Introducing the 2009 All-NFC North Team
After looking at the North, this division has perhaps the league's best running back, the league's best defensive tackle tandem, and one of the best free-agent pick-ups.
In the end, this was still not an easy team to compile, especially at quarterback.
Here is the preseason All-NFC North team.
Oh, before we get started, Jay Cutler is actually not the top QB. I'll explain later, especially to Cutler and Bear fans.
QUARTERBACK: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay- Yes, even on a 6-10 team, and his performances late in games, Rodgers still had a higher passer rating than Cutler, and his touchdown-to-interception ratio was 28-13. Plus, he knows he has a pro bowl receiver to throw to in Donald Driver.
RUNNING BACK: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota- It won't be long until we see him rush for 2,000 yards.
FULLBACK: Jason McKie, Chicago- Not only is he a solid lead blocker, he can run and catch as well. He is one of the league's most versatile fullbacks.
WIDE RECEIVER: Calvin Johnson, Detroit- On a team that did everything wrong, he did almost everything right with 1,331 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
WIDE RECEIVER: Greg Jennings, Green Bay- He is an emerging star with 80 receptions and 16.2 yards per catch last season.
TIGHT END: Greg Olsen, Chicago- He's a 255-pound guy who has very good speed and hands. He'll be one of Cutler's new favorite targets.
LEFT TACKLE: Orlando Pace, Chicago- The Bears hope he can provide a good two to three years of play before he calls it a career.
LEFT GUARD: Steve Hutchinson, Minnesota- He is the best at what he does, even after nine years in the league.
CENTER: Olin Kreutz, Chicago- He may not be a pro bowl caliber player anymore, but he still remains a strong presence in the huddle and in the locker room.
RIGHT GUARD: Stephen Peterman, Detroit- He may not be dominant, but he's competitive and fiery.
RIGHT TACKLE: Breno Giacomini, Green Bay- If this massive, 6'7", 311-pound tackle can block out Aaron Kampman well in practice, he can block almost any good rusher.
DEFENSIVE END: Alex Brown, Chicago- He has been a high-motor guy for the Bears throughout his career, and he led the team in sacks last season.
DEFENSIVE END: Jared Allen, Minnesota- He was the boost the Vikings' defensive line needed with 14.5 sacks.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Kevin Williams, Minnesota- His 8.5 sacks was his best total since the 2004-2005 season. He even has two career touchdowns, off of interceptions.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Pat Williams, Minnesota- The massive 317-pound defender is an immovable force and a key reason why the Vikings are always good against the run.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: Lance Briggs, Chicago- He's emerged as the Bears' best all-around linebacker, even with Brian Urlacher alongside him.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: Julian Peterson, Detroit- Jim Schwartz gets his Keith Bulluck type player on the outside. The versatile five-time pro bowler should be used in a variety of ways.
INSIDE LINEBACKER: Brian Urlacher, Chicago- He's getting older, plus he has missed the last two pro bowls. But he can still make impact plays.
CORNERBACK: Antoine Winfield, Minnesota- He still remains a physical corner and one of the league's fiercest hitters in the secondary.
CORNERBACK: Charles Woodson, Green Bay- He's still not showing his age. He tied for the conference lead in picks at age 32.
FREE SAFETY: Nick Collins, Green Bay- Like Woodson, he tied for the NFC lead with seven interceptions.
STRONG SAFETY: Daniel Bullocks, Detroit- He can hit you hard. Schwartz should love his aggressiveness.
PUNTER: Brad Maynard, Chicago- 40 of his punts were placed inside the 20-yard-line.
KICKER: Jason Hanson, Detroit- He's still reliable and still loyal to the Lions after 18 seasons.
RETURN MAN: Devin Hester, Chicago- Last season was a disappointment because he focused more on being a receiver. But when you put him back on returns, he can still make special team units cringe.
SPECIALIST: Korey Hall, Green Bay- If he's not considered a good fullback, he's better at handling special team duties.
Jay Cutler, quarterback, Chicago- Yes, he has pro bowls and a rocket-arm. But he doesn't have a go-to-receiver right now. He must prove himself after his Rocky Mountain fallout and elevate this slow-moving Bears offense.
Matt Forte, running back, Chicago- Maybe he can be Cutler's best offensive option. He's a do-everything back for the Bears.
Donald Driver, wide receiver, Green Bay- He's averaged over 74 catches in the last five seasons. The former pro bowler still has great speed at 34.
Bernard Berrian, wide receiver, Minnesota- Berrian is the deep threat the Vikings needed. Averaged 20.1 yards per catch.
Visanthe Shiancoe, tight end, Minnesota- Improved significantly in his second season with the Vikings. He scored seven touchdowns last season.
Ryan Grant, running back, Green Bay- He rushed for 1,203 yards last season even after contract squabble.
Bryant McKinnie, left tackle, Minnesota- If only he can excel in the zone-blocking scheme his team uses, he'd be a complete left tackle.
Jeff Backus, left tackle, Detroit- Since 2001, he's started every game for the Lions on the left side.
Ray Edwards, defensive end, Minnesota- If he contributes in a big way, the Vikings front four will become the league's best unit.
Tommie Harris, defensive tackle, Chicago- When healthy, he's an elite three-technique tackle, and he makes the unit better.
Ryan Pickett, nose tackle, Green Bay- At 6'2", 330 pounds, he'll have no problem lining up in the middle in the new 3-4 Packer defense.
Aaron Kampman, outside linebacker, Green Bay- Even if he hasn't played linebacker since high school, count on one thing: he'll still rush the passer.
Chad Greenway, outside linebacker, Minnesota- Greenway went from having a season-ending injury his rookie year in 2006 to leading the Vikings in tackles last season. He performs at a near-pro bowl level.
Percy Harvin, wide receiver, Minnesota- He's an explosive playmaker who can be used in a variety of ways.
B.J Raji, defensive tackle, Green Bay- He mauled offensive linemen everywhere for Boston College. At 6'2", 337 pounds, he'll share nose tackle duties with Pickett and even line up at end.
Head Coach: Brad Childress, Minnesota- His teams win by two more games each year (six, eight, ten). Another two-game improvement should easily mean the NFC North title again.
Offensive Assistant: Joe Philbin, Green Bay- The Packers' offense ranked eighth overall and scored 419 points last season, without Brett Favre.
Defensive Assistant: Leslie Frazier, Minnesota- In time, he'll be an NFL head coach because of the work he's done with the new Purple People Eaters.
Special Teams Coach: Dave Toub, Chicago- He not only has Hester, but he has the accurate Robbie Gould and Brad Maynard.
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