NFC North: Pat White
We here at the ESPN Blog Network decided to have some fun and conduct our own mock draft. Its intrinsic value rates somewhere below the efforts of actual experts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, but it was fun nonetheless.
I'll expand my explanations for the NFC North picks below, including one highly controversial choice for which I'm certain to absorb an unmerciful flogging. Onward...
No. 1 overall
Detroit Lions: Quarterback Matthew Stafford
Why: I think it's pretty clear the Lions have targeted Stafford over Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. Otherwise, Curry probably would be signed by now. Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith is also a candidate, but in the end it seems the Lions want to open their new era with a blue-chip building block at the game's most important position.
No. 9 overall
Green Bay Packers: Andre Smith
Why: AFC South colleague Paul Kuharsky made this choice a bit easier by taking Boston College nose tackle B.J. Raji off the board one pick earlier. Some of the defensive names previously connected to the Packers were still available, including Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin and LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson. But in this scenario I think Packers general manager Ted Thompson would select the best player available. It just so happens Green Bay has a need at the position as well.
No. 20 overall
Lions: Running back Knowshon Moreno
Why: Ah, yes. I will accept virtual pummeling via the mailbag. I know the Lions have more pressing needs than at running back. And I'm well aware they have a good young tailback in Kevin Smith and signed veteran Maurice Morris in free agency. I guess I'm just taking coach Jim Schwartz at his word that the Lions won't allow need to trump talent in this draft. When I looked at the players left on the board at this spot, I thought Moreno was clearly the best value. The Lions aren't necessarily targeting Moreno, but I think they will seek out the best value -- regardless of position -- at every spot in this draft.
No. 22 overall
Minnesota Vikings: Offensive tackle Eben Britton
Why: I went with the best offensive tackle available even with all of the draft's second-tier receivers still available (Darrius Heyward-Bey, Percy Harvin, Kenny Britt and Hakeem Nicks among them). This might be a few spots too high to take Britton, but in the end I'm not totally convinced the Vikings are targeting a first-round receiver. And that was before news surfaced that they worked out West Virginia quarterback/receiver Pat White.
It was interesting to note this FoxSports.com story from Alex Marvez, which reports that Minnesota officials conducted a private workout Tuesday with West Virginia quarterback Pat White.
White has gained some draft traction as a possible "Wildcat" quarterback/running back given his athleticism and a 6-foot frame that might not make him an ideal full-time passer. But the Vikings have never displayed a remote interest in the Wildcat formation, and in fact, coach Brad Childress appeared disinterested in the trend as it developed last year. Childress runs a traditional power offense with little to no gimmicks.
According to the report, the Vikings consider White a quarterback/receiver prospect. It's also possible they envision him as a kickoff and punt returner. White could be a less expensive version of Florida receiver Percy Harvin, a potential first-round target for the Vikings.
A workout four days before the draft typically means a team has either serious questions or serious interest in a player and needs another look before finalizing its board ranking. White can certainly make an impact on an NFL offense, but the Vikings would have to make some alterations to their scheme in order to maximize his skills.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- The Vikings need immediate impact from their first-round draft pick, writes Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo believes the presence of new quarterback Jay Cutler will improve the Bears' receiving corps, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune defends Cutler's night prowling. Haugh: "Cutler is young, single and clearly enjoys being welcomed in this city as a football messiah. So let him. There is nothing illegal about an NFL quarterback being the life of the party, especially in April."
- Angelo downplayed the possibility of pursuing receiver Plaxico Burress, according to Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald.
- Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry said he would be "more than happy" to accept a deal from Detroit that is worth less than what the No. 1 overall pick received in the 2008 draft. That quote and more from Sirius NFL Radio via Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press.
- Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said he and coach Jim Schwartz will agree on every pick the team makes this weekend. John Niyo of the Detroit News reports.
- Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette runs through the Packers' options with the No. 9 overall pick.