The 2013 NFL draft has finally arrived. In a matter of hours all the speculation will have been put to rest, and teams will have finally revealed which players they have secretly coveted all along.
It's a nearly unpredictable process, and at this point, who really knows what's going to take place between now and Saturday evening. All we really know is that it will be fun to watch and incredibly compelling for even the most average NFL fans.
One of the divisions that has become the most fun to watch in the past few years is the NFC North. With a ton of quality talent and overall depth, this division is jam-packed with superstars and teams on the verge of deep playoff runs.
And, with a total of 32 picks overall among all four teams, it would seem this division is only going to get better between now and the end of the weekend (via ESPN.com).
So who will be calling the Midwest home by the time Sunday rolls around?
Ahead I give you my best guesses to that question based on team fits and organizational needs—all while knowing I'll be lucky to even get one or more of these remotely correct.
Here goes nothing...
Round 1, Pick 26: Eric Reid, S, LSU
The Packers have been trying to fill the void left by Nick Collins from their secondary for quite some time. Adding Reid gives the Packers another option in the secondary, a player with the size and striking ability to make wide receivers like Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson think twice about going across the middle.
Round 2, Pick 55: Giovanni Bernard, RB, North Carolina
For the longest time, the Packers and Ted Thompson have avoided drafting running backs high, but Bernard offers them another dimension to their already potent offensive attack. With the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, Bernard is an instant contributor in the Packers screen game and has the nimble footwork and overall vision to become a solid inside runner.
Round 3, Pick 88: Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin
The Packers finally grab one of their own by nabbing an in-state product who can come in and compete right away. Wisconsin offensive linemen have a pedigree for being tough and technically sound players, and Frederick is no different. He should contribute right away, but if he is gone, don't rule out Alabama's Barrett Jones, who is a serviceable player in his own right.
Round 4, Pick 122: Montori Hughes, DT, Tennessee-Martin
Montori Hughes is a player who would likely go higher if it weren't for his off-the-field concerns. Nonetheless, getting him here gives the Packers another big body in the middle and a player who can rotate in and out to help spell B.J. Raji throughout the course of the game. Having a solid veteran locker room presence is the ideal situation for Hughes with his somewhat checkered past.
Round 5, Pick 158: A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State
Ted Thompson loves leaders and players who consistently produce at a high level. Klein is all that and more. Displaying fantastic instincts, Klein offers depth and value for a team that seems to lose at least one or two linebackers to injury nearly every year.
Round 5, Pick 167: Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee
The Packers seem to stockpile tight ends, and Rivera fits the mold of what Green Bay likes to do on offense. A natural pass-catcher and a player who can present mismatches while stretching the field, Rivera is a welcome addition for the Packers pass-happy offense.
Round 6, Pick 193: Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa
Hyde is an instinctive defender who excels in zone coverage and can come up and support the run. His versatility to play corner or safety and help out on special teams should earn him a spot on the roster and make him a valuable member moving forward.
Round 7, Pick 232: Colby Cameron, QB, Louisiana Tech
The fun thing would be to mock Aaron Rodgers' younger brother Jordan Rodgers to Green Bay here, but I think that would just be mean. Currently the Packers have Graham Harrell and BJ Coleman behind No. 12; however, there is always room for more competition. Cameron is a smart passer who rarely makes mistakes. Just a few of the traits that earned him the Sammy Baugh award as College Football's top overall passer this past season.
Round 1, Pick 23: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Ultimately I could see the Vikings going a few different ways here depending on who's available, but upgrading the defensive line should be one of their bigger priorities. Williams is an athletic player with the quickness to shoot gaps and cause instant penetration.
Pairing him with veteran Kevin Williams gives Minnesota the needed size inside and potential to once again restore the ever popular "Williams Wall" in the Land of Lakes.
Round 1, Pick 25: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The Vikings added former Green Bay star Greg Jennings this offseason but still have a need at the wide receiver position. Jarius Wright is a good player, but his game is better suited inside in the slot, and adding Hopkins here gives the Vikings a more balanced offensive attack.
As one of the better route runners, Hopkins isn't a beat-you-deep player, but he displays fantastic hands, body control and overall football awareness to become a valuable No. 2 option. A role he can fill from Day 1 to give Christian Ponder yet another reliable target on the outside.
Round 2, Pick 52: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
When you play in a division with wide receivers like Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson you better find corners with the size and length to match up physically. Banks' value has dropped because of his lack of long speed, however his ability to create turnovers is a natural skill that can't be taught. Protect him with help over the top, and Banks instantly becomes one of the better values at the cornerback position.
Round 3, Pick 83: Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon
Currently the Vikings have a huge hole at their inside linebacker position. Alonso needs the big men in front of him to stay clean, but his ability to to read and diagnose the play quickly is just one of his many strengths. An active defender with an unwavering motor, Alonso has the natural ability to start and contribute as early as Day 1.
Round 4, Pick 102: Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (Ohio)
This one may come as a bit of a surprise seeing as the Vikings already brought in veteran Matt Cassel to push Ponder, however Dysert is nearly too good to pass up at this point. With natural throwing ability and underrated athleticism to create plays outside the pocket, Dysert is a quarterback with a ton of natural talent to challenge for starting time as early as his rookie season.
Round 4, Pick 120: Shawn Williams, S, Georgia
The Vikings hit on Harrison Smith last draft, however, now the team must focus on finding their other starting safety. Williams is a player who doesn't stand out in any one area but is simply a solid football player and a defender who instantly upgrades one of Minnesota's positions of need.
Round 5, Pick 155: Mike Catapano, Princeton
One of the hotter names in the draft right now, Catapano is receiving plenty of attention and has his draft stock peaking at exactly the right time. Minnesota doesn't need him to contribute right away; let him learn behind Jared Allen and he could develop into a valuable starter in due time.
Round 6, Pick 189: J.C. Tretter, G, Cornell
The Vikings dip back into the Ivy League talent pool to nab another quality player in Cornell's J.C. Tretter. An athletic lineman who is still learning the position, Tretter is a surprisingly sound player with plenty of upside to start later on down the line. He will need to adapt to the speed and power of the game, but if he turns out to be anything like former Ivy League player Matt Birk, this pick would have to be considered a huge success.
Round 7, Pick 213: Josh Johnson,CB, Purdue
Johnson is not well known outside of Purdue, however that does not mean he hasn't caught the attention of NFL scouts. Vikings fans will love his competitive attitude and determination to compete despite his smaller size. Qualities that should allow him to stick and contribute on special teams very early in his NFL career.
Round 7, Pick 214: Brad Wing, P, LSU
Chris Kluwe is in the final year of his contract, making the addition of Wing a worthwhile investment. One of the better directional punters, Wing's ability to pin opponents deep is a trait that instantly helps a team win the field position battle.
Round 7, Pick 229: Kwame Geathers, DT, Georgia
Geathers is a big bodied interior defensive lineman who played in the battle-tested SEC. That fact alone makes him worthy of this selection, although he hasn't always played up to his level of potential. Nevertheless, he presents a low-risk, high-reward type of player at this point in the draft.
Round 1, Pick 20: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Bears lost their leader in Brian Urlacher and need someone to fill his place. Alec Ogletree is an obvious choice because of his range and overall athletic ability; however, the converted safety does have some looming questions surrounding his character.
Te'o, on the other hand, may not boast quite the physical gifts but is the more complete player. With a love for the game and leadership qualities that would make Urlacher proud, Te'o makes the most sense for me on a team trying to transition and move on from one of the game's best of all time.
Round 2, Pick 50: Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Bears fans have to be happy about the signing of Jermon Bushrod, however the offensive line should still be one of the team's main priorities.
I'm not positive Armstead will be available at this pick, but if he isn't, Kyle Long would also make a ton of sense. Either way expect Chicago to invest in an offensive lineman with one of their first two picks, if they truly are committed to giving Jay Cutler the protection and time he so desperately needs.
Round 4, Pick 117: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
I originally had Sanders Commings from Georgia slated to the Bears with this pick, however, after giving it some more thought, Poyer would seem to be the better fit in Chicago's defense.
As an opportunistic defender who excels in zone coverage because of his fantastic instincts, Poyer is exactly the type of playmaking corner the Bears typically covet.
Round 5, Pick 153: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Currently the Bears have very little in terms of depth and a true backup behind Cutler. Jones is a player who was once considered a potential first-round pick because of his natural overall skill set. Certainly not that highly coveted anymore, Jones should at the very least become a valuable backup at the next level, making him a solid selection for the Bears in the fifth round here.
Round 6, Pick 188: Marcus Davis, WR, Virgina Tech
From a height/weight/speed perspective, Davis would be one of the more elite wideouts in this draft, however, for athletic as he is, he is still very much a very raw and unrefined player overall. Learning the nuances of the game from one of the league's best receivers in Brandon Marshall should only help Davis if he is ever truly to reach his near limitless upside.
Round 1, Pick 5: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Jeff Backus' retirement left a huge and rather sudden void on Matt Stafford's blindside that will need to be addressed with this draft. There's no guarantee Fisher will be available with this pick, but if he is, the Lions must not hesitate to pull the trigger and draft the talented in-state product.
Round 2, Pick 36: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
This is a pick I believe Detroit could ultimately trade out of with one of the many teams looking to move up for a quarterback early in Round 2. Nevertheless, if they stay put, I believe they go with the "Best Player Available" approach, in which Taylor also fills a need.
Detroit has been burned in the past by selecting a Boise State player in Round 2 (Titus Young), however that shouldn't be the case with Taylor. As one of the more complete, well-rounded and underappreciated cornerback prospects in this entire draft, Taylor is a plug-and-play player who can start opposite Chris Houston from Day 1.
Round 3, Pick: 65: Cornelius Washington, DE, Georgia
Washington was misused at Georgia, but in the right alignment he should flourish. Detroit's "wide nine" scheme is ideal for a player with Washington's combination of size and natural athletic ability—something that Detroit's coaches tested and saw firsthand in this year's Senior Bowl game.
Round 5, Pick 137: Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State
The Lions brought back DeAndre Levy but let Justin Durant walk this offseason, opening up a need at one of the outside linebacker spots. Hodges is a converted safety with good range and overall coverage ability to match up with some of the bigger and more athletic tight ends and tailbacks who currently occupy the NFC North.
Round 6, Pick 171: Tavarres King, WR, Georgia
The second Bulldog to hear his name called by the Lions, King was just a young pup and mere freshman during Stafford's senior year in Athens. However, since that time, King has gone on to become one of the most decorated and productive players in program history and is easily one of the more crafty and natural route runners in this class.
Quite simply a smooth athlete who knows how to create separation and stretch the field, Kings offers tremendous value and is a natural fit in Detroit's high-powered offensive attack at this point in the draft.
Round 7, Pick 211: Wes Horton, DE, USC
Detroit lost both of its starting defensive ends from last season and has yet to re-sign Lawrence Jackson. Horton is a player who flashed at USC but never really put it all together, despite having a lot of the physical tools needed to be successful. Bringing him in here adds needed depth and another project for Lions defensive line coach Kris Kocurek to further develop.
Round 7, Pick 245: Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA
The Lions brought in three tight end prospects for pre-draft visits, according to MLive.com. Fauria was not one of those players, however the Lions do seem interested in bringing in another pass-catching tight end.
With NFL bloodlines and a huge catching radius, Fauria presents Stafford with another much needed red zone target and player who's hard to miss over the middle of the field.