NFL Draft 2012: 5 1st Round Picks Who Can Replace NFC North Starters
Going into the 2012 season, there are three teams in the NFC North who have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings are in a re-building process and will likely struggle to get into the postseason, especially with the injury to Adrian Peterson.
This year's NFL draft has many potential first-round players who can make an immediate impact in the NFC North. Let's take a look at which first-round prospects can become a starter right out of the draft.
1. Matt Kalil
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The Vikings have a need at left tackle and Matt Kalil is the perfect fit. Kalil is the number one offensive lineman available in the draft and the Vikings would be foolish if they pass on him.
Kalil has a good combination of strength and speed and has a good burst off the line.
Charlie Johnson was the left tackle last season and coach Leslie Frasier has already talked about moving him to guard, if they draft Kalil.
At USC, Kalil played in a pro-style offense, which helped develop him into the player he is today. Having this prior experience will help Kalil become an instant starter and help protect Christian Ponder's blindside.
2. Michael Floyd
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The Chicago Bears have the 19th pick in this year's draft. It would be a shock if they do not draft a wide receiver.
The Bears have struggled for years trying to find a receiver for their team. Last season, running back Matt Forte was their leader in receptions, even though he missed part of the season. The leading receiver in catches was Johnny Knox with 37.
Michael Floyd has had some off-the-field issues in the past, but the Bears should take the risk with him. He has good size at 6'3" and is good at getting the ball at its highest point. He isn't afraid to run across the middle and is very physical at the line.
Jay Cutler needs someone he can trust to throw the ball to. If Floyd is drafted, Cutler will work throughout the entire offseason developing their chemistry. Cutler will know that he has one go-to receiver, and that would be Floyd.
Expect the Bears to draft a receiver in the first round, most likely Floyd, as it is a desperate need for them.
3. Cordy Glenn
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The Detroit Lions had a coming-out party last year, making the playoffs for the first time since 1999. However, it was clear that the team had some major flaws that needed to be fixed.
In this year's draft the Lions can go a couple of different ways with their first-round selection.
They have a need for an offensive lineman which might lead them to drafting Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn.
Glenn was invited to the Senior Bowl and impressed scouts. He played both tackle and guard during the game and was impressive at both. The Lions will be able to try Glenn at either spot and figure out which position he plays the best.
4. Stephon Gilmore
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Another option the Lions might take with their pick is a cornerback. The Lions struggled defending prolific passing offenses throughout the season. Match-ups against the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints are prime examples.
Most teams do struggle going against those offenses. However, if the Lions want to make it to the Super Bowl, they are going to have to go by these teams.
Stephon Gilmore would be an excellent choice for the Lions because he has the ability to start at cornerback his rookie year. Playing along side Chris Houston, Gilmore can be a playmaker for the Lions secondary because he has great ball skills. He has great size for a cornerback and is good at jamming receivers at the line.
He lacks speed, but he counters that with his strength and his intelligence on the field.
5. Peter Konz
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The Packers had a great regular season that was followed by a disappointing postseason. Their defense was ranked last in passing yards allowed and was 27th in sacks.
Outside of Clay Matthews, there was a lack of a pass rush. Going into the draft, fans have expected the Packers to go with an outside linebacker to compliment Matthews. This makes sense considering outside linebacker Erik Walden is a free agent and will probably not be re-signed.
However, recent reports have said that the Packers Pro Bowl center, Scott Wells, will not be re-signed by the Packers. This is surprising news given the value Wells has brought to the team.
The only explanation the Packers can have for letting someone like Wells walk, is what they have planned for the draft.
Letting Wells go could be a sign that the front office, along with Mike McCarthy, are thinking about drafting Peter Konz. He is the highest ranked center coming out of the draft and has great potential. With Wells out of the picture, he would be an instant starter.