Oct 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) rushes against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Packers win 44-31. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
The Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and Minnesota Vikings upgraded this offseason, but where does each team rank in the NFC North?
Over the weekend, SideLion Report will be releasing it’s NFC North Ranking’s for the 2014 season. We will conclude the series with our projected NFC North champions the Green Bay Packers. Joining the debate will be Raymond Rivard, editor at Lombardi Ave. Ray will also give us a closer look at the Packers undrafted free agents class and tell us who he thinks can make an impact from day one.
Last Year’s SideLion Report Offseason Rank: 1st
Last Year’s Finish: 1st
2014 Draft Class:
HaHa Clinton-Dix, first round
Davante Adams, WR, second round
Khri Thornton, DT, third round
Richard Rodgers, TE, third round
Carl Bradfrod, OLB, fourth round
Corey Linsley, C, fifth round
Jared Abbrederis, fifth round
Demetri Goodson, CB, sixth round
Jeff Janis, WR, seventh round
Key Additions: Julius Peppers, DE; Letroy Guion, DT
Key Departures: Evan Dietrich-Smith, C; James Jones, WR; Jermichael Finley, TE; Ryan Pickett, DT; M.D. Jennings
Undrafted Free Agents That Will Make An Impact Via Ray Rivard of Lombardi Ave:
"A few of the more interesting signings were Alabama outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard, Tennessee running back Rajion Neal, Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins, and Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig. Though one might wonder why the Packers are picking up running backs considering they have Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris, and Johnathan Franklin already in house, the Packers like to increase production through competition. And why did the Packers pick up a free agent quarterback with Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, and Scott Tolzien already inked to contracts? Well, head coach Mike McCarthy said prior to the draft that he would like four quarterbacks on his roster heading into training camp and that’s what Thompson gave him."
Green Bay Packers Analysis:
One thing you can expect from the Packers is that they are going to draft well and they certainly did that in 2014. The Packers look to have found contributors or starters in the first five rounds from Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix down to Jared Abbrederis, who looks like another Wes Welker type of player. The Packers receive my first overall ranking, because the losses they had in free agency look to be solidified, they have proven to be the most consistent team in the NFC North, and they also have the best quarterback in the division.
Don’t get me wrong, the race for first place is far from decided, in fact, it might be the closest race we’ve had yet (and last season the division was decided in the final week). The Lions might be the most talented team in the division, but they are unpredictable and often get in their own way. If the new regime in Detroit gets Matthew Stafford to the next level and the team plays smart football watch out. The same could be said about the Bears and Jay Cutler. For now though, the Packers are the top team in the NFC North heading into 2014.
Ray Rivard, Lombardi Ave:
"“The Green Bay Packers don’t rebuild, they reload – and that’s exactly the sentiment most are feeling following the 2014 NFL Draft. The team addressed some needs, such as safety, offensive line, and wide receiver, and they appear to have brought in players that could have an immediate impact.While the selection of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix solidified the Packers’ biggest need at safety, general manager Ted Thompson’s best selection of the 2014 Draft came in the second round where they tabbed Davante Adams, the Fresno State wide receiver who has a huge upside. And though the Packers did address most of the team needs in this most recent draft, they did not address inside linebacker – a position many feel is the thinnest outside of safety. Clearly, Thompson feels the team will be just fine without the addition of a draft pick at that position."
"All in all, Packers fans are pleased with this most recent draft class. And that’s a good thing because the entire NFC North got much stronger this offseason. Bringing in free agents strengthened all of the teams in the division, while the draft only solidified every roster.The jury is still out on how all of these changes will alter things on the field, but one thing is for sure – the NFC North will be one of the strongest in the NFC, if not all of football.”"
For more from Ray Rivard check him out at lombardiave.com