NFC North Season Preview
By: Luke Fontaine
Good Free Men Staff Writer:
Green Bay Packers
So much so, that they drafted defensive backs with their first 2 picks hoping at least one of them hits.
Jaire Alexander had an outstanding year at Louisville and his performance at the NFL Combine rose his stock significantly.
On the other hand, Josh Jackson who was thought to be a Top 10 draft pick last winter, vying with Denzel Ward for that top CB spot. Had his draft stock drop significantly after a poor NFL combine, creating a potential steal for the Packers in the 2nd round.
If just one of these defensive backs, becomes a "Jalen Ramsey" or "Marshon Lattimore" the Packers significantly improve their team. Who at the moment, any sort of success, rely solely on the shoulders of Aaron Rodgers.
The Minnesota Vikings players to watch would be Dalvin Cook returning from an ACL injury, he had a fantastic start to his rookie campaign before going down with his injury.
He was likely to achieve the 1,000 yard running mark in his first year as a rookie before going down 4 games into the season.
Beyond that, we also want to keep an eye on Kirk Cousins, the primary piece that Minnesota hopefuls' believe will carry them from NFC Championship to a Superbowl appearance.
Kirk Cousins has shown he can be consistenct, but with amazing offensive weapons in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs lighting it up. Kirk's stock should spike drastically, considering his top weapons in Washington were Jamison Crowder and Vernon Davis.
With a well-balanced offense and one of the best defenses in the league, it shouldn't take much for Kirk Cousins to be holding the Lombardi Trophy next February.
The Chicago Bears should be excited about Mitch Trubisky. A player who receives a lot of flack for not throwing it much last season. But out with the old and in with the new, he goes from having a run-heavy coach, to a coach who lead one of the best, if not the best offense' in the league last year.
Watching what Trubisky accomplished last season was actually quite impressive, considering his top WR Kendall Wright, probably won't make the Vikings roster in which he's currently auditioning. His other WR Dontrelle Inman is currently a free agent and Josh Bellamy is hoping to take what would be the Bears 6th WR spot, relying on his ability at Special Teams to give him an edge.
Trubisky undoubtedly had one of the worst WR corps in the league, but the Bears were sure to address this issue, turning the squad into arguably a top 10 WR unit in the league.
Credit to GM Ryan Pace for seeing a need and filling it with the best talent available. Along with that squad, comes rookie Anthony Miller. Who's only real concern coming into the draft was concentration drops, but he's proved in Bears camp that drops are no longer a problem.
Miller often beats the Bears secondary who only allowed one 100-yard WR last season in Antonio Brown. Whereas Anthony Miller gets separation and big athletic catches regularly. I wouldn't be shocked in the slightest if he's the teams top WR and pushing for an Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year award.
For Lions fans it may come as no surprise that the player to watch is rookie RB Kerryon Johnson. He's been consistently breaking off big plays in training camp. In game 1 of the pre-season, he did a little bit of everything, 7 rushes for 34 yards which could have easily been 8 rushes for 100-yards, if it weren't for a holding penalty that erased a 60-yard run.
Johnson also caught 4 passes for 34 yards, showing that the 2nd round pick could easily be this years Kareem Hunt. The kid can do everything at running back which is great considering the running game in Detroit has been stalled for awhile.
Another player to watch will be newly acquired OLB Christian Jones. Jones came from the Chicago Bears, where he was a filler for the suspended and injured, Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. But very quickly, he turned from serviceable starter, to a starter you wanted on the field regularly.
In his first start, he was calling plays for the Bears top 10 defense and progressed game-by-game. By the end of the season, he was the Bears leading tackler.
Now, being moved to OLB, he should be a reliable starter for the Lions. He has less of a load to carry on the edge, which I believe could take him towards a +7 sack season. He will also contribute well on special teams.