Each NFC North’s Biggest Draft Need

By Leo Silbert

It is getting to the point of the year that fans are trying to figure out who their team needs to draft or what position needs the most help. Some teams like the Patriots don’t have a glaring need so they are able to pick for desire and are allowed greater risks. Other teams like the Browns have needs all over the map so they are best suited to just take the best available player. I’m going to sort this out by division and within the divisions I’ll sort them by 2016 records.

Next up, the NFC North:

  1. Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons  Green Bay Packers- The Packers started the season out very slow at 4-6 and there were rumblings of how they should fire Mike McCarthy and that Aaron Rodgers might be done.  Then Rodgers made his now famous “we just have to run the table” comment and he proceeded to do that for the rest of the regular season while putting together one of the best 6 game stretches of quarterback play ever with 18 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions.  His great play over the closing weeks of the season and through the first two playoff games helped to mask some severe deficiencies on the rest of the team.  They were down to using wide receiver Ty Montgomery as their starting running back while they were moving safeties to corner back due to all the injuries suffered there.  The latter of those two is their biggest need because Ty Montgomery didn’t look too bad as a running back and they may be able to get away with him and a healthy Eddy Lacy is he is resigned.  Their corner backs on the other hand were Micah Hyde and a bunch of warm bodies, and Micah Hyde was a safety.  Sure, they’ll be getting Sam Shields off of injury, but before his injury he wasn’t looking that good.  If Green Bay can start building their corner back depth chart with some real corners, then their defense can start to complement Aaron Rodgers’ ability to play incredible even when he is at a talent disadvantage.
  2. matt-staffordDetroit Lions- The Lions are a team that has to think “if only Matt Stafford didn’t injure his throwing hand in the last month of the season.”  Before Stafford’s injury, he had the Lions looking like the comeback kids of the league and he had an outside shot at being named the MVP.  That was when the Lions were 9-4 and Stafford had engineered 8 fourth quarter comebacks.  After he injured his hand though, the team finished with 3 regular season losses and a wildcard round exit in the playoffs.  It sucks when an injury causes a meltdown for a team but now they need to focus on what they can do next year to help the team if Stafford ends up dealing with another injury?  Something that would really help them is a good running game.  The Lions have a stable of running backs who are all primarily talented at receiving the ball, but aren’t much of a threat to run the ball which is their primary job.  They have an offensive line that can create holes and move on pull blocks so the blame really does go back to the running backs.  If the Lions can get a true running back instead of what basically amounts to a short yardage receiver, then maybe Stafford won’t have to make so many comebacks and the team’s fortunes won’t solely be tied to his ability to stay healthy.
  3. Xavier RhodesMinnesota Vikings- During the early part of training camp and the preseason, the Vikings were a trendy Superbowl pick.  They had a great defense some people thought could be as good as the 2015 Broncos defense, a legendary running back in Adrian Peterson, and a quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who was able to do enough to get his offense to score more than the defense would allow.  Then about a week before the season, Bridgewater went down with a horrific injury which prompted the Vikings to trade a first round pick and a future fourth round pick to the Eagles in exchange for Sam Bradford.  They started the season out 5-0, showing that the Superbowl predictions may have been well warranted, but after that hot start, they finished a disappointing 8-8.  Losing eight of your final 11 games shows that they had the same old Sam Bradford as he has always been (inconsistent qb who can show flashed of brilliance, but flashes of “why is this guy an NFL qb”).  That also shows that they had more deeply entrenched  deficiencies throughout the team.  The biggest need for this team is the same as many other teams I have done this for (and likely will again), offensive line.  Matt Kalil when healthy is one of the biggest draft busts of the last 10 years while his replacement TJ Clemmings was somehow even worse.  When you have some of the worst tackle play in the league, the rest of your offense suffers.  They also had some of the worst play in the league of any center in the league.  Nick Easton was below average in pass blocking and in run blocking he struggled to create any push.  The Vikings had okay play from their guards, but when they are surrounded by bad play, it is hard to see their impact.  If the Vikings can fix their offensive line, they may be able to prove that they could deserve Superbowl talk next season.
  4. leonard-floydChicago Bears- The Bears are a team of many needs at many positions.  They went into the season with many people having low expectations for their team and they definitely lived up to those lowly expectations.  They made some good draft picks with Leonard Floyd and Cody Whitehair, but there is a position that they need more than any other, and it is one of the positions they are most highly invested in.  Jay Cutler is done as a starting caliber NFL quarterback.  If the Bears want to compete in this league, they need a quarterback who can lead them there.  They have the pieces to have at least an average offensive line.  They have a good running back tandem, good receivers, a good tight end and a bunch of pieces on defense.  This team needs a quarterback probably more than any other team in the league and if they get a good one, then the Bears can finally be relevant again in today’s NFL.

Previous articles in this series:

AFC East- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-east-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC North- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-north-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC South- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC West- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need-2/

NFC East-

SUPERBOWL OR BUST

By: Melvin Jackson III

The Redskins are coming out of a bye week with a new focus and new life for the last half of the season.  They have a new starting running back with Rob Kelly and that is going to take this team to the next level.

This week the Redskins played the slumping Vikings who started to season red hot and beating up on everyone they played. They have recently been stopped in their tracks. The defense still plays well but the offense is horrible and it’s all Sam Bradford and the offense line fault.

The Vikings woes played to the strength of the skins because we started to run the ball very well and got a few stops against them. The Vikings did score 20 straight points on the skins to take the lead and the skins started to look like the same sorry redskins of the past. They overcame that and went on to win the game with an excellent game from Kirk Cousins who is right now the leader of winning the MVP of the league. Jamieson Crowder is playing like he is emerging as a number one wide receiver and the best wide receiver in the NFC east.

The skins have an easy game coming up next week against the packers. The packers are a mess and just got smacked by the Titians who are not that good of a team. I expect us to blow the packers out by three touchdowns and then get ready for a rematch with the most hated Cowboys.

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Viking: What Will it Take to Win?

Sports Elite 

Written by LaDonna Williams

team-top-2015

 

There are a few things that need to happen for the Vikings to win their division again this year.

 

  1. Teddy Bridgewater– Teddy has a lot of pressure on his shoulders this year. This year he needs to focus on throwing to his wide receivers more. The Vikings need a deep threat which they will have them with Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell. Hopefully, Bridgewater has worked on that part of his game. We all know he is quick, can run, but his arm strength isn’t that great. As well, he needs to work on his accuracy last season he had nine interceptions.

 

  1. Adrian Peterson– Well, all AP needs to do is be AP. Last year he had 1485 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also averaged 4.5 yards per play. He needs a repeat of that again this year, but minus the fumbles. He had seven of them last year. He needs to hold the rock better this season.

 

  1. Their offensive line to make holes for AP and protect Bridgewater. This off-season the Vikings added tackle Alex Boone, former 49ers player. They also added tackle Andre Smith, former Bengal. Now they have the most expensive offensive line in the NFL after signing these two.

 

  1. The defense last year was great. Last year they ended with a top five defense in the league. They also have one of the deepest secondary in the NFC. One thing the defense needs to work on is turnovers. Last year they gave up 875 yards, because of penalties. This number is way too high for top five defense.

 

Now, if the Vikings are able to do these things. They will be able to control the conference again with no problem. As well make it further during the playoffs

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Don’t Sleep On Stefon Diggs

By LaDonna Williams

The Vikings 2016 season is upon us. Last season it was the Adrian Peterson show. He had over 1000-yards in rushing, over 200-yards in receiving and he had 11 touchdowns. While he was doing his thing, there was a rookie wide receiver showing the world why he should have been drafted higher than he was. His name is Stefon Diggs. He played for Maryland was drafted in 2015 in the 5th round. Last season, Diggs led the wide receivers with 720 yards and he had 4 touchdowns. He did all this and he didn’t even play until week four. Imagine what he could do playing every game.

Minnesota Vikings v Denver Broncos

This season the Vikings did add Laquon Treadwell in this year’s draft. Which I think is a great addition to the team, but Diggs will still be the number one receiver on the team. He became a leader on the team in his first year. Everyone thought that Mike Wallace was going to be the main target last season, but with Diggs speed and great hands it became a no brainer who was number one on the team.

“The Vikings’ offense… led by Teddy Bridgewater… should finally become a unit that shouldn’t be taken lightly and able to put up points on the board. And with their already stout defense on the opposite side of the ball, Minnesota could repeat as NFC North champions”.

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Teddy Bridgewater Key for Vikings Going Deep Into the Postseason

By Michael Eccleston

ESPN Senior Writer Matthew Berry came out with his rankings of the NFL quarterbacks coming into the 2016 season last month, and he ORIGINALLY ranked Minnesota Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater 33rd…

33rd?

The injustice… I don’t care if it was fantasy quarterbacks or not. There aren’t even 33 starting quarterbacks in the NFL! That means he would have taken one of the current backup quarterbacks over the third year player out of Louisville. He had ranked Geno Smith ahead of him.. Ouch. That’s mind-boggling in itself. The fact that the Jets haven’t signed Ryan Fitzpatrick yet is a joke, but I digress.

Now, I’m not saying that Teddy Bridgewater is a star by any means, but this just didn’t make sense to me. So far in his NFL career, he has averaged just over 3,000 yards passing in his two full seasons and has thrown a total of 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Plus, he’s completed 65 percent of his passes. Solid. Steady. He hasn’t put up the flashiest of numbers just yet, but he’s young, and he’s shown signs of being a quality, reliable quarterback in this league. Bridgewater hasn’t put up the kind of numbers that will make you fall out of your seat because he’s had one of the greatest runningbacks in the history of the NFL in Adrian Peterson behind him. A lot of young quarterbacks will try to come in and be the gunslinger, forcing bad turnovers, but Bridgewater has understood the position that he’s been in, kept his composure, and has made smart decisions. That’s a sign of maturity, which is huge for a quarterback. He’s had great games when needed, and this team will become his sooner rather than later.

In Bridgewater’s first career playoff game this past year, his stats weren’t pretty throwing for just 146 yards, but he made some huge throws in the 4th quarter, and put his team in a position to win against the Legion of Boom and the Seattle Seahawks. If it hadn’t been for kicker Blair Walsh missing a 27 yard field goal, which is still difficult for a lot of people to watch, the Minnesota Vikings would have upset the Seahawks.

This is a pretty strong resume that Bridgewater has quietly started, and with young, talented weapons such as wide receivers Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, the addition of first rounder Laquon Treadwell, and runningback Jerick McKinnon coming out of the backfield to throw to, there’s no reason to think that he can’t get even better in the coming years.

It is difficult to go far in the postseason without at least an above average aerial attack. All I know is that when Teddy Bridgewater breaks out, the Minnesota Vikings will be Super Bowl contenders for years to come.

Yeah, I went there. The Vikings have one of the best young defenses in the National Football League led by linebacker Anthony Barr, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, free safety Harrison Smith, defensive end Everson Griffen, and defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Everyone who watches the Vikings, or who watched them play against the Seahawks, has seen them fly around relentlessly. Now, with a new dome stadium, they will be even more hyped up to continue putting pressure on the opposition and forcing turnovers. The offensive line was a weakness last season, but if they can clean that up and give Bridgewater some time to throw, along with that frightening rushing attack, this will be a fun year for Vikings fans.

This Vikings team is built to win now. The running game and defense are good enough to get them into the postseason, but if they want to go deep into the postseason, Bridgewater will have to take his game to the next level.

And I believe he will.

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