We're Black and Blue All Over:
Happy (first) Draft Day! We're getting a bit of a late start Thursday because this day isn't really going to end for about 60 hours or so, when the final pick of the 2012 draft is made late Saturday afternoon. It'll be a blur, but the best kind of blur, if you know what I mean. (And yes, Twitter followers, the overnight break did in fact include an unexpected but most appreciated viewing of "Weekend at Bernie's.")
You probably have guessed this, but my plan is to cover Thursday night's first round from the Minnesota Vikings' draft headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn. So there will be a Vikings focus Thursday night, but that should be expected when a team has the No. 3 overall pick (at least for now). Rest assured we will account for the first-round picks of all four NFC North teams in a substantive way before the evening is complete.
I'll have some final thoughts to post as we await the 8 p.m. ET first pick, but for now let's take a mid-morning spin around the division:
All things considered, a defensive end seems like the Chicago Bears' most likely target in the first round, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
We really don't know what we have yet in new Bears general manager Phil Emery, writes Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com.
Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times doesn't get the expectation of a defensive pick. Morrissey: "Was anybody paying attention last season when Jay Cutler was healthy? Did that look like a Super Bowl offense to you? Not once last season did I say to myself, 'If the Bears only had a defensive end to take the pressure off Julius Peppers, they'd win a championship!'"
In his mock draft, Pompei has the Bears taking Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus at No. 19 overall.
Mercilus goes to the Detroit Lions at No. 23 in the final mock draft of Detroit Free Press writer Dave Birkett.
The same goes for the mock draft of Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News makes a case for the Lions drafting North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: "But whomever [the Lions] draft over the next couple of days, they had better make sure that these picks don't embarrass the franchise as last year's class did with its recklessness -- with four accusations by police of marijuana possession."
The Green Bay Packers have no choice but to focus on their pass rush in this draft, writes Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
McGinn gives the Packers Boise State linebacker Shea McClellin with the No. 28 overall pick.
McClellin is the best fit for the Packers, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune gives the Vikings USC left tackle Matt Kalil at No. 3 in his mock draft.
The decision between Kalil and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne will be complicated, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
It's a much more simple choice for Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Powers thinks the obvious choice is Kalil and writes that general manager Rick Spielman's only decision is: "To be (an idiot) or not to be (an idiot), that is the question."
Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press would be surprised if the Vikings take Kalil.