Detroit Lions: Stealing one player from every NFC North foe

Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

What if the Detroit Lions could fill the voids on their roster with other NFC North stars?

From the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Marvel Comics had a series titled What If, which is now being developed as an animated series for the streaming platform, Disney+. The comics were a chance to explore storylines if different choices were made at key moments in the Marvel universe. But what if we could apply that same model to the Detroit Lions?

If we could steal one player from each of the Lions’ foes in the NFC North, and considering the current state of the roster, which three players would we choose and why? As another helpful guide on this quick ride of what-ifs, we’ll limit our choices to only players we believe could benefit Detroit the most right now, not necessarily the most overall talented player.

For example, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is considered by many to be the top passer in the entire division. But since the Lions already have Matthew Stafford under center, adding a different Packer player would make more sense to address a bigger need on the roster elsewhere. With that established, let’s begin …

Here are the three NFC North players we’d love to see become Detroit Lions

Bears – Khalil Mack, LB

This was an easy choice. The Chicago Bears landed themselves a new Monster of the Midway in 2018 when they traded four draft picks, including two first-rounders, to the Oakland Raiders for linebacker Khalil Mack.

Mack has recorded 21.0 sacks over his first two seasons in the Windy City. And pass rush is an area where Detroit has struggled, posting just 28 total sacks all of last season. When you consider the Lions parted ways with their co-sack leader from 2019 in linebacker Devon Kennard this offseason, the Motor City could really use an elite pass rusher like Mack.

Packers – David Bakhtiari, OT

There are plenty of names to choose from the Green Bay Packers’ roster. From their future Hall of Fame quarterback to wide receiver Davante Adams, edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, and defensive tackle Kenny Clark. But ultimately, we went with two-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle David Bakhtiari.

The Lions replaced the entire right side of their offensive line this offseason, parting ways with right tackle Rick Wagner and right guard Graham Glasgow. Detroit signed the unproven Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a massive five-year, $50 million deal, presumably to fill the void by Wagner. Yet, adding the 28-year old Bakhtiari to the roster would better secure the position with a proven lineman.

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Vikings – Dalvin Cook, RB

Again, there were plenty of candidates to consider with the Minnesota Vikings. Names like defensive end Danielle Hunter, wide receiver Adam Thielen, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and linebacker Eric Kendricks.

But it came down to two players: Safety Harrison Smith or running back Dalvin Cook. Combining a five-time Pro Bowler in Smith and Lions’ safety Tracy Walker would make for a stellar defensive combo in the secondary. On the other hand, Cook is coming off his first 1,000-yard season for the Vikings posting an incredible 13 rushing touchdowns.

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Weighing the importance of the two positions, safety versus running back, and then considering the injury history of third-year running back Kerryon Johnson, it was determined Dalvin Cook would be a more valuable piece than Harrison Smith for the current Detroit Lions. But it was very close.