What NFC, AFC North teams seek in NFL draft
The Times’ Sam Farmer analyzes team needs by divisions in four parts ahead of the NFL draft, to be held April 23-25. Today, Part 3 the North, in order teams will draft:
Lions: With the third pick, the Lions are in prime position to trade down with a team badly in need of a quarterback. But is there any team willing to give up the necessary picks? Having traded Darius Slay, Detroit needs help at cornerback. Theirs was the lowest-interception rate of any defense, and Ohio State corner Jeff Okudah could help right away.
Vikings: Two selections in the first round mean the Vikings can address their needs at cornerback and on the offensive line. For a Mike Zimmer-coached team, it was uncharacteristically mediocre against the pass last season. The interior of the offensive line is suspect, and could be improved with a young tackle who could move inside.
Packers: Green Bay signed veteran receiver Devin Funchess but there’s no guarantee he’ll be the bookend to Davante Adams the club is seeking. The Packers should be able to pick up a solid wideout late in the first round, and maybe someone who can be a special-teams standout. Linebacker is an area of need too, as is offensive tackle.
Bears: The Bears, who don’t have a first-round pick, signed tight end Jimmy Graham from the Packers and cornerback Artie Burns from Pittsburgh, but no free agents who are going to get anyone too excited. The team traded for Nick Foles but it’s unclear if he’s the answer at QB. Maybe they go for a second-tier QB with one of their two second-round picks.
Bengals: For months it has been projected the Bengals will draft Louisiana State quarterback Joe Burrow, marking the second time they’ve used the No. 1 pick on a quarterback (Carson Palmer, 2003). It’s a longshot, but Cincinnati might be open to dropping out of that spot, although it would take a lot of picks. The team needs help all over the roster.
Browns: The Browns made some interesting acquisitions in free agency, including right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Austin Hooper. But this is a team that still needs an offensive tackle — Cleveland was terrible there last season — and the Browns should be able to get a good one at 10. With Joe Schobert now in Jacksonville, Cleveland could use another solid linebacker as well.
Ravens: The Ravens have their corners buttoned down with Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey but could use help at safety, and there are a couple of really good ones who figure to go in the first round. All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda has retired, so filling his considerable cleats is also a priority.
Steelers: For the first time since 1967, the Steelers do not have a selection in the opening round. This club always seems to address its defense early, so this might be the time to provide quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with another weapon. Good thing this is a draft rich with receivers, because Pittsburgh likely could get a good one with the 49th pick.
NEXT: West divisions.
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