NFC North: Kyle Moore
No player has worn No. 50 for the Chicago Bears since Mike Singletary's last game 21 years ago, but it was not retired and apparently will not be anytime soon. The team issued it to new linebacker James Anderson, after a discussion between Singletary and chairman George McCaskey about the need to put it back in circulation.
McCaskey told Larry Mayer of the team's website: "I talked to Mike Singletary and told him that we hadn't assigned 50 to anybody since he retired and that we needed to put it back in circulation. He said he wasn't aware that it hadn't been assigned, that he's got no problem with it, and he's perfectly fine with it. In fact, he would prefer that it be assigned to somebody. He said, 'I'd rather somebody wear it than see it hanging it up in a window somewhere."
The NFL requires linebackers to wear numbers in either the 50s or the 90s. Two 50s have already been retired, No. 51 for Dick Butkus and No. 56 for Bill Hewitt. Singletary was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- The Bears are hosting California center/guard Brian Schwenke on a visit Wednesday, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
- The Bears also signed a center, free agent Taylor Boggs, and two defensive linemen -- Andre Fluellen and Kyle Moore -- on Tuesday, notes ESPNChicago.com.
- The Bears are "embracing change," said receiver Brandon Marshall via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com on the career of retired Detroit Lions place-kicker Jason Hanson: "There was nothing common about Hanson's 21-year career."
- Lions general manager Martin Mayhew on new place-kicker David Akers, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "Another solid veteran, a guy with a lot of experience and playoff experience. He's been kicking outdoors his whole career. We think he'll get a boost from kicking inside, so I think he'll be a good player for us."
- Retired Lions left tackle Jeff Backus, via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News: "I was extremely fortunate to play the number of years that I did. You start taking into account your age, the way your body feels -- it was an easy decision for me. I have three little kids. I want to run around the yard and play with them, have fun with them, coach them up and move on to that phase of my life. I've been extremely fortunate to play in Detroit for 12 years, to play for one team. The Ford Family has been great to me. The fans have been loyal. At the end of the day, it was just time for me to call it a career."
- Tim Twentyman of the Lions' website spoke with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, who visited the team's facility Tuesday.
- Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiles Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the brother of Green Bay Packers starter Aaron Rodgers.
- Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "Loyce Means would love to become the next Tramon Williams."
- The Minnesota Vikings remain in contact with cornerback Antoine Winfield, but it's unclear if he wants to return, according to Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.
- Vikings officials spent some time at Nike headquarters in Oregon viewing their new uniforms, which will be revealed April 25, according to Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune.
We've been talking about this thing since January. Now, we've finally made it to the eve of the NFL draft. Soon we'll be under way -- and actually getting some answers to the questions we've been asking for months.
Will the Lions actually make a pick at No. 20 and No. 33, as currently scheduled? We all know the Lions have five of the first 82 draft choices, but overall they have eight for the weekend. Given their across-the-board personnel needs, that's not a high total. (Especially when you consider they have none in the fourth or fifth rounds.) The lower third of the first round, and the top of the second, are considered high value picks and the Lions should have opportunities to trade at least one of them to accumulate more picks in the middle of the draft. Here's another question: If USC linebacker Rey Maualuga is available at No. 20, as he is in Mel Kiper Jr.'s final mock draft, do you take him or trade down?
Has Jeff Backus played his last down as a left tackle for the Lions? There has been talk of moving Backus to left guard if the Lions drafted a left tackle with the No. 1 overall pick. But assuming Stafford is the guy, Detroit might not be in position to draft a left tackle who is ready to start instantly. The Lions must hope Mississippi tackle Michael Oher falls to them at No. 20. A Stafford-Oher pairing not only would allow the Lions to move Backus to guard, but it would also give Detroit the flexibility to concentrate on defense for the remainder of the draft. For what it's worth, Kiper has Oher going to San Diego at No. 16.
Would Ted Thompson take Alabama tackle Andre Smith? The answer seems to depend on whom you talk to. I've heard from some people who don't think Thompson would take on a player with as many red flags as Smith has displayed, no matter how good a player he might be. (Smith left the scouting combine early, was out of shape at his pro day and recently changed agents.) Others consider Thompson a traditional personnel man whose top priority is football ability. If it's the latter, Smith will be a Packer if he's available. It's also possible we'll never find out. Kiper has Smith going to Cincinnati at No. 6, three spots ahead of the Packers' choice.
Where are the Packers going to get much-needed help at defensive end and linebacker if they go offense in the first round? Well, they still have an early second-round pick and two choices in the third to address those issues. For the sake of conversation, I'll pass along ESPN analyst Todd McShay's take in his seven-round mock draft. With the No. 41 overall pick, McShay had the Packers taking Cincinnati linebacker Connor Barwin. McShay also had the Packers taking Oregon cornerback Jairus Byrd in the third round and USC defensive end Kyle Moore in the fourth.
Would Minnesota really pull the trigger on Florida receiver Percy Harvin? We know the Vikings have put an awful lot of work into researching Harvin's history, probably more than could be expected if it were all a smokescreen. (Would coach Brad Childress really spend a day on Florida's campus three days before the draft just to throw off other teams?) There are so many red flags on Harvin that it's hard to believe the Vikings would draft him. But they might view him as a special talent who wouldn't be available at No. 22 were it not for the issues he has encountered. Alas, the Vikings might never get a chance to make this decision. Kiper, at least, has Harvin going to the New York Jets at No. 17.
If they miss or pass on Harvin, will the Vikings still take a receiver at No. 22? The whole world seems to think so. Kiper has them taking Rutgers receiver Kenny Britt, while McShay predicts Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey. I've been slow to this bandwagon, believing the Vikings would be more likely to take an offensive tackle if all things are equal. But as it turns out, all things might not be equal. Arizona tackle Eben Britton likely will be available at No. 22, but there are some indications the Vikings aren't high on Britton at that value spot.
Will Chicago get an impact player at No. 49 overall? It probably depends on what position they draft. Unless the market tanks, you can reasonably expect at least five receivers to be off the board when the Bears' pick arrives. The chances aren't high of the draft's sixth-best receiver contributing right away. If they go with a receiver, he's more likely to be a complementary/developmental player. The same can't be said for safety, however. If things fall the right way, the Bears could have their pick of perhaps every safety in the draft. Western Michigan's Louis Delmas, Alabama's Rashad Johnson and Missouri's William Moore could all compete for a starting job right away.