NFC North: The Rookies That Will Have the Biggest Impact

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NFC North: The Rookies That Will Have the Biggest Impact
(Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Depending on the team you talk to, the 2009 NFL draft was either an exciting roller coaster (Green Bay Packers) or a desperate attempt to create a Super Bowl team (Minnesota Vikings).

It's no secret that there are definitely some missing pieces to each team, but the NFC has made its case to come out of the NFC East shadow.

The Packers added some extra boost to their defense by bringing in 3-4 guru Tom Capers to help ease the transaction to a linebacker-heavy defense.

BJ Raji, the Packers' first overall pick, will likely start at defensive end and the 26th overall selection, Clay Matthews will be the final linebacker of a strong bunch that includes underrated Nick Barnett and the high-flying AJ Hawk, both of whom are Pro Bowl worthy.

The Bears didn't do anything on day one, but day two had some great picks. Juaquin Iglesias out of Oklahoma was a second round prospect that conveniently landed in the hands of Jerry Angelo. He should bring some spark opposite of deep threat Devin Hester.

The Bears also got an incredible talent in DJ Moore, a cornerback out of Vanderbuilt who will puch Nathan Vasher back to his original form. If not, DJ Moore is more than ready to step up and make some big plays for lackluster defense.

The Lions needed help all over the field. They got their biggest weapon with their second pick in the draft, Brandon Pettigrew who looks to bring some immense talent to a position that has been void for the Lions offense for the better part of the last decade.

While Stafford was a great pickup, it's unlikely he'll start right out of the gate. With Daunte Culpepper supposedly in great shape and another year under the Lions' offense, Daunte can really bring dominant quarterback play.

The only thing stopping quarterbacks from becoming successful in Detroit is a terrible line which wasn't addressed in the draft until it was too late. The Lions selected Lydon Murtha with pick No. 228 out of Nebraska.

The Vikings, who have made it a priority to get rid of the "bad blood" on the team, acquired a guy with red flags surrounding his personality. At pick 22, the Vikings selected Percy Harvin, the receiver from Florida who tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine.

It was a very unusual pick considering that Michael Oher was still on the board, but the Vikings addressed their need at tackle selecting the big man from Oklahoma, Phil Loadholt, A 6'8'' and 340-pound monster. He should bring some great run-blocking skills that was absent last season at right tackle for the Vikings.

So, which players will have the biggest impact and which will take the yearly title of NFL Bust?

 

BJ Raji (Green Bay Packers): IMPACT PLAYER

The Packers got some real talent in Raji. While they had trouble deciding where they would put Raji, they decided that Pickett would fit great at nose tackle and Raji would be a disruptive force on the outside. Raji will make these Packer linebacker's even scarier than they were last season, that is when they were healthy.

Don't expect big numbers from Raji, but his impact will be felt throughout the entire defense. He doesn't get moved off the line very easy and will likely open some big holes for the linebackers. I don't think 35 tackles and three sacks are out of the question here.

 

Brandon Pettigrew (Detroit Lions): IMPACT PLAYER

Sure he goes to the woeful Lions, but he is a great blocker and by far the best receiving tight end in this year's class. He will bring stability to the Lions offense and will add another threat along with Calvin Johnson on the receiving end.

Pettigrew is the automatic number one tight end for the Lions, there's no question. Who is going to take the title away from him? It's not like the situation where Stafford is in. He won't start for a while, Pettigrew will. The starting tight end's numbers may resemble 58 catches for 733 yards and 4 touchdowns.

 

Percy Harvin (Minnesota Vikings): IMPACT PLAYER

While this was a controversial pick, the veteran locker room that the Vikings have won't put up with the 20-year old's tricks. The moment he does something stupid, expect the veteran's to make their presence known.

Harvin is a dual threat who will add some spark to a terrible passing offense. He also has the ability to run out of the backfield. I would be surprised if he doesn't start every game next season.

His 2009 will define who he is as an NFL player. Maybe he'll hit somewhere in the range of 48 catches for 690 yards and 5 touchdowns. He'll have some runs out of the backfield, but not many with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor.

 

Phil Loadholt (Minnesota Vikings): IMPACT PLAYER

The Vikings needed a right tackle and when Michael Oher was on the board at 22, it seemed to be a lock for many Vikings' fans, included this one. When they picked Percy Harvin instead, there was a very loud curse that came from my mouth. The more I thought about it though, the more I liked this pick.

Phil Loadholt is another Bryant McKinnie. I don't care what people say about him, he is a beast on the offensive line. McKinnie has moved defensive ends out of the way for years and Loadholt will do the same. His transition from left tackle to right tackle may be tough, but he should do alright.

Juaquin Iglesias (Chicago Bears): IMPACT PLAYER

He'll probably win the starting job opposite of Hester, but that's not saying much. He may have better numbers though. Juaquin would make an excellent slot receiver and will open up the field for Hester to run wild.

With a new quarterback at the helm, the receiving corps of the Chicago Bears may prove to a lot of people that they are underrated. Quarterbacks make receivers, not the other way around. Juaquin's stats may be in the range of 55 receptions for 549 yards. Along with his stats, he'll also help Hester become a true deep threat.

 

Louis Delmas (Detroit Lions): IMPACT PLAYER

The Lions needed help in the secondary. They brought in Anthony Henry from the Cowboys in the John Kitna trade and were looking to do more. Enter free safety Louis Delmas of Western Michigan. Louis is not well known, but he will make his presence known.

Louis is a hard hitting safety who thrives in the run game. He does very well man-to-man as well, but his true power comes at the line of scrimmage. He's a linebacker in a free safety's body.

Although this pick was very unexpected, the Lions needed the help. He put up great numbers in Michigan and I expect that to continue, somewhere in the range of 80 tackles and 4 interceptions.

 

Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions): BUST

He won't start for a while and will be watching a washed up quarterback who has struggled mightily since Randy Moss left his side. How that will help Stafford, I don't know. Stafford needs someone like Favre to watch. We all see how Rodgers flourished watching the NFL Icon.

When Stafford does get the chance, he'll have no offensive line to help him. He'll have to make quick decisions and Calvin Johnson's numbers will suffer. Stafford's confidence will drop along with his willingness to play for the Lions.

Let's hope he can pull off a huge turnaround and show the NFL that the Lions are not the same 0-16 team they were a year ago.

 

Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers): BUST

I believe the Packers made a big mistake trading so many picks to take a guy who started one year in college. He went to a system school and was part of a dominant linebacking corps there. He will be overshadowed by Hawk and Burnett, however.

I just don't see this guy as a true player in the NFL. He struggled to start at every level in football of his entire career. What makes that so different now? I think he would have been a great late second round or early third round pick, but a first-round selection?

He'll has a lot to prove. I can't see him getting more than 70 tackles and 2 sacks. He is not what the Packers are looking for.

 

Jarron Gilbert (Chicago Bears): BUST

The Bears first draft choice didn't come until day two. I was looking for the Bears to select a wide receiver, but there weren't any worth taking yet. Then I thought, maybe a strong defense end.

With Tommie Harris under-performing by the Bears' standards, they thought they'd grab someone to push him, so they drafted Gilbert, a defensive tackle from San Jose State.

It may just be me, but I don't think that Harris is all that terrible. He needs help around him and I don't think Gilbert fits that profile. They needed more help from the defensive end position.

While many Bears fans argue that they are set, they don't have a dominant pass rusher on the outside. I don't see Gilbert even starting his first year, let alone have any production whatsoever.

While they were many picks for the NFC North, these are the main guns. There may be some future Hall of Famers on this list and maybe even some drafted that weren't mentioned. However, the 2009 class in the NFC North could be a force to be reckoned with.

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