The NFC North is filled with talent and potential, just look at the Detroit Lions’ success last year. The Packers and Lions should be in contention for the playoffs like last year, and the Vikings and Bears should certainly see improvement. However, they will need help especially in areas that have the ability to get stronger this upcoming NFL season.
Take a look below at some of the players that can be of utmost importance to their teams:
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Free Safety,
Green Bay Packers (1st place, 12-4)
The standout safety from Alabama played well last year after taking the starting role for the Packers around the midway point of the season. Thus, with 10 starts under his belt, including a couple in the playoffs, he undoubtedly has the experience and skills to jump to an even better level of play. He only recorded one interception during the regular season, but he flashed signs of progress there with two picks in the NFC Championship Game. His second year will certainly be better and that should help out the Packers' already lauded defense.
Another player to watch: wide receiver Davante Adams
Darius Slay, Cornerback,
Lions (2nd place, 11-5)
After making significant progress from his rookie year to last year, Slay looks to continue on the upward trend on a team that was middle of the pack in pass defense. He helped shut down top quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Tony Romo last season, showing great improvement along the way The Lions will need him to take one more step, where he can define himself as one of the league’s top, young cornerbacks. He had a couple off games, but if he can be consistent on any given Sunday, then he will help the Lions in massive ways.
Another player to watch: linebacker Kyle Van Noy
Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback,
Minnesota Vikings (3rd place, 7-9)
The Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year made his way to the starting role after Matt Cassel broke his foot early in the season, and he remained in it throughout the remainder of the year. He played well enough to put his team in position to win, with several one-score losses during the season. His legs provide him speed to move around the pocket and scramble if needed, which is a plus. However, his 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions can surely be improved, and having Adrian Peterson in the backfield can only help.
Another player to watch: linebacker Anthony Barr
Matt Slauson, Left Guard,
Chicago Bears (4th place, 5-11)
Although entering his seventh year in the league, Slauson can make a strong impact for the Bears, after missing most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle. Jay Cutler, who is known for getting pressured and sacked a lot, needs more help from his offensive line in order to thrive. Thus, if Slauson can stay healthy, he will be an important factor for the Bears’ offensive production. He looks to be a leader along the line that also boasts two-time Pro Bowler Kyle Long.
Another player to watch: defensive end Ego Ferguson