We're Black and Blue All Over:
Another sign of the Detroit Lions' progress? We have our first evidence of higher expectations for general manager Martin Mayhew as the 2011 draft approaches. In rebuilding the Lions, writes Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News, Mayhew has only accomplished "the easy part."
Wojnowski: Eventually, we'll learn to grade Mayhew on his own merits, not on the At-Least-He's-Not-as-Awful-as-Millen scale. On any scale, Mayhew and his scouting staff have done fine, as the Lions have risen from 0-16 to 2-14 to 6-10. But again, not to be flippant, that's the easy part. This is the hard part, when you're actually choosing with the masses. ... Mayhew, 45, has been with the franchise 10 years, but didn't get a chance to make an impact until now. He's part of the big five -- including [Jim] Schwartz, [Matthew] Stafford, [Ndamukong] Suh and [Calvin] Johnson -- that will determine if the Lions get back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Landing a "Monday Night Football" appearance was a nice little bauble, but they shouldn't crave nice little baubles anymore."
I'm sure Mayhew wouldn't have it any other way. The Lions are a better team than they were when he assumed control in 2008. But can they make the jump to "good" without the advantage of a top-10 draft position? That's a fair question to judge him on now.
Continuing around the NFC North:
If the Lions can draft offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, it would be a steal.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune researched all of the drafts administered by Bears personnel men Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell. Of the 28 first-round picks they've made, 15 have been linemen.
Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times: "There are three reasons why the Bears must beef up the interior part of their offensive line, and they are big reasons, indeed. Their names are Ndamukong Suh, B.J. Raji and Kevin Williams."
Bears nose tackle Anthony Adams wants to stay with the team, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
It's always worth checking out Bob McGinn's top 100 players of the draft in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wonders if the Green Bay Packers would be willing to draft Georgia defensive end/linebacker Justin Houston.
Pittsburgh receiver Jonathan Baldwin should be available at the Packers' No. 32 overall pick, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, but he isn't the type of player general manager Ted Thompson would typically draft.
The Minnesota Vikings have six or seven options for players they would like to take at No. 12 overall, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Don't look at Rick Spielman as a director of player personnel trying to improve his team through the draft. Instead, look at him as a doctor with limited resources trying to decide how best to treat a seriously injured patient."
Spielman said the Vikings "haven't even discussed" the possibility of acquiring quarterback Donovan McNabb, according to the Star Tribune.