NFC North: NFL draft 2011

We've spent some time discussing the Green Bay Packers' future at receiver as James Jones approaches free agency. Normally, a team that features Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson wouldn't consider receiver a priority, but the possible departure of Jones and Driver's age (36) made it a position of (some) need.

Enter Randall Cobb, a 5-foot-10 playmaker who will have a chance to develop in the Packers offense but who ultimately should provide them a unique presence in multiple spots. He might even be the punt and/or kickoff returner the Packers lacked last season.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy runs plenty of four- and even five-receiver sets, making receiver depth more important than for most teams. I imagine McCarthy is already thinking of the possibilities for Cobb, who played both running back and receiver for Kentucky.

Last season, in fact, Cobb averaged 7.7 yards per carry in the running game (55 carries for 424 yards) and also caught 84 passes for 1,017 yards. He accounted for a total of 12 touchdowns. If you're thinking he is a smaller version of Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, you would be on to something. Cobb also returned two punts for touchdowns in his career and averaged 24.6 yards on kickoff returns.

Right after the pick, I got an email from an avid reader we'll call John B.

"Just what the Packers need," the email read. "Another receiver."

That about covers it. The rich got richer Friday night.

The Chicago Bears were at the mercy of 28 other teams Thursday night in their efforts to improve their offensive line. Their best-case scenario was for one of the to offensive tackles to get pushed down the board by a run at quarterbacks, and that's exactly how Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi was available when the Bears' turn arrived.

The Bears wasted little time drafting a player who called himself "the best tackle available" during the February scouting combine. At 6-foot-7 and 314 pounds, he could play either left or right tackle for the Bears but should be an immediate starter regardless. Offensive line coach Mike Tice has experience developing young (and big) linemen, and I would imagine he hit the roof Thursday night when the Bears turned in their card.

With Carimi on board, the Bears at least have a starting point in assembling their starting lineup. They can plug him in at one spot and then begin adjusting the rest of their players accordingly. The early guess is that he will start his career at right tackle, but that's only if the Bears feel comfortable with one of their incumbents -- Frank Omiyale, Chris Williams or J'Marcus Webb -- playing left tackle.

But if you're a Bears fan who watched your team give up a sack every 9.9 dropbacks last season, by far the highest rate in the NFL, you're feeling pretty good right now.

Earlier: Carimi falls to the Bears in our Blog Network mock draft.

Quick Take: Packers at Falcons

January, 9, 2011
Three things to know about Saturday night's Green Bay Packers-Atlanta Falcons divisional-round playoff game at the Georgia Dome:

1. The Packers have been eagerly looking forward to a postseason rematch with the Falcons after a close and highly entertaining game in Week 12. In that Nov. 28 contest at the Georgia Dome, the Packers drove 90 yards on 16 plays for a game-tying touchdown with 56 seconds remaining. But the Falcons won on Matt Bryant's 47-yard field goal after a long kickoff return and a face-mask penalty put them about 20 yards from field goal range. "We thought we left a lot out there on the field in that game," cornerback Charles Woodson said Sunday. "There was some stops that we could have made all throughout that game defensively that we didn't make the stop on. ... We felt like we left some football out there on the field. This time that won't happen."

2. The Packers are in a groove. Green Bay will have a short week of preparation, while the Falcons will have had two weeks off by game time. But the Packers wouldn't have it any other way. The way they see it, Sunday evening's victory was their third consecutive playoff win. In truth, they went into postseason mentality in Week 16, knowing they could guarantee an actual postseason berth by victories in their final two regular-season games. Defeating the New York Giants and Chicago Bears in successive weeks seemed to have them in the appropriate mindset Sunday and moving forward. "No doubt about it," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. Said cornerback Tramon Williams: "I'm not sure if anyone wants to play us right now."

3. Two of the savviest young field generals in the NFL will square off in this game. Rodgers produced a 122.5 passer rating Sunday in winning his first playoff game. Meanwhile, the Falcons' Matt Ryan has lost only twice at the Georgia Dome in his three-year career. It could be the first of many postseason battles between these two quarterbacks.

No lie: Scouting the 2011 draft

April, 26, 2010
Oh yeah. We've heard you loud and clear: You must know the top prospects for the 2011 draft RIGHT NOW.

You ask and we deliver, even if you didn't really ask. In the video below, former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah offers his top-five prospects for 2011. He suggests that four quarterbacks could go in the top-15 overall and names two -- Stanford's Andrew Luck and Washington's Jake Locker -- as his top two prospects overall.