As we reach training camp, it’s time to take a look at the best players in each division by position. Here we will be looking at the 2021 NFC North offense. It’s a division that could be in transition in 2021 with questions surrounding a very key figure. Regardless, there is plenty of talent up and down the rest of this group. Don’t forget to check back soon with Last Word on Pro Football for the 2021 NFC North defense.
2021 NFC North All-Division Team: The Offense
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
When it comes to the reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers, he’s the best quarterback in the division until he isn’t. Even reports were suggesting the 16-year veteran could go so far as to retire to avoid suiting up for the Pack again. Now that he’s back in the fold, the Pack can chase glory with him at least one more time. Division champion eight times, including each of the last two years, along with just one season in the NFC North basement puts Rodgers head and shoulders above his peers, with both Detroit and Chicago going with a passer who’s never thrown a pass in the division.
Rodgers is coming off of his ninth 4000-passing yard season, his third season with at least 40 touchdowns (a career-high 48 in ‘21), and first completing over 70 percent of his passes as a starter. Again, if he isn’t here when the season begins we can revisit the discussion and runner-up Kirk Cousins. But for now, the crown wearer for the 2021 NFC North offense is a Packer.
Running Back: Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings)
Dalvin Cook gets the love his quarterback didn’t, as he edges out Aaron Jones of the Packers and David Montgomery of the Chicago Bears. The former Florida State Seminole rushed for a career-high 1557 yards and 16 touchdowns (both second in the NFL) while adding another 361 yards and a score through the air. He also stayed mostly healthy, appearing in 14 games for the second year in a row.
Wide Receiver: Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers)
This would be awkward if we hadn’t already done the disclaimer with Rodgers. Davante Adams isn’t at the point of threatening retirement, but he and the Packers have broken off contract talks. He led the league with 18 receiving touchdowns and had his second 1300-yard season. There are a lot of moving parts in Green Bay but when everyone is accounted for, Adams is at the top of his position.
Wide Receiver: Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings)
Justin Jefferson makes this list after he put 1400 yards on 88 grabs with seven scores. He had some pretty big shoes to fill in the wake of Stefon Diggs’ departure. But Jefferson has looked every bit the part and then some. Entering the league pegged as a slot threat, Jefferson averaged
Slot Receiver: Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears)
Despite being the Bears best (and often only) offensive threat the past three seasons, Allen Robinson and the organization have failed to reach an agreement on a new deal. He’s improved each season since he arrived and just put up a 100-catch, 1200-yard season with arguably the worst quarterback play in the NFL last season. Reports are the Bears will look to use him more in the slot this season after trading Anthony Miller.
Tight End: T.J. Hockenson (Detroit Lions)
T.J. Hockenson better enjoy his time at the positional mountain top while it lasts. Green Bay’s Robert Tonyan is at worst right on his heels, while Irv Smith (Vikings) and Cole Kmet (Bears) are going to make their marks soon. As it stands, Hockenson is at the front with 67 catches, 723 yards, and six scores. It does remain to be seen how he’ll be used under this new regime, but he’s still their most reliable pass-catcher.
Left Tackle: David Bakhtiari (Green Bay Packers)
It would be hard for Aaron Rodgers to have the success he does were it not for the efforts of David Bakhtiari on his blindside. Bakhtiari was named First-Team All-Pro for the first time last season and has been a Pro Bowler in four of the last five seasons, including three straight. Green Bay tied for second-fewest sacks allowed in the NFL last season.
Left Guard: Elgton Jenkins (Green Bay Packers)
Yes, the Packers boast the best left side in the division. That’s thanks in no small part to third-year pro, Elgton Jenkins who’s coming off of a Pro Bowl sophomore campaign. Packers running backs were also more likely to run behind him and Aaron Jones in particular had his best trots running to the left.
Center: Frank Ragnow (Detroit Lions)
The Lions actually have the makings of a sneaky-good offensive line with Frank Ragnow anchoring at center. He’s coming off of his first Pro Bowl season and was only hit with two penalties total. The question will be about what he’s protecting. The Lions have undergone a massive overhaul this offseason. Strength in the trenches is invaluable
Right Guard: Ezra Cleveland (Minnesota Vikings)
Vikings guard Ezra Cleveland takes the crown in a battle between him and Packers guard Lucas Patrick. Detroit’s Halapoulivaati Vaitai did not play particularly well last season and the Bears aren’t even sure who their right guard will be. It also doesn’t hurt that he helped clear paths for the league’s second-leading rusher.
Right Tackle: Brian O’Neill
Cousins probably wouldn’t have thrown for the eighth-most passing yards this past season without Brian O’Neill. The rest of Minnesota’s line was either young or just plain bad last season. But, with the addition of first-round rookie Christian Darrisaw, they should be much better in 2021. That’s a scary proposition considering the production they got with only O’Neill playing well enough to make the 2021 NFC North offense.
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