NFC North: Senior Bowl

As the Senior Bowl practices build up to Saturday’s game, I figured we could have some fun and try matching one participant with each NFC North team. I did my best to consider where each team is drafting, but this is mostly about filling needs -- and enjoying ourselves in the dark days of the early NFL offseason.

Remember, our friends at Scouts Inc. are putting together a daily blog of practice evaluation over on our draft page. Here goes nothing:

Chicago Bears
Player: Nebraska safety Larry Asante
Comment: Safety might be the Bears’ top need, and we all know they don’t have a pick in either the first or second rounds of the 2010 draft. So it’s worth noting that Asante has impressed Todd McShay and Co. with his across-the-board skills. He might not be an elite cover safety, but you don’t have to be in a Cover-2 scheme like the Bears’.

Detroit Lions
Player: Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount
Comment: I know I’ve advocated the Lions focus on improving both of their lines, but that doesn’t mean they should ignore a pretty significant need at running back. Kevin Smith’s torn anterior cruciate ligament makes him a question mark for next season. We all know Blount has some serious character issues, but the Lions’ coaching staff is getting an up-close look at him as one of their players this week on the North squad. If nothing else, the Lions should leave Mobile, Ala., with a good idea of whether his reputation is valid. If they are comfortable with him, he could be a draft value. If they’re not, the Lions are also getting long looks at offensive linemen like Idaho’s Mike Iupati. Here is McShay’s running evaluation of Blount, available to Insider subscribers.

Green Bay Packers
Player: UMass offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse
Ducasse comes from a smaller program, but he fits the profile of many lineman the Packers have drafted: Players who could potentially develop into a tackle or guard depending on need. The draft’s best offensive linemen aren’t at the Senior Bowl, but Ducasse is scouts have paid attention to during practices. Here is McShay’s evaluation.

Minnesota Vikings
Player: Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike
Comment: The Vikings need to identify a long-term answer at quarterback, whether or not Brett Favre returns in 2010. The top arms don’t attend the Senior Bowl, but Pike is a mid-round draft pick with the size (6-foot-6) and arm strength to develop into an NFL starter. Here is what McShay thinks of him. Pike’s biggest obstacle is transitioning from a spread offense to more of a pro style.
Posted by's Kevin Seifert

Greetings on a warm morning in the Valley of the Sun, although the sun hasn't come up yet, making it hard to confirm we're in a valley. Anyway, let's hit the best reads of the NFC North before hopping on a plane here at Sky Harbor Airport. (Thanks for the wireless, by the way.)

  • Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times recalls that Arizona assistant head coach/offensive line Russ Grimm was once a candidate for the Bears' top job. Grimm famously referred to the Bears' owners as the "McClaskey" family.
  • John Niyo of the Detroit News sets up the Lions' week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where they will be scouting draft prospects and also seeking assistant coaches.
  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press asks the $64 million question: If the Arizona Cardinals can make the Super Bowl, why can't the Lions?
  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Philadelphia would not have let defensive backs coach Sean McDermott out of his contract to allow him to interview for the Packers' defensive coordinator job. The Packers decided to hire Dom Capers on Sunday night for the job.
  • Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier spoke to the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press about his failure to land a head coaching job this offseason. Said Frazier: "I did everything I could do. I'm honestly not disappointed because I have such a good job here with the Vikings."