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Thursday, May 17, 2012
Football Outsiders: NFC North needs

By Kevin Seifert

Our friends at Football Outsiders have reached the NFC North juncture of their annual post-draft needs series for You'll need an Insider subscription to read the entire file Insider but I can provide you a snippet of the needs that Outsiders' statistical analysis points to for each of our teams.

Chicago Bears
Offensive line
Excerpt: Left tackle J'Marcus Webb "led the league with 15 offensive penalties in 2011."
Seifert comment: We've been through this before. Outsiders suggests the Bears seek a swing tackle via free agency, but indications are that the team envisions 2008 first-round pick Chris Williams in that role.

Detroit Lions
Excerpt: Free-agent acquisition Jacob Lacey "ranked 81st in success rate against the pass last year and 88th in 2010."
Seifert comment: The Lions prioritize the havoc they can create with a dynamic defensive line over whatever shortcomings they might have in the secondary. Lacey will compete with Aaron Berry and perhaps rookie Dwight Bentley for a starting job.

Green Bay Packers
Backup quarterback
Excerpt: "If any injury causes [Aaron] Rodgers to miss action, the Packers are looking at trotting out either super raw seventh-round rookie B.J. Coleman or undrafted and utterly untested third-year man Graham Harrell."
Seifert comment: In 2008, the Packers set a precedent of using an untested backup in Matt Flynn. There isn't league-wide certainty that Harrell is prepared to be a No. 2 in 2012, but the Packers are more likely to use him in that role than sign a veteran free agent.

Minnesota Vikings
Middle linebacker
Excerpt: "There's no evidence suggesting that [Jasper] Brinkley can handle the full slate of middle linebacker duties."
Seifert comment: All indications are that Brinkley will get the first chance to replace E.J. Henderson. There isn't a notable alternative on the roster, but it's a position where a temporary starter could be signed during training camp. But the Vikings are committed to getting younger and Brinkley is 26.