NFC North draft focus on offensive line

Stats & Information gets you ready for the NFL Draft at the end of the month with a look at the biggest need for each team. Today, we start off with the NFC North.

Chicago Bears

Need: Offensive line

The Bears have allowed a sack once every 10.5 dropbacks over the last two seasons, most in the NFL. No other team allowed a sack at a rate lower than once every 12.0 dropbacks.

Fewest Dropbacks per Sack Allowed
Last 2 Seasons

They averaged 3.3 yards per rush up the middle last season, 30th in the NFL, with just two 20-yard rushes. When rushing to either side, the Bears averaged 5.0 yards per rush with 18 20-yard rushes.

Chicago drafted OT Gabe Carimi in the first round (29th overall) of the 2011 Draft.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Detroit Lions

Needs: Offensive line, secondary

LT Jeff Backus has played for 11 seasons, and the Lions didn’t re-sign Corey Hilliard, his primary backup last season.

The Lions had 14 rushing first downs outside the tackles (31st in the NFL) and were one of two teams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) without a rushing touchdown outside the tackles.

Defensively, Detroit allowed 59 percent of passes outside the numbers to be completed (fifth-worst in the league).

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Green Bay Packers

Need: Pass rush

The Packers sent five or more pass rushers on 46 percent of opponent dropbacks last season, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL and up from the 36 percent rate in Dom Capers’ first two seasons as defensive coordinator.

The Packers ramped up the blitz last season to overcompensate for a lack of pressure from a standard rush. After recording 30 sacks when rushing four or fewer in 2010 (second-most), the Packers picked up 11 sacks last season, the second-fewest in the NFL.

Erik Walden, Brad Jones and Frank Zombo combined for 5.0 sacks from the outside linebacker position last season, one fewer than Clay Matthews.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Nick Perry, LB, USC

McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Andre Branch, DE/LB, Clemson

Minnesota Vikings

Needs: Offensive line, secondary

Against five or more pass rushers the Vikings were either sacked, under duress or hit while throwing on 37 percent of dropbacks, fourth-highest in the NFL. Opposing defenses exploited that weakness, as no team faced extra pressure on more dropbacks than the Vikings.

Vikings Defense on Plays to WR
2011 Season

Matt Kalil is the consensus pick by Kiper and McShay, but boosting the secondary might be a more pressing need.

Minnesota allowed 17 touchdowns on throws of more than 10 air yards, the most in the league, and ranked last defending against wide receivers.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Matt Kalil, OT, USC