NFC North: Ryan Matthews

SAN DIEGO -- Greetings from Qualcomm Stadium, where -- yes -- there was a tarp on the field Sunday morning to guard against a rare rainy forecast here in Southern California. It sounds like we'll be safe through late afternoon, but it's a relatively cool 59 degrees and not expected to go much past 61 degrees today.

As a visiting Midwesterner, I'm bitter but determined. I'm in short sleeves in the San Diego Chargers' outdoor press box and vowing not to throw on the jacket even though the natives are all in sweaters and pea coats. So there.

My trip from the hotel to the stadium revealed high anticipation for the swarm of Green Bay Packers fans expected to attend this game. A few enterprising locals were standing in at intersections hawking Packers gear to the fans entering stadium parking lots. Business was brisk.

One football note to pass along before we get our inactive list: Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (groin) is not expected to play Sunday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

NFC North Friday injury report

November, 4, 2011
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With two teams on bye this week and a third not playing until Monday night, our Friday injury report is a bit light.

All but two Green Bay Packers will be available for Sunday's game at the San Diego Chargers, and those two players -- left tackle Chad Clifton and defensive end Mike Neal -- are no surprises. The Chargers declared defensive lineman Luis Castillo (tibia) and guard Kris Dielman (concussion) out of the game, and linebacker Shaun Phillips (foot) is doubtful.

Neither wide receiver Malcom Floyd (hip) nor running back Ryan Mathews practiced this week for the Chargers. Both are listed as questionable.

Meanwhile, every Chicago Bears player had full participation in practice Thursday, except offensive lineman Gabe Carimi (knee), who wasn't expected to play Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles anyway. The Bears have one more day before issuing the game status for their roster, but it doesn't appear there will be any other issues.

Draft Watch: NFC North

April, 7, 2011
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: history in that spot.

Chicago Bears

The Bears' top pick is No. 29 overall. Here are the past seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:

2010: Cornerback Kyle Wilson (New York Jets)

2009: Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants)

2008: Defensive end Kentwan Balmer (San Francisco 49ers)

2007: Offensive guard Ben Grubbs (Baltimore Ravens)

2006: Center Nick Mangold (New York Jets)

2005: Defensive back Marlin Jackson (Indianapolis Colts)

2004: Wide receiver Michael Jenkins (Atlanta Falcons)

ANALYSIS: The bottom of the first round is a great place to find starting-caliber guards and centers. The top tackles are usually off the board. Fortunately for the Bears, they could use a guard or center just as much as a tackle. While coach Lovie Smith wants to bring back veteran center Olin Kreutz, a free agent, he will have to be replaced someday. And more depth at guard could allow the Bears to move 2008 first-round draft pick Chris Williams back to left tackle.

Detroit Lions

The Lions' top pick is No. 13 overall. Here are the past seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:

2010: Defensive end Brandon Graham (Philadelphia Eagles)

2009: Defensive end Brian Orakpo (Washington Redskins)

2008: Running back Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers)

2007: Defensive lineman Adam Carriker (St. Louis Rams)

2006: Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (Cleveland Browns)

2005: Offensive lineman Jammal Brown (New Orleans Saints)

2004: Receiver Lee Evans (Buffalo Bills)

ANALYSIS: Unfortunately for the Lions, this isn't a great spot to get an elite cornerback. Those types of players are usually drafted in the top seven or eight picks. (The Lions are hoping that Nebraska's Prince Amukamara somehow slips through the cracks.) This is a nice area to draft a second-tier defensive lineman, and this year, the Lions will probably have their pick of offensive tackles as well.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers' top pick is No. 32 overall. Here are the past seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:

2010: Cornerback Patrick Robinson (New Orleans Saints)

2009: Defensive tackle Ziggy Hood (Pittsburgh Steelers)

2008: Defensive end Phillip Merling (Miami Dolphins)*

2007: Receiver Anthony Gonzalez (Indianapolis Colts)

2006: Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (New York Giants)

2005: Offensive guard Logan Mankins (New England Patriots)

2004: Tight end Benjamin Watson (New England Patriots)

*First pick of second round.

ANALYSIS: There are some awfully productive players on this list. Part of the reason is that the previous year's most successful organization was in that spot and thus was more likely to make a good scouting decision. But it also tells us the Packers should have an opportunity to select a player who can make an immediate impact as long as they don't limit themselves to certain positions.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings' top pick is No. 12 overall. Here are the past seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:

2010: Running back Ryan Mathews (San Diego Chargers)

2009: Running back Knowshon Moreno (Denver Broncos)

2008: Offensive tackle Ryan Clady (Denver Broncos)

2007: Running back Marshawn Lynch (Buffalo Bills)

2006: Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata (Baltimore Ravens)

2005: Linebacker Shawne Merriman (San Diego Chargers)

2004: Linebacker Jonathan Vilma (New York Jets)

ANALYSIS: This list tells us what we knew already: You can get a blue-chip, impact player here if you exercise good judgment. The Vikings' decision, of course, will be complicated by their need for a quarterback. What will they do if they have, say, a potentially elite pass-rusher like North Carolina's Robert Quinn available to them? Take Quinn and look for a quarterback later? Or prioritize the quarterback?

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