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Thursday, November 29, 2012
DraftWatch: Establishing a baseline for 2013

By Kevin Seifert

The NFL draft is a year-round enterprise, and so I'm sure plenty of you will eat up every word in this week's Hot Read. ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay addressed 10 key questions about the 2013 draft, and here are some NFC North-related nuggets with my comments:

McShay: "It's not a good 'TV draft.' NFL teams want great talent at every single position, but a vast majority of teams are not in dire straits and looking for a quarterback, and would rather see the depth where it is in this class: on the offensive and defensive lines."
Seifert comment: I could see that sentiment applying to all of our teams except perhaps the Minnesota Vikings. We have some deep groups of receivers and three ultra-established quarterbacks, the positions McShay is referring to by 'TV draft.' The Chicago Bears in particular should be on the lookout for offensive tackles.

Kiper: "For just 'pure sleeper' in the sense of a guy nobody has seen, I'll go with Eric Fisher of Central Michigan, who could be starting for someone at tackle next season.
Seifert comment: NFC North fans can also be MAC fans, so I'm guessing a few of you have heard of Fisher. He is a 6-foot-8 tackle who might end up on the radar of, say, the Bears or even the Green Bay Packers. Are we sure that Marshall Newhouse is the Packers' long-term left tackle? And can we trust that 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod will ever play again? Sherrod isn't ready to play now, nearly a year after suffering a gruesome broken leg.

McShay: "This [quarterback] class better resembles the 2011 class than the 2012 class."
Kiper: "Right now, I don't have a QB rated among my top 20 overall players... ."
Seifert comment: A relatively weak group of blue-chippers, led by USC's Matt Barkley and West Virginia's Geno Smith, could factor in for the Vikings. If you assume that quarterback value is artificially inflated, Barkley and Smith will be drafted higher than where they should be based on pure potential. That would leave even fewer options for the Vikings if they decide to give Christian Ponder some legitimate long-term competition.

McShay: "If you talk to front office personnel, they would agree that the defensive linemen in this draft are really an impressive group. You have the elite guys, but you have guys late in the first round, early in the second who can become a centerpiece on your defensive line for many years."
Seifert comment: I wouldn't consider defensive line an area of need for any particular NFC North team, but some key players are at least in the second half of their careers. Among them: the Bears' Julius Peppers (32), the Vikings' Kevin Williams (32) and Jared Allen (30), the Detroit Lions' Kyle Vanden Bosch (34) and the Packers' Ryan Pickett (33). The best way to look at this aspect of the draft is that NFC North teams will have an opportunity to fortify their strengths.