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2012 draft redux -- another look around the NFC North

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2012 draft redux -- another look around the NFC North

Grading drafts is never an exact science until a couple years after its conclusion. But it still is fun to pull the camera back just a bit after a month when some OTAs have elapsed and have another look, since these hold the futures of teams.

Mel Kipers 2012 Draft Review just arrived, which is a concise and entertaining look at team-by-team selections, analysis, the round-by-round overall, and a few other nuggets relative to the picks and their teams.

The Bears still get the lowest of the grades in the NFC North, a C based pretty much on the absence of any offensive line help anywhere in the draft. Mel isnt high on late picks Isaiah Frey or Greg McCoy but the Bears already added cornerback help with veterans Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite.

The first four picks, however, do rate fairly high on Mels scales, which is interesting because the other three NFC North teams receive B grades despite some real questions that warrant watching in the next season or two:

Detroit Lions

The Lions picked Iowa tackle Riley Reiff No. 1 as a projected successor to Jeff Backus at left tackle. Reiffs stock dropped precipitously leading up to the draft, in part because the evaluations were that Reiff is more a right tackle. That shouldnt be quickly dismissed, because the Bears made a minor miscalculation that direction with Marc Colombo and Chris Williams (assuming the latter doesnt re-emerge as a left tackle this year). Not bad picks, just not ones that solved a major franchise problem.

But Detroit also used its No. 2 pick on Oklahoma wideout Ryan Broyles, whose 2011 season ended with a torn ACL. Images of Marc Bradley come to mind.

Mels key conclusion here is that the Lions didnt come away from the draft with much in the way of immediate contributors. That translates into a potential draft whiff if none of Detroits last six picks, all on defense, create a major splash above their draft slot.

Green Bay Packers

The need area for the Packers was defense and the first six picks went to that side of the ball. The top two USC rush linebacker Nick Perry, Michigan State tackle Jerel Worthy get right to the point of winning up front.

Perry vs. Reiff may not happen every play twice a year, but it could provide a clear winner in the 12 draft, Green Bay or Detroit.

Minnesota Vikings

The simple reason for a B grade here is that the Vikings traded down high in the first round and still got exactly the player they wanted in USC tackle Matt Kalil. And a bad secondary got two additions from Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith late in round one, safety Robert Blanton who project as upgrades, and having former Bears DB Leslie Frazier as a head coach wont hurt.

All of it is still some months away from really meaning a lot. But drafts are worth monitoring, and Mel even gets next years started with some thumbnails of players to watch for the 2013 draft.

(Copies of the Draft Review can be ordered through Mel Kiper Enterprises at 800-696-4558)

Oilers, Blackhawks' play-in round opponent, release training camp roster

Oilers, Blackhawks' play-in round opponent, release training camp roster

Sunday afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers released their Phase 3 training camp roster. Training camps begin on Monday for teams competing in the NHL's 24-team playoffs under the league's Return To Play program. 

The Blackhawks, who were at No. 12 in the Western Conference at the time of the NHL pause on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will face the No. 5 Oilers starting Aug. 1 at Edmonton in a best-of-five qualifying round. 

Related: Oiler's Mike Green opts out of NHL's Return To Play program

Edmonton invited 33 players to attend their Return To Play camp.

Forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl headline the team's roster. Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith are among the five goalies listed.

Western Conference teams will head to Edmonton's ICE District hub to prepare for the postseason tournament on July 26.

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Trey Lance to the Bears? This 2021 mock draft thinks so

Trey Lance to the Bears? This 2021 mock draft thinks so

Barring some kind of career-year from Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles, the 2021 NFL Draft will likely center around quarterback for the Chicago Bears. And while that's not necessarily good news for Bears fans, it could be worse. Next year's draft class will have a handful of quality quarterbacks with first-round grades.

In the latest mock draft from The Draft Wire, the Bears spend their first-round pick on North Dakota State darling, Trey Lance. The FCS standout is the apple of Draft Twitter's eye during the first wave of summer scouting, with some respected draft analysts like The Athletic's Dane Brugler ranking him ahead of Ohio State star, Justin Fields.

The Bears use the 12th overall pick in this mock on Lance. By the time April rolls around, and assuming Lance stacks another productive season on top of his remarkable 2019 performance, it's unlikely he'll be around outside the top 10.

Lance threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and a remarkable ZERO interceptions in his first full season starting for the Bison. But that's not all; he ran for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns, too.

At an estimated 6-3 and 224 pounds, Lance checks all the early boxes for a franchise quarterback prospect. If he does end up leapfrogging Fields for QB2, he'll be a top-five pick.

But here's the catch: we just don't know enough about him yet. His 2019 season was fantastic, but it's the only one he has on film. And it was against FCS competition, which makes his projection to the NFL more difficult. It's a slippery slope to use Carson Wentz as an example to support Lance's ability to make the jump to the pros. Players like Wentz are the exception; they're few and far between.

It's only July, and the mock draft landscape will change multiple times between now and April. But if Trubisky and Foles fail to deliver in 2020, all mock drafts will have the Bears picking a quarterback. The only question is how high will the Bears be picking in Round 1, and which quarterback (if any) falls to their selection.