can't argue. Nor, as I wrote over the weekend, can I suggest that receiver Titus Young and running back Mikel Leshoure will be anything other than enhancements to the offense. Kiper and I are on the same page with the one caveat to this draft, and he put it more succinctly than me: "[T]he question is whether the Lions did enough to help the talent level in a way that can further conceal weaknesses." The Lions can answer that with an aggressive run through free agency and/or the trade market.

Green Bay Packers
Mel's grade:
B+
Seifert comment: Kiper's only concern was a failure to address the pass rush in a meaningful way. But I think the Packers have confidence in some of the players they drafted last year, defensive ends Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson. And Saturday, defensive coordinator Dom Capers expressed faith in linebacker Frank Zombo. Otherwise, the Packers added two more weapons to their offense (Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb and Hawaii running back Alex Green) and fortified their transition plan at offensive tackle with Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod.

Minnesota Vikings
Mel's grade: C+
Seifert comment: Like many commentators, Kiper thinks the No. 12 spot was too high for Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder. To Kiper and others, the fact that TCU quarterback Andy Dalton lasted another 23 spots provides evidence that the Vikings could have traded down, or traded up from the second round, and still drafted Ponder. I don't think we can say that. How do we know that a team passing on Dalton wouldn't have taken Ponder? Regardless, quarterback is one position where value is less critical. There aren't many legitimate quarterback prospects in any draft, and if you have an opportunity to draft one that you think can be a long-term starter, who cares if he is taken at No. 12 or No. 25? (Especially with a rookie wage scale on the horizon.) Do you think anyone cares now that the New York Jets traded a bounty in 2009 to move up to the No. 5 overall spot and "reach" for quarterback Mark Sanchez?