There's the All-Pro selections, then the Pro-Bowl selections, and now, it's the NFC North division selections.
People on this list didn't necessarily have to play in the NFC North last season, just that they are part of a team in the division right now.
Here's the final list of players who make the NFC North's version of the All-Pro selections, their 2008 stats, and their projected 2009 stats!
2008 stats: 4,038 yards, 28 TD, 13 INT, 341-536 63.6% completions
Projected 2009: 3,648 yards, 25 TD, 14 INT, 311-501 62.1% completions
Aaron is an up-and-coming quarterback in the NFL. Though many Packer fans may blame Rodgers for a loss or two last season, he was more productive than quarterbacks like Eli Manning and Donovan McNabb last season.
Expect him to have another great season, but maybe less so productive. People are going to be ready for Rodgers this season.
2008 stats: 4,526 yards, 25 TD, 18 INT, 384-616 62.3% completions
Projected 2009: 3,420 yards, 20 TD, 19 INT, 309-502 61.6% completions
Cutler had it made last season with Marshall and Royal catching, but he won't have that luxury in Chicago. He's still a great quarterback, but his first year in Chicago may be a little rough.
He has Forte now to help carry some of the load. He doesn't need to throw the ball 600 plus times to help out his team. You can't expect numbers like 2008, but you can still expect a solid season regardless of who is catching the ball. Quarterbacks make receivers after all.
2008 stats: 1,760 yards, 10 TD, 363 carries, 4.8 YPC, 9 fumbles
Projected 2009: 1,632 yards, 14 TD, 314 carries, 5.2 YPC, 4 fumbles
He's the best running back in the game. As long as the Vikings utilize their passing attack, Peterson shouldn't get so worn down like he did at the end of last season when his fumbling problems broke out.
He splits time with Taylor who saw a decreasing role last season, but expect Taylor to get a few more carries in place of Peterson. Who knows, maybe newcomer Percy Harvin may get a few carries.
2) Matt Forte (Chicago Bears)
2008 stats: 1,238 yards, 8 TD, 316 carries, 3.9 YPC, 1 fumble
Projected 2009: 1,281 yards, 12 TD, 301 carries, 4.3 YPC, 2 fumbles
There will be no "sophomore slump" for this kid. He's an animal. I compare him to a slower version of Reggie Bush except this kid can actually run a football from a handoff. He's deadly with the ball.
He caught a ton of passes last season, something that he likely won't do this season with a gun slinger in front of him. He will be vital to this teams' success. If Forte can keep improving, this offense could be deadly.
3) Kevin Smith (Detroit Lions)
2008 stats: 976 yards, 8 TD, 238 carries, 4.1 YPC, 2 fumbles
Projected 2009 stats: 1,211 yards, 10 TD, 288 carries, 4.2 YPC, 4 fumbles
He was a rookie last season who didn't really get the recognition he deserved because he played for the worst team in NFL history. He quietly racked up some great yardage behind a terrible offensive line.
With a new and improved quarterback at the helm (whether it be Culpepper or Stafford), the Lions should be able to utilize Smith more this season. He may not make the Pro Bowl, but he just may surprise some people.
1) Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)
2008 stats: 78 receptions, 1,331 yards, 12 TD, 17.1 AVG
Projected 2009: 98 receptions 1,653 yards, 14 TD, 16.9 AVG
He was a first round selection for a reason and he showed it last season. He racked up some impressive numbers with terrible quarterback play, something that should improve this season.
Call me crazy for his projected stats, but I strongly believe this will be a monster year for Johnson. With a healthy Culpepper (or Stafford), he will be able to thrive on the long ball. Plus, he's very hard to tackle and is impossible to catch from behind.
2) Greg Jennings (Green Bay Packers)
2008 stats: 80 receptions, 1,292 yards, 9 TD, 16.2 AVG
Projected 2009: 83 receptions, 1,302 yards, 10 TD, 15.7 AVG
He's only gotten better every year and I expect that trend to continue with Rodgers having another year under his belt and a diminishing role played by an aging Donald Driver. He'll get more balls thrown his way, but he'll be better defended having finally made a household name for himself around the NFL.
He's not very big, but he is one of the more physical receivers in the NFL. He relies heavily on making the tacklers miss and does an amazing job of getting yardage after the catch. If I were in a fantasy league, Jennings would be a great acquisition!
3) Bernard Berrian: (Minnesota Vikings)
2008 stats: 48 receptions, 964 yards, 7 TD, 20.1 AVG
Projected 2009: 74 receptions, 1,168 yards, 7 TD, 15.8 AVG
He had a decent 2008, but not worth what the Vikings gave him. His average yards per carry will come back to Earth. He definitely proved to be the deep threat receiver last season averaging a league high 20.1 yards per carry.
With the potential of a new quarterback in Sage Rosenfels, Berrian will get more of an opportunity to catch the ball. Sage doesn't hold onto the ball, he's a slinger with a high completion percentage. Berrian will benefit from better quarterback play much like Calvin Johnson.
4) Devin Hester (Chicago Bears)
2008 stats: 51 receptions, 665 yards, 3 TD, 13.0 AVG
Projected 2009: 68 receptions, 981 yards, 7 TD, 14.4 AVG
Despite what Chicago fans may say, Hester had a good quarterback throwing to him. The only problem was that Hester was too fast for him. Orton couldn't get the ball downfield to Hester. That's something will change with Cutler who can sling the ball 60 plus yards.
He's still trying to make the conversion from the secondary to wide receiver. That's not something that can be done overnight. He's slowly been progressing. Hester wants to focus more on his return skills this offseason than actually trying to work on his route running. Cutler may not find that too appealing.
LT: Chad Clifton (Green Bay Packers): He's very underrated, but age may be an issue
LG: Steve Hutchinson (Minnesota Vikings): The best in the game, but getting old
C: Olin Kreutz (Chicago Bears): He's been dominant his entire career
RG: Anthony Herrera (Minnesota Vikings): He's an underrated run-blocking monster
RT: Mark Tauscher (Green Bay Packers): He will be back, don't worry
1) Kevin Williams (Minnesota Vikings)
2008 stats: 60 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 FF
Projected 2009: 56 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 FF
One of the best defensive tackles in the game led the Vikings to yet another year atop the NFL's best rushing defense. His pass rushing skills are not to be overlooked. He's still got a lot of football in him, but at age 29, how many years does he have left?
Williams also faces a 4-game suspension for breaking the league's substance abuse policy. Kevin and his counterpart Pat both tested positive last year for taking a diuretic, Starcaps, which didn't list the banned substance on the label.
The drug has since been pulled off of shelves. The suspensions won't cause too much problems if they are convicted as the first couple Vikings' games are very winnable, Cleveland and Detroit.
2) Tommie Harris (Chicago Bears)
2008 stats: 37 tackles, 5 sacks, 0 FF
Projected 2009: 49 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 FF
While he doesn't seem to find the ball carrier a lot, he is still one of the best defensive tackles in the game. He's constantly facing double teams which causes his tackle total to be deflated, but expect that to change for the young 26 year old who is already going into his sixth season in the NFL.
Tommie can't do it by himself though. Chicago's pass rushing wasn't the greatest last season and they didn't do anything to address it in the offseason. Let's hope that the Bears' defensive ends give Harris some help so Harris can show his true potential.
3) Pat Williams (Minnesota Vikings)
2008 stats: 44 tackles, 1 sack, 0 FF
Projected 2009: 43 tackles, 2 sacks, 0 FF
What can I say? The Vikings have the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL. Pat Williams is not known for his pass rushing ability whatsoever. What he does do is plug up any holes the offensive line tries to create. His massive 6'3'' 320 pound frame doesn't get moved off the defensive line that easy.
Pat is the other Williams facing the suspension noted above. Players behind the Williams', Fred Evans and Jimmy Kennedy, might have to fill some gigantic shoes come September. Pat is one of the better run stuffers in the league, proven by their dominance against the rushing game the last three seasons.
1) Jared Allen (Minnesota Vikings)
2008 stats: 54 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 3 FF, 2 safeties
Projected 2009: 65 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 2 FF
Jared Allen was acquired for a first round and two thrid round draft picks a season ago. The Vikings then signed him to a lucrative contract. He, unlike Berrian and Madieu Williams, actually proved to be worth it. His first sack of the season was against Peyton Manning.
Jared was selected to another Pro Bowl last season along with the two Williams'. He played last season with a severely sprained shoulder that was supposed to sideline him for up to 4 weeks, bet he played every game.
He injured his knee later in the season on a hit by offensive tackle for the Lions, Gosder Cherilus. Again though, he got up and played. He could be better fully healthy next season.
2) Adewale Ogunleye (Chicago Bears)
2008 stats: 62 tackles, 5 sacks, 0 FF, 1 INT
Projected 2009: 52 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 FF
Ogunleye was expected to be a starting defensive end for years after two solid season in Miami, but has had a little trouble fitting in with the Bears. He has a good year followed by a bad year followed by another good year.
It's off and on with this guy. That's why his 2009 stats are going to be better. That and the defense will rebound after a dismal 2008.
Aside from having a great name that announcers continue to butcher, Adewale is a fierce competitor. One bad thing is he'll be 32 when next season starts. Ogunleye doesn't have many years left. The Bears better start finding a replacement worthy of holding down the defensive end spot.
3) Cullen Jenkins (Green Bay Packers)
2008 stats: 13 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF
Projected 2009: 38 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FF
Jenkins was yet another Packer that found time riding the injury bug last season. He only played in 4 games, but made a significant impact and was looking at having a career year. He'll have to wait probably the rest of his career before he puts up great stats now.
With Green Bay switching to a 3-4, Jenkins gets bumped to the defensive end position. Jenkins and Raji will handle the tackles and Pickett will come up the middle for what could be a dominant front three. Jenkins has the power to move defenders allowing for the Green Bay middle four to have career years.
Middle Linebackers (interior)
1) Nick Barnett (Green Bay Packers)
2008 stats: 49 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 INT, 2 passes defensed, 1 FF
Projected 2009 stats: 119 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 8 passes defensed, 3 FF
His 2008 stats are unimpressive, but the guy missed nearly half the season. He has been a steady force for the Packers' defense. A switch to a 3-4 may help his sack total a little and will help to get the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage.
Barnett is definitely a force to be reckoned with. He has been consistent and tackles the ball carrier with ease. He is the face of the Packers' defense. When he went down with injury last season, the defense seemed to fall apart. They lost their vocal leader, but he'll be back next season meaner than ever.
2) EJ Henderson (Minnesota Vikings)
2008 stats: 27 tackles, 1 sack, 0 INT, 0 passes defensed, 1 FF
Projected 2009 stats: 125 tackles, 5 sacks, 0 INT, 4 passes defensed, 3 FF
Much like Barnett his stats are unimpressive, but he missed more than 12 games. The Vikings missed him last season much like the Packers did Barnett. Henderson, aka Superman, is more of a run stuffer. He doesn't do well in pass protection, but the Vikings will hope that changes quick.
The Vikings are eager to see how Henderson's foot responds after surgery last season. After the season was over, Vikings' coach and Henderson both said he could have returned in week 15, but the Vikings didn't want to push Henderson on his rehab. Let's hope that the wait pays off.
1) Chad Greenway (Minnesota Vikings)
2008 stats: 115 tackles, 5 sacks, 0 INT, 5 passes defensed, 3 FF
Projected 2009: 120 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 INT, 7 passes defensed, 3 FF
The guy broke out last season after the injury of EJ Henderson. After missing his entire rookie season, Greenway came back and made an immediate impact for the Vikings' defense. Another year later, he nearly made the Pro Bowl in favor of NFC North winners Lance Briggs and Julian Peterson.
He's still very young and will only get better. He's fast, strong, and can cover the pass. He's a bright young star that will make several Pro Bowls by the time his career is over. He has a lot of talent to beat, but he can do it.
2) AJ Hawk (Green Bay Packers)
2008 stats: 86 tackles, 3 sacks, 0 INT, 1 pass defensed, 0 FF
Projected 2009: 115 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 INT, 5 passes defensed, 3 FF
A switch to a 3-4 will benefit this guy the most. He has the speed to beat slower offensive tackles and the power to bowl over smaller offensive guards. He is one of the more exciting guys to watch on the field. His shear knowledge of the game is unbelievable.
AJ missed the "sophomore slump" only to hit a lesser known "junior slump". While the slump was really that bad, it was noticeable. However, I don't expect it to last long. He will be hungry next season and have a tag attached to the back of everybody with the ball in their hands.
3) Lance Briggs (Chicago Bears)
2008 stats: 110 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 3 INT, 10 passes defensed, 1 FF
Projected 2009 stats: 113 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 INT, 8 passes defensed, 2 FF
He made the Pro Bowl last season thanks largely to his three interceptions and 10 passes defensed. His pass coverage skills last season were awesome. I expect him to improve his numbers from last season a little. Chicago's defense acted out of the ordinary last season, but expect that slump to end.
Briggs has been asked to step it up as fellow linebacker Brian Urlacher doesn't seem to have much left anymore. Briggs has done well over the years and is finally getting recognition. It will be interesting to see how the defense will fair after not upgrading any major position.
4) Julian Peterson (Detroit Lions)
2008 stats: 86 tackles, 5 sacks, 0 INT, 5 passes defensed, 4 FF
Projected 2009: 99 tackles, 6 sacks, 0 INT, 4 passes defensed, 2 FF
He won't have a Patrick Kerney to take blockers away from him, but Peterson should still be a force. They do still have Ernie Sims who can run like the wind, but not always in the right direction. The Lions gave up enough to get him and they hope things will pan out in their favor. Peterson was a solid pick up, but did they give up too much?
Peterson has one thing going against him next season, age. He'll be 31 when next season begins. Linebackers typically don't have the greatest of seasons past 31, but some have definitely flourished. The Lions are hoping Peterson can still play another 3 years minimum.
1) Charles Woodson (Green Bay Packers)
2008 stats: 62 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 INT, 17 passes defensed, 1 FF
Projected 2009: 58 tackles, 1 sack, 6 INT, 12 passes defensed, 2 FF
This guy doesn't seem to let age bother him. He gets better every season and I will look for that trend to continue for at least on more year. Age is creeping up and will finally take his abilities, but not this season. He likely won't get as many balls thrown his way after a career year. Is it me or is every guy with the name Woodson great in the secondary?
It's uncertain who will start opposite of Woodson. The Packers are for some reason reluctant to pull the overrated Al Harris from his starting spot in place of the star in the making, Tramon Williams. It remains to be seen how Woodson will be impacted by the cornerback opposite of him.
2) Antoine Winfield (Minnesota Vikings)
2008 stats: 95 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INT, 11 passes defensed, 4 FF
Projected 2009: 81 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INT, 13 passes defensed, 2 FF
In his tenth season in the league, Winfield finally got his well deserved Pro Bowl. He has been an elite shutdown corner since he came into the league and was constantly overlooked due to his less than stellar interception numbers. He makes up for those interception numbers by being the single best tackling corner in the game. He had an impressive 81 solo tackles last season.
Aside from his incredible stat line, he also returned a blocked field-goal back for a touchdown and single handedly beat the Carolina Panthers in week 3. Like Woodson, age doesn't seem to be an issue, but Winfield showed signs of slowing down near the end of last season. He doesn't have but maybe 2-3 years left in him.
3) Tramon Williams (Green Bay Packers)
2008 stats: 57 tackles, 0 sacks, 5 INT, 14 passes defensed, 2 FF
Projected 2009: 69 tackles, 1 sack, 4 INT, 17 passes defensed, 1 FF
He is definitely a star in the making. He did get a handful of starts last season, but that was largely due to injuries in the secondary. The sooner that Mike McCarthy realizes that Al Harris is nothing but a big hit corner who consistently gets beat, the better this Packers defense will be.
He was signed by the Texans after going undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft, but was ultimately cut before the season began. The Packers saw something that no one else did and signed him to their practice squad. He was a heavy special teams contributor in the 2007 season and an even better defensive contributer in 2008.
4) Charles Tillman (Chicago Bears)
2008 stats: 93 tackles, 0 sacks, 3 INT, 17 passes defensed, 4 FF
Projected 2009: 78 tackles, 1 sack, 4 INT, 12 passes defensed, 2 FF
Tillman had an amazing year for the not so great Bears defense. However, Tillman was a lone bright spot in a weak secondary that saw a depressing fall of Nathan Vasher. Tillman is still 28, young by the NFC North standards of secondary members.
Tillman has all the tools to become a Pro Bowler for years, but something is missing. Wait a minute, no its not. This guy is great all around. He does a great job of shutting down the defender and getting to the ball carrier. Expect yet another great season from Tillman.
1) Atari Bigby (Green Bay Packers)
2008 stats: 21 tackles, 0 sacks, 1 INT, 2 passes defensed, 0 FF
Projected 2009: 62 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INT, 7 passes defensed, 0 FF
Again, another Packer injured for the season. After a great 2007 season, Bigby had some struggles in 2008 before getting injured. Those struggles shouldn't last long though. Bigby should back good as new.
He's entering his 5 season for the Packers and there's a strong possibility he'll retain his starting role. He is currently a restricted free agent, but he'll end up in Green Bay next season for sure.
2) Tyrell Johnson (Minnesota Vikings)
2008 stats: 31 tackles, 0 sacks, 1 INT, 1 passes defensed, 0 FF
Projected 2009: 66 tackles, 0 sacks, 2 INT, 7 passes defensed, 1 FF
He got to start his rookie season after prized free agent Madieu Williams went down with a vertebrae injury. He often found himself out of place early on, but started to come around and showed strong promise in his final starts. He'll take the place of ex-Packer Darren Sharper who was not kept after a disappointing 2008 season.
Johnson is a hard hitting safety with a nose for the ball. He still has trouble adjusting to the NFL game, but things should come around for the former Arkansas State star. Don't expect too much out of him, just enough to keep his starting role in a division deprived of good strong safeties.
1) Nick Collins (Green Bay Packers)
2008 season: 72 tackles, 0 sacks, 7 INT, 15 passes defensed, 1 FF
Projected 2009: 43 tackles, 0 sacks, 5 INT, 10 passes defensed, 1 FF
Collins was great all season long and held his ground against some very talented offenses. His seven interceptions were tied for second in the league only behind fellow free safety Ed Reed. That's very good company if you ask me. Collins also returned three interceptions back for touchdowns.
Collins will see a sharp decline in his tackle numbers as the 3-4 safety is required to defend the pass even more than a 4-3 safety. Not too many 3-4 safeties put up great tackle numbers anyway. This will give Collins the opportunity to be more of a ball hawk like Darren Sharper was for the Packers in his hay days.
2) Madieu Williams (Minnesota Vikings)
2008 season: 42 tackles, 0 sacks, 2 INT, 3 passes defensed, 0 FF
Projected 2009: 65 tackles, 0 sacks, 4 INT, 7 passes defensed, 1 FF
Another year under the Vikings system will help Williams out. He was injured for much of the season with a vertebrae injury.
It didn't seem to slow him down a bit as he came in immediately and made his presence known with some well executed hits and timely interceptions. He was one of the big three acquisitions made by the Vikings before the 2008 season.
Williams looks to build on a solid half-year performance. He is more knonw for his brutal hits than his coverage abilities, but that's something that defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier loves. The harder hitting the safeties, the better. Just ask the Packers. They've made a living doing so with their hard hitting secondary.
Kicker: Mason Crosby (Green Bay Packers): A bright young kid who can really kick
Punter: Chris Kluwe (Minnesota Vikings): Stop out kicking your coverage
KR: Daniel Manning (Chicago Bears): Hester won't get his job back that easy
PR: Devin Hester (Chicago Bears): He should regain his 2006-2007 forms
CB Anthony Henry (Detroit Lions)
He was acquired in a trade that sent Kitna to the Cowboys. His age is up there and he lost a step last season. He'll hope to regain his 2007 form and provide much needed help in the Detroit secondary
MLB Brian Urlacher (Chicago Bears)
He clearly lost a step last season. You can't expect that to last too long. I expect him to rebound with a good, not great 2009 season. He is still one of the more feared hitters in the game.
He still has a few years left and will be determined to prove to the entire NFL that he can still play. The rest of the defense needs to step it up though.
RB Ryan Grant (Green Bay Packers)
Which form will they get, the 2007 version or the 2008 version? He came on strong at the end of the season, but it was too late. The Packers needed him to be from the beginning. People say he's a one-year wonder.
I don't think he'll ever regain his 2007 form, but he'll still be very productive. The better Grant is, the better Rodgers will be. The Packers need him dearly.
QB Sage Rosenfels (Minnesota Vikings)
If the Vikings do give Sage a chance to prove his worth, he could be great. He has a high completion percentage which is something the Vikings have lacked since Culpepper left the team.
People point out his interception numbers, but he had four of them in one game against the Ravens. Every quarterback has a bad day. Don't place one year's stats on one game.