Draft Needs - NFC North (04/23/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
NFL Team Needs – NFC North edition

The NFL Draft, which begins on April 30, is fast approaching. Every team hopes to use their picks to fill a position of need. In the days leading up to the draft we will evaluate each team's biggest needs, greatest strengths and the best case scenario for the draft.

To objectively answer many questions related to the NFL including how to rank individual units and at exactly which positions teams can and should improve, we assign impact scores for every current NFL starter.

The impact score is a grade on a 0-10 scale based on a player's expected overall positive contribution at their current ages and relative to position. In the score, a seven or above can generally outperform a replacement player in the NFL at his position; an eight or above can be expected to start and a player with a rating over nine is a unique, standout player who stars.

NFC North – click for NFC East, AFC East

Green Bay Packers

Top needs: Defensive Tackle, Defensive End, Linebacker

Greatest Strength: Skill Positions

Green Bay enjoys one of the best collections of skill position players in the league. Their poor NFC North rivals will have to deal with Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb through at least the 2018 season, that's rough. Plus the Packers have Eddie Lacy, a 9.2 out of 10 (3rd best RB in NFL), to pound the rock.

Best Case Scenario:

When you have Rodgers, the best quarterback in the NFL (impact score of 9.5 out of 10), on your team, the offense takes care of itself. The lone need is in the defensive front seven. Defensive tackle is the only position where the Packers do not have at least one above average starter. Green Bay could also use help at inside linebacker where they had to play Clay Matthews at times last season.

Detroit Lions

Top needs: Defensive End, Linebacker, Quarterback

Greatest Strength: Defense

You lose Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley but still have the second overall defense, that is impressive. Adding Haloti Ngata helped with the departures but this is just a talented squad with above average starters at every position. The Lions enjoy a top ten defensive line and front seven, plus the 11th overall secondary.

Best Case Scenario:

This is a talented team that does not have a lot of needs and will likely challenge Green Bay for the division title once again. Detroit ranks 11th offensively and second defensively and finished as the seventh overall team last year in our Power Rankings. An ideal draft would add depth on the defensive side of the ball.

Minnesota Vikings

Top needs: Offensive Line, Running Back, Receiver

Greatest Strength: Secondary

Minnesota has a sneaky good secondary. There aren't any big names but a lot of homegrown talent. Each starter in the secondary is above average. With the defensive line, the secondary makes up the only units on the team that rank in the top ten in the NFL.

Best Case Scenario:

It's all about Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings found their quarterback of the future in last year's draft. Now they need to protect him and give him weapons. Adrian Peterson is such a player. He has an impact score of 8.8 out of 10, far better than any back on the roster and the most talented skill position player in Minnesota. The Vikings are entertaining trading Peterson. Regardless of what becomes of their Pro Bowl running back; this draft should be focused on building around Bridgewater.

Chicago Bears

Top needs: Defensive Line, Secondary, Offensive Line

Greatest Strength: Running Back

If you are a Bears fan, last year was ugly. Jay Cutler, the franchise quarterback, was benched and the team went 5-11, the worst record in ten years resulting in Marc Trestman being fired. When a team loses, especially when it has playoff expectations, the blame falls on the head coach. To be fair to Trestman, this team isn't very talented. The best unit, skill position players, ranks just 20th overall in the NFL. Matt Forte, with an impact score of 8.7 out of 10, is their best player and he is quickly approaching 30 entering his eighth season in the league.

Best Case Scenario:

The defense is a dumpster fire. The Bears have below average starters at nearly every position. John Fox will be hoping to find one or two quality starters to revamp a once great Chicago defense.

NFC North Unit Rankings

Team Offense Defense Skill O-line D-line Front 7 Secondary
Green Bay Packers 1 19 2 4 21 22 4
Detroit Lions 11 2 15 12 8 6 11
Minnesota Vikings 28 8 24 26 9 14 3
Chicago Bears 22 31 20 22 29 24 31