With Judas’ return to the NFC North, there seems to be an awful lot of discussion amongst fans where he fits on the list of quarterbacks already in the division.
For the record, I have him third…and that’s only because I don’t know how good Matthew Stafford is really going to be. I wanted to put him fourth, but even I couldn’t do it.
That got me thinking, who are the other best’s at their respective positions in the division?
After putting some thought into it, I came up with my list. Some were easier to pick than others, that’s for sure.
Anyways, here’s the list. Some fun and debatable reading if you happen to find yourself with a case of the Mondays.
(And if you didn’t pick up on the reference in the title, just Google Joe Esposito+You’re the best around. It will be the most awesome few minutes of your day, I promise.)
Best quarterback: Aaron Rodgers (Packers)
Last season, Rodgers threw for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns with a shoddy offensive line and an injured shoulder. He’s healthy now and has an improved o-line in front of him. He’s got all the intangibles you look for in a leader and, with a ridiculous set of weapons to work with, he should be even better this year. Runner up: Jay Cutler (Bears).
Best running back: Adrian Peterson (Vikings)
This was the easiest one to pick. Peterson is big, fast and aggressive – basically everything you’d want in a back. He’s already put up two huge seasons and is the only runner currently in the league with a shot to hit 2,000 yards. As Packers fans, we’re going to hate this guy for a long time to come. Runner up: Ryan Grant (Packers)
Best fullback: None
When I looked at the fullbacks currently in the division, none really jumped out at me, which is to say there isn’t a best in the bunch. So rather than make some uninformed guess, I just left it blank. That’s the kind of honesty you get at OBOD.
Best wide receiver: Calvin Johnson (Lions)
That Johnson has amassed the numbers he has playing with the types of QBs he’s had (cough, Jon Kitna, cough, cough) shows just how good he really is. For example, he put up over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Blessed with size (6-feet, 5-inches and 235 pounds) and an ability to outrun and outjump almost anyone, Johnson is a freak of Randy Moss proportions. Imagine what he could do with a good quarterback. Runner up: Greg Jennings (Packers)
Best tight end: Greg Olson (Bears)
There’s some good tight ends in the division, but no really great ones. In that event, I picked the player with the most upside right now. That player is Olson. At 6-feet, 5-inches and 252 pounds, Olson has more than enough size. But he can also run, has good hands and a natural playmaking ability. He blossomed in year two last season, recording 574 yards and five touchdowns. With a new quarterback who likes utilizing the tight end, Olson should put up much bigger numbers this year. Runner up: Jermichael Finley (Packers)
Best offensive lineman: Steve Hutchinson (Vikings)
Hutchinson is getting up there in age (he’ll be 32 in November). Still, he’s a lock to make the Pro Bowl every season, almost never misses a game and is equally good in pass protection and run blocking. He’s got good size (6-feet, 5-inches and 313 pounds) but can move pretty well. Runner up: Olin Kreutz (Bears)
Best defensive lineman: Jared Allen (Vikings)
Of all the non-Judas Vikings, this is the guy I really dispise. With his mullet and phony attempts at humor/trying to prove he’s a cowboy (don’t get cowboy confused with white trash, Jared), how could you not? Still, Allen is a hell of a defensive end. He can play the run almost as well as the pass. But it’s as a pass rusher where he really makes his mark. He recorded 14.5 sacks in his first year in purple and he has a nonstop motor that will likely allow him to put up similar numbers this year. I would have put Aaron Kampman here, but he’s a linebacker now. Runner up: Cullen Jenkins (Packers)
Best linebacker: Lance Briggs (Bears)
I have, for years, thought that Brian Urlacher was ridiculously overrated. Now I can finally share that with the masses! Briggs is the true star of the Bears linebacking corps, a sideline-to-sideline player who can cover, rush the passer and stop the run. The Bears defense could survive without Urlacher; the same can’t be said if Briggs goes down. Runner up: Nick Barnett (Packers)
Best defensive back: Charles Woodson (Packers)
Woodson will be 33 in October and many probably thought he’d be out of the game by then. No, no, not Woodson – Woodson is flourishing. He made his fifth Pro Bowl appearance last season and, with a new scheme that is tailor-made for his playmaking abilities, he’ll likely be there again this year. He’s been dominant in the preseason and that should only get better. Runner up: Nick Collins (Packers)
Best kicker: Jason Hanson (Lions)
Yes, he’s 38. Yes, he’s spent the majority of his career kicking indoors. Still, Hanson is as solid and reliable as they come. Consider last season where he led the NFL in field goal percentage (95.5 percent) and, oh yeah, became the first kicker ever to go 8-for-8 on field goals over 50 yards. Runner-up: Robbie Gould (Bears)
Best punter: Brad Maynard (Bears)
With 40 – yes, 40 – punts landing inside opponents’ 20 yard line last season, Maynard proved a master at setting his defense up to win the field position battle. He’s getting up there in age, turning 35 this year, but is still one of the best around. Runner up: Chris Kluwe (Vikings)
Best coach: Lovie Smith (Bears)
Since Smith is the only coach in the division to reach a Super Bowl, he seemed the most obvious choice. But the real reason he’s here is for his ability to win even with seemingly inferior talent. The guy is as smart and tough as they come. Runner up: Mike McCarthy (Packers)