The first day of Free Agency is complete and we know the NFC North will be much different. The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions were very aggressive on Day One in desperate hope of turning their fortunes around.
Detroit struck first quickly signing WR Nate Burleson to compliment their #1 WR Calvin Johnson. While Burleson isn't an elite WR, he is still decent and he does improve Detroit's WR corp. Perhaps Detroit's biggest move was signing former Pro Bowl DE Kyle Vandenbosch. While Vandenbosch has been rather inconsistent over the years and is coming off a dissapointing season, one thing that he does bring to Detroit is a motor. He is the kind of player that never gives up on a play and is always attacking. With that said, he does have a flaw. One thing Vandenbosch does on a consistent basis is he lines up at a good distance away from his DT and far outside of the OT. He loves to do this to better utilize his speed rush and get around the OT. While this has proven to be an effective method in pressuring the QB, it puts the defense in a bad situation in defending the run. If the OLB playing on his side is out of place in this situation, it can result in a long run for the opposing team's offense. Last but not least, Detroit traded for a player us Packer fans are all familiar with...Corey Williams. A once rising star in Green Bay was traded after the 2007 season for a 2nd Round draft pick. While in Cleveland, he fell off the map as he couldn't adapt to the 3-4 scheme. With him in Detroit, Williams will have a chance to resurect his career in the 4-3 defense. The question is will he regain his old form and play with intensity as he did in Green Bay or did he lose his edge and swagger? Prediction for the draft: Considering the upcoming draft has a deep class of DT's, I see Detroit drafting OT Russell Okung from Oklahoma State to anchor the left side of their line and protect their franchise QB in Matt Stafford. In the 2nd Round, I see Detroit going after a DT such as Dan Williams.
In case you have been living under a rock, I'll be the first to let you know that Chicago wasted no time in making a big splash and signed both DE Julius Peppers and HB Chester Taylor. As you may have suspected before free agency began, Julius Peppers was going to get a lucrative deal. A lucrative deal is what Chicago gave him, signing Peppers to a 6 year $70 Million contract. He upgrades the Bears defensive line immediately and his ability to play both LE and RE makes this deal scary for the Packers. With this deal, the Bears now have the best DE in the NFC North. Considering the Packers ongoing issues at the OT position, this is not a good sign for Green Bay. One positive aspect to this is the fact that Chicago is stuck paying enormous cash towards a DE that performs in some games, but quits in others. Hopefully in the games against Green Bay he chooses not to show up. Chester Taylor was also signed and he will compete with Matt Forte for the starting HB position. Even if he doesn't beat Forte he gives Chicago a solid 1-2 punch in the running game. However, Chicago's offensive line is still a train wreck, so this signing doesn't worry me too much. Precition for the draft: Chicago's first draft pick is in the 3rd round, so don't expect anything.
So how does this affect the Packers and the Packers plan in the offseason? I just heard Chad Clifton was resigned for a couple more years, so we know what we are getting from our LT. Although I am not a fan of Clifton as he is not the same player he once was, we know what we are getting out of him. We do after all need solid play out of our LT if we are to challenge for the NFC North title. Considering Peppers can play both LE and RE, we need to make sure our RT position is set as well. Do we resign Tauscher and rotate him with Lang again or let Lang have the job? I said it once and I'll say it again, I am not one that drafts for needs. I prefer to draft the best available player and that's what I hope TT and McCarthy do. I think we can get quality OT's in the 2nd round though. With all this occuring in Day 1 though, what do you want Green Bay to do to improve not just for next season, but for the long term as well? The only free agent sI think I'd consider would be Aaron Kampman and Lito Sheppard, but I honestly would prefer to just resign our current players, including unrestricted free agent Kampman, and build through the draft.