We’re finally less than three weeks away from the real start of Training Camp for the Minnesota Vikings (and 31 teams that don’t matter nearly as much). We know that the Vikings are awfully talented, but there’s plenty of talent around the rest of the NFC North, too. With that, for the first time. . .at least, I think it’s the first time. . .I thought I’d put together an all-NFC North team.
On offense, with respect to C.J. Ham and a few others, I’m eschewing the fullback position and instead going with a three-wide receiver set, since that’s what we see more and more of in the NFL today. So, let’s get underway.
Quarterback - Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Yes, I know, I know. . .I dislike the guy every bit as much as any good, decent Viking fan worth their salt should. However, it’s pretty difficult to deny the guy’s talent, and the Packers have been relevant for most of the last few years due simply to the fact that this guy exists. He’s pretty obviously the pick here. Perhaps one day, maybe even during our lifetimes, Packers fans will know the agony of bad quarterback play for longer than half a season. But not this year, I’m afraid.
Running back - Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
I think that if we revisit this sort of thing a year from now that Dalvin Cook would be the choice here. But, with him coming off of an injury, I can’t put him here now, and it would be pretty foolish to ignore Howard. He’s really turned into one of the league’s better running backs, and he seems to terrorize the Vikings every time the Vikings and Bears get together. The Bears having been pretty bad the past couple of seasons has really limited the amount of respect he gets, but if their offense takes a step forward this year, that’s going to change.
Wide receiver - Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
DID YOU KNOW THAT ADAM THIELEN WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL IN DETROIT LAKES AND GOT A $500 SCHOLARSHIP TO WHERE THE VIKINGS HELD TRAINING CAMP AND IS NOW ONE OF THE NFL’S BEST RECEIVERS!? Oh, you did know that. But, honestly, what can you say about Thielen that hasn’t already been said? His ascent has been a thing of beauty, and I wouldn’t expect him to slow down any time soon.
Wide receiver - Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Golden Tate gets a lot of the recognition given to the Lions’ receiving corps, but Jones is the best receiver on that team. He was huge for the Lions in last year’s Thanksgiving game against the Vikings, and has really developed nicely for Detroit in his two seasons since coming over from Cincinnati.
Wide receiver - Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
For his first couple of seasons in Green Bay, Adams was. . .well, not great. However, he’s exploded over the past two seasons, catching double-digit touchdowns in each. That includes 10 touchdown catches in 2017 when the Packers had the Brett Hundley Dumpster Fire Experience at quarterback for most of the season. That, by itself, is pretty impressive.
Tight end - Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
I get that Green Bay signed Jimmy Graham and everything, and that Graham was pretty impressive last year. However, Rudolph has been consistently solid over the past few seasons and figures to get even more looks with Kirk Cousins at quarterback. As we’ve said in the past, the only tight end with more touchdown receptions than Rudolph over the last three years is that Gronkowski fellow in New England, which isn’t bad company to be keeping.
Left tackle - David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers
Bakhtiari isn’t just the best left tackle in the NFC North. . .by a significant margin. . .he’s one of the best in the entire NFL. He’s the most obvious choice on the offensive line for this squad.
Left guard - Kyle Long, Chicago Bears
Long has had some injury struggles over the past couple of seasons, but he does have Pro Bowl pedigree. Plus, I honestly don’t know who else to put here.
Center - Cody Whitehair, Chicago Bears
Whitehair stepped in as the Bears’ starting center at the start of his rookie season, and has been very impressive for Chicago at that spot over the last two seasons.
Right guard - T.J. Lang, Detroit Lions
Lang was a pretty solid investment for the Lions at guard last season, getting named to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year (first with Detroit).
Right tackle - Ricky Wagner, Detroit Lions
Wagner, like Lang, came to Detroit in free agency last season, and had a pretty solid season for Detroit as well.
So, how does the team break down offensively? Well. . .I’m guessing that some folks aren’t going to be too thrilled, even though things are pretty evenly distributed.
- Chicago - 3 (Howard, Long, Whitehair)
- Detroit - 3 (Jones, Lang, Wagner)
- Green Bay - 3 (Rodgers, Adams, Bakhtiari)
- Minnesota - 2 (Thielen, Rudolph)
Next we’ll do the defensive side of the ball, where I’ll make a concerted effort to not just list all 11 members of the Vikings’ starting defense (although I probably could).