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NFC North draft analysis: Round 7
By Nic St. Marie
Special to gzl-football.com

In preparing for this next set of articles, I realized two things. First, I would love it if someone made me a banner specifically as the NFC West writer. It could even be without my name in it, so it's usable and if I had time I'd put some into making my own. I used to do that sort of thing.

If someone is interested in helping me with that, I was trying to come up with some concepts that are a lot more focused on the teams in the NFC West than the GZL logo. But I haven't really sat down to think through anything too heavily.

The other is, I wanted to do the NFC North Analysis in reverse, starting from the later picks so that people get more interested in it as we go along, rather than less. And to make Kevin have to wait. I'm not committing to doing all the divisions, or even to doing any others after the NFC North. That's an insane number of picks. But to the Lions, Packers, and Vikings you can thank Mr. Laurensen for his request and comments made in the NFC West posts. I should have asked for more in return, but I had enough fun making my own divisions to try one more.

This analysis starts in the 7th round, with the Bears picking once, and the Lions picking three times. Now that the skew is updated the updated numbers will be used. Go to the player page to see his pre-skew numbers.

As with the West, I'm not doing the "best comparison(s)" feature on backup players. I'm guessing those will start in the 5th round, since there are probably some starters amongst those picks. Where the NFC West had sent a lot of their picks away, the North seems to be one that gained some of those picks, so there may be more total articles as less of them are combinable. Doing 8 combined 6th and 7th rounders gets too big for me, and makes it too hard to really get interested in them.

7.6 -
MLB Jacquez Sweeney 5'10" 231 lbs, 78 SPD, 64 STR, 72 AWR, 77 AGI, 79 ACC, 66 CTH, 68 JMP, 84 TAK, 84 INJ

Sweeney was much better pre-skew, the rare 7th rounder that could make a primary backup without hurting a team. A good skew could have made him a career backup, but now he's going to struggle to make any team. He still had good hands, awareness, and tackling. But now he resembles a young Tatupu without the ability to bulk up as much as Lofa did in his first three years.

I'll take this opportunity to dream the other way. If Sweeney went to 81 SPD, 69 STR, 70 CTH and 85 TAK, with his AWR already in the 70's he was going to be that diamond in the rough. This was definitely a real good lottery ticket that just didn't break the right way. Have to give Chicago props for seeing into a 5'10" MLB that the rest of the draft was passing on.

If the Bears keep him, he can play if they put him behind a couple of beefy DTs, but ultimately his weakness, lack of speed, and height will combine to make him the first target for replacement.

Grade: B-
Roster Prognosis: FA by preseason

7.11 -
LE Lavar Edwards 6'4" 277 lbs, 73 SPD, 73 STR, 62 AWR, 74 AGI, 78 ACC, 71 TAK, 93 INJ

Edwards is a rare 7th rounder who went up in speed but is still worse off. He already was pretty close to pancake better before but with more speed and strength could have approached a decently balanced DE, an ok backup. +2 in speed doesn't outweigh -2 STR, -3 AGI and none of his key attributes are over 80.

Ending up closer to 75 SPD, 79 STR, 80 AGI, 80 ACC is probably what the Lions were taking a shot at, which certainly could have happened.

Sweeney will move onto a career as a fitness trainer or a Division III DL coach.

Grade: C-
Roster Prognosis: FA by preseason, retired in a year or two.

7.23 -
SS Shelton Atkinson 5'11" 277 lbs, 86 SPD, 56 STR, 69 AWR, 83 AGI, 91 ACC, 68 CTH, 87 JMP, 61 TAK, 82 INJ

Keeping with the Lions speed value mirage, Atkinson is a 5'11", 86 SPD SS that gained no speed but became such a better athlete that he may stick. Atkinson was a pretty poor prospect, but has good skill development. His +4 STR, +2 AWR, +4 AGI, +2 ACC still doesn't make him a starter, but the Lions may feel comfortable with getting rid of a more expensive backup at one of the safety positions.

Safety depth is a pretty big deal, as they make a lot of tackles against HBs that CB's don't make, and get more wear and tear. Atkinson isn't the type of late round safety I usually find in the 6th that can be a 5 year backup, but right now in the salary cap squeeze this league has been living, he's not bad.

Shelton was an ok pick, with not a lot of options for better talent. If they cut him, he's just borderline enough he may find a job with someone for a year or two.

Grade: C+
Roster Prognosis: Backup SS for the Lions until 2017

7.23 -
C Champ Tucker 6'2" 305 lbs, 54 SPD, 89 STR, 56 AWR, 59 AGI, 60 ACC, 72 PBK, 77 RBK, 78 INJ

For perspective, 7th round picks are normally not going to make it into a roster for very long. So feeling sorry for the Lions for their 29th pick is more than a little silly. But check this out. -3 SPD, -1 STR, -3 AGI, -5 ACC, -3 PBK, -2 RBK. He gained 1 point in awareness, and otherwise bombed all of the important stats. The Lions scouting staff won't feel too embarrassed because again...7th round. But this guy is just not going to make it.

He actually was good enough to make it as the 2nd C for the Lions or another team for a while, but now only his ability to take a cheap salary will keep him in the league.

Grade: D+
Roster Prognosis: Nothing to see here

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