There was a time when the NFC North evoked images of angry, fat and ugly brutes. Defense was paramount. Pain was the game. Passing? Please—leave that to the fairies.
The NFL game has made drastic changes over the last three decades, but that evolution is most noticeable in the NFC North.
Chicago, Green Bay and Detroit are all capable of eclipsing the 4,500-yard passing mark in 2012. Conversely, last year left much to be desired in the way of defense. The Packers, Lions, Vikings and Bears ranked No. 32, No. 23, No. 21, and No. 17 respectively in total defense.
When the four teams took to the draft to tackle this discrepancy, some seemed to place a focus on acquiring defensive talent while others, perhaps surrendering to the new age, worked to add more offensive weapons. Of course, there are more than just rookies who will be looking for breakthrough campaigns in 2012. Two and three-year pros will need to elevate their games to contend for the title in a highly talented division.
Here are 10 players that hope to become the next generation of NFC North stars.
Note: All combine and pre-draft measurements obtained from www.nfl.com/draft