NFL draft preview: NFC North and AFC North picks




First-round pick: No. 3

For several weeks, the widespread belief has been the Vikings will use the third pick on USC left tackle

Matt Kalil

, and that's still likely to happen. As the draft nears, though, there's speculation the team might take Oklahoma State receiver

Justin Blackmon

, a complement to

Percy Harvin

. The Vikings also could use help along the defensive line and in the secondary.


First-round pick: No. 19

Consider two of the opposing quarterbacks in the division -- the Packers'

Aaron Rodgers

and the



Matthew Stafford

-- and that underscores why the Bears want a bookend pass rusher to

Julius Peppers

. Defensive coordinator

Rod Marinelli

made a trip to USC to work out

Nick Perry

, and that defensive end could be a fit. The Bears likely will continue to look for offensive line help.


First-round pick: No. 23

If anyone doubts the Lions need serious help in the secondary, consider that former Packers backup

Matt Flynn

burned them for 480 yards and six touchdowns on

New Year's Day

. Detroit covets safety

Mark Barron

, but the Alabama standout isn't likely to be there when the Lions pick at No. 23. Watch for them to try to trade up.


First-round pick: No. 28

The Packers could use their first-round pick on a defensive lineman or pass-rushing outside linebacker. Boise State's

Shea McClellin

could be a fit there, as could Perry or others. The Packers also will be looking for help on the offensive line. They should be able to build depth at cornerback and quarterback in later rounds.



First-round picks: Nos. 4 and 22

The Browns' No. 4 pick could be the first pivot point in the draft. They need a running back, so Alabama's

Trent Richardson

works there, but they also are looking for a quarterback, so it could be Texas A&M's

Ryan Tannehill

or Oklahoma State's

Brandon Weeden

. If the Browns wait until their second pick the quarterbacks could be gone.


First-round picks: Nos. 17 and 21

The two most pressing needs for the Bengals are a running back and a cornerback. Their first pick is No. 17, where they likely could get a good tailback such as Virginia Tech's

David Wilson

or Boise State's

Doug Martin

. The two best cornerbacks, LSU's

Morris Claiborne

and South Carolina's

Stephon Gilmore

, are probably going to be off the board.


First-round pick: No. 24

Age has caught up to the Steelers, who are loaded with thirtysomethings and need to get younger. Their offensive line has been a problem area for several years, so watch for them to pick up some blockers in this draft. Defense has historically defined this franchise, and one player who has caught the Steelers' eye is massive Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower.


First-round pick: No. 29

The Ravens are getting old in some key areas but are in position to make a

Super Bowl

run as is, so this draft largely is about building depth. Like the Steelers, the Ravens like Hightower, who fits their defensive scheme. The Ravens also could use some help on the interior of their offensive line, having lost left guard

Ben Grubbs

to free agency.