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Draft Trends: NFC North

The defending champs have laid out an impressive blueprint. Joe Fortenbaugh

April 26, 2011
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The National Football Post’s Draft Trends series resumes Tuesday with an in-depth look at the NFC North.

Note: This is a team-by-team study based on NFL draft results from 2001-2010.

Note 2: All positions are courtesy of NFL.com.

CHICAGO BEARS (11-5, first in NFC North)

Head Coach: Lovie Smith (eighth season)
2011 Draft Picks: 6 (1.29, 2.30, 3.29, 4.30, 5.29, 6.30)
Total Selections Since 2001: 83 (40 on offense, 43 on defense)

Despite employing a relatively balanced approach with their last 83 draft picks (48.2% on offense, 51.8% on defense), the Bears have spent six of their last eight first round selections on offensive players (75% on offense, 25% on defense).

Take note that four of those aforementioned offensive players (Benson, Grossman, Colombo and Terrell) are no longer on the roster.

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When it comes to examining the draft as a whole, Chicago has spent 20.1% of their draft picks since 2001 on defensive linemen, while using only 15.7% of their selections on offensive linemen.

Here’s how the Bears’ selections break down by position since 2001:

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NOTEWORTHY

1. The Bears have selected at least one defensive end in nine of the last ten drafts.

Julius PeppersICONPro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers was acquired via free agency.

2. Five of the seven (71.4%) defensive tackles selected by the Bears since 2001 were drafted within the top 100 picks. Take note that since 2001, only 43.3% of the defensive tackles drafted by NFL teams have been taken within the top 100 picks.

3. Since 2001, the Bears have only drafted three offensive linemen within the top 100 picks.

4. Over the last five years, the Bears have only drafted two wide receivers prior to the fifth round.

5. Since 2001, the Bears have only drafted two linebackers prior to the fourth round.

GREEN BAY PACKERS (10-6, second in NFC North)

Head Coach: Mike McCarthy (sixth season)
2011 Draft Picks: 9 (1.32, 2.32, 3.32, 4.32, 4.34, 5.32, 6.32, 7.1, 7.30)
Total Selections Since 2001: 85 (43 on offense, 40 on defense, 2 on special teams)

The Green Bay front office deserves a lot of credit for the first round talent they have acquired over the last ten years. Sure, there have been some misses, but several of the following names played an integral role in last season’s Super Bowl run.

Take note that seven of the Packers’ last ten first round picks have been spent on the defensive side of the football.

”First

With 85 total picks made over the last ten years, it’s clear that the Packers believe in building through the draft. The team has spent 14.6% of their selections on wide receivers, which may have something to do with why Green Bay has ranked eighth or better in pass offense in each of the last seven years.

Here’s how the Packers’ selections break down by position since 2001:

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NOTEWORTHY

1. From 2001-2008, the Packers had a combined 16 first and second round picks. 31.3% of those selections were spent on wide receivers.

Clay Matthews & Aaron RodgersThese two draft picks worked out pretty well, wouldn't you say?

2. Since 2001, the Packers have selected just as many punters (1) within the top 100 picks as they have running backs.

3. Only 18.8% (3 of 16) of the offensive linemen drafted by the Packers since 2001 have been taken within the top 100 picks. Take note that since 2001, 35% of all offensive linemen drafted by NFL teams were selected within the top 100 picks.

4. The Packers have drafted at least one defensive back within the first three rounds in seven of the last ten years.

5. The Packers have drafted at least one defensive lineman within the first two rounds in three of the last four years.

DETROIT LIONS (6-10, third in NFC North)

Head Coach: Jim Schwartz (third season)
2011 Draft Picks: 6 (1.13, 2.12, 3.11, 4.10, 5.23, 7.2)
Total Selections Since 2001: 78 (39 on offense, 39 on defense)

We still have the NFC South and NFC West left to complete in our 2011 Draft Trends series, but to date, we have found no team that has made more first round picks since 2001 than the Detroit Lions. What’s even more interesting is that this organization has spent 11 of those 13 selections of offensive players, with eight being dedicated to the skill positions (QB, RB, WR).

Of the two defensive players the Lions did draft in the first round, one (Ernie Sims, Matt Millen era) is no longer with the team while the other (Ndamukong Suh, Jim Schwartz era) was named the 2010 NFL defensive rookie of the year.

”First

The Lions have demonstrated balance in their drafting over the last ten years, with exactly 39 picks being spent on offensive players and 39 selections going towards defensive players. However, for a team that has struggled offensively, Detroit has used 19 of their last 78 picks (24.4%) on running backs and wide receivers.

Here’s how the Lions’ selections break down by position since 2001:

”First

NOTEWORTHY

1. Over the last nine years, the Lions have drafted a wide receiver in the first round four times. However, during that same time span, Detroit has drafted just ONE offensive lineman prior to the fourth round.

Jim SchwartzICONHead coach Jim Schwartz is still working to clean up Matt Millen's mess.

2. 55.5% of the running backs drafted by the Lions since 2001 have been taken within the top 100 picks. The league-wide average for running backs taken within the top 100 picks during that same time span is 38.2%.

3. Since 2001, the Lions have drafted three quarterbacks (Harrington, Stanton, Stafford) within the first two rounds. To date, those three signal-callers have a combined record of 23-49 as the starting quarterback for the Lions. That’s a winning percentage of just .319.

4. Brandon Pettigrew (2009) is the only tight end taken prior to the fifth round by the Lions since 2001.

5. The Lions have selected at least one linebacker in seven of the last eight drafts. In addition, 41.6% of the linebackers drafted by Detroit since 2001 have been taken within the top 100 picks. That is right on par with the rest of the NFL, as the league-wide average is 40.9%.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-10, fourth in NFC North)

Head Coach: Leslie Frazier (first season)
2011 Draft Picks: 9 (1.12, 2.11, 4.9, 5.8, 5.19, 6.7, 6.35, 7.12, 7.33)
Total Selections Since 2001: 69 (31 on offense, 37 on defense, 1 on special teams)

The Vikings may not have had an abundance of draft picks over the past ten years, but they’ve done a decent job of getting a solid return on their first round investments. Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Kevin Williams and Bryant McKinnie have all qualified for at least one Pro Bowl while Chad Greenway has put up Pro Bowl-worthy numbers on more than one occasion.

However, like most NFL teams, the Vikings have also had their misses. (Cough, Troy Williamson, cough).

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For the last ten years in Minnesota, a heavy emphasis has been placed on wide receivers and linebackers, as those two positions have constituted 28.9% of the Vikings’ total draft picks.

Here’s how the Vikings’ selections break down by position since 2001:

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NOTEWORTHY

1. Over the last ten years, the Vikings have not made more than eight (8) picks in any single draft. The Bears, Packers and Lions have all had at least four drafts during that same time span in which they made nine or more selections.

Adrian PetersonICONA.P. is one of several solid first round picks made by the Vikings since 2001.

2. The Vikings have taken at least one defensive back within the first three rounds in each of the last six drafts.

3. Over the last four years, the Vikings have only drafted one offensive lineman prior to the fifth round. Keep in mind that this organization has only selected one offensive lineman in the first round since 1997 (Bryant McKinnie, 2002).

4. The Vikings have alternated drafting defensive and offensive players with their first pick for the last seven years. If that trend holds true, look for Minnesota to take an offensive player with their first selection this Thursday, since they took a defensive player with their first pick last year (Chris Cook, second round).

5. Daunte Culpepper (1999) and Tarvaris Jackson (2006) are the only quarterbacks the Vikings have drafted prior to the fifth round since 1995 (Chad May, fourth round).

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CLICK HERE to check out the NFC East

CLICK HERE to check out the AFC South

CLICK HERE to check out the AFC West

CLICK HERE to check out the AFC East

CLICK HERE to check out Part I of the AFC North.

CLICK HERE to check out Part II of the AFC North.

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