2012 NFL Draft Grades: Breaking Down First Round for Powerhouse NFC North

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2012 NFL Draft Grades: Breaking Down First Round for Powerhouse NFC North
Al Bello/Getty Images

The first round is in the books for the 2012 NFL Draft, and there are some very clear winners and losers, especially in the tightly-packed NFC North. 

Last year saw the Lions take a huge step in the right direction, but the Packers will be just as dynamic on offense going into the season. 

The Chicago Bears always get lost in the shuffle with the national media, but there is just as good a reason to keep them on your radar for their next campaign. 

That brings us to the Minnesota Vikings, the big winners from night one. 

Let's delve right into what was an exciting round one filled with trades and great the powerhouse teams from the north. 

1. Minnesota Vikings

Al Bello/Getty Images

Grade: A+

They were my big winners of the night, pulling off a solid trade early that saw them address a need and still get a pick late. 

The Vikings preyed on the Browns' fear of having Trent Richardson slip on past them, making them the perfect target for a slight shuffle of the picks. 

The Vikings moved down and took Matt Kalil, the most complete tackle on the board. His durability and talent will have him shoring up the line for years in Minnesota. 

That brings me to their underrated pick in the bottom half of the round, taking safety Harrison Smith with the 29th selection. 

Smith has tremendous instincts and football IQ. He has the speed and power to play up front or back in coverage and will give the Vikings a great measure of versatility. 

2. Detroit Lions

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Grade: B+

This is a great value pick, getting the stout Riley Reiff with the No. 23 selection overall. 

The impetus moving forward is to protect Matthew Stafford and Reiff will do just that. He has the footwork to stay in front of the rush but can be just as dangerous pushing up as a run blocker. 

This is a perfect fit for a Lions team that is much better after one round. 

3. Green Bay Packers

Al Bello/Getty Images

Grade: B

They take Nick Perry with the 28th pick overall and get the best pass-rusher at the time. The Packers needed someone to take on more of the heavy lifting in breaching the line and getting to the QB. 

This is a team too reliant on the blitz, and they can now be far more versatile in their defense. With some grooming, Perry may be the defensive steal of the late rounds. 

4. Chicago Bears

Al Bello/Getty Images

Grade: C

Shea McClellin wasn't the worst pick of the night, but it certainly wasn't a revolutionary one either. The Bears may have been better served taking a pure pass-rusher like Whitney Mercilus or Nick Perry. 

There may have been a good offensive lineman to take as well. Instead, they took a solid player that has second-round value all over him. 

McClellin does have value as a pass-rusher, but has issues off the blocks. This is a measured gamble that will take time to see if he can polish his game playing up front. 

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