By: Dominic Choroski
With Free-Agency starting in two weeks and the draft following next month, it is a crucial time for NFL teams. Every front office is looking at their rosters and assessing what positions they can upgrade at. Here we will take a look at the teams in the NFC North and see what their biggest needs are ahead of Free-Agency and the draft, as well as possible options to fill the biggest needs.
The Bears have a championship-caliber defense lead by Khalil Mack, who might be the best defensive player in the league not named Aaron Donald. The same can not be said for the offense. No one wants to give up on a young quarterback, especially one you traded up and gave away an additional first-round pick for, but Mitchell Trubisky is not the answer. Trubisky has yet to show that he can be a franchise changer or even a starter. There is a large crop of veteran quarterbacks available in free agency this year. If Chicago wants to contend in a loaded NFC they better go grab one.
After parting ways with receiver Taylor Gabriel and lack-luster production from their tight-ends, it would be wise for Bears’ GM Ryan Pace to find a playmaker. Luckily this draft class is deeper at the receiver position than any other. The Bears should also look to upgrade the offensive line, regardless of who will be the quarterback next season.
Possible Addition: Draft Michigan Center Cesar Ruiz
Cornerback Darius Slay is set to become a free agent this offseason. Finding someone to replace one of the league’s best corners will not be easy, but it is something the Lions have to do. Other than Slay, there were three corners that saw significant playing time last year. Two of them, Justin Coleman and Rashaan Melvin, had multiple games giving up passer ratings above 100. The other was rookie Amani Oruwariye, who showed some promise but still has a ways to go in his development.
The Lions brought in Trey Flowers to help the pass rush, but it simply hasn’t been the same since Ziggy Ansah left Detroit in favor of Seattle last year. In a division with Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers having edge rushers is a must. Former first-round linebacker Jarrad Davis has left a lot to be desired, so the Lions could look to bring in a new face to run the defense.
Possible Addition: Draft Ohio State Cornerback Jeffrey Okudah
Green Bay Packers
The Packers went 13-3 last year, but they very easily could have been 9-7. As we all saw in the NFC Conference Championship the interior of the defensive line is incapable of stopping the run. Finding a run-stuffer has to be high on the Packers’ list, as I’m sure they are still seeing Raheem Mostert running in their nightmares. Also, the 49ers look more than poised to make another Superbowl run so the run defense better be up to par the next time these two teams see each other.
Rodgers finally has a running back in Aaron Jones. Meanwhile, Davante Adams is quietly one of the league’s premier receivers. The problem is there isn’t another consistent playmaker on the field to take the pressure off of those two. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both had two or three-game stretches of production but neither could do it on a game to game basis. Giving Rodgers another weapon could be the key to getting another Lombardi in Green Bay.
Possible Addition: Free-Agent Defensive Linemen Damon Harrison
The Vikings are one of the few teams with not many glaring needs. The roster is stacked with talent and depth at a multitude of positions. That means getting some help in the secondary is the most urgent need. The Vikings need some corners that can take advantage of the dominant defensive front and create takeaways. Xavier Rhodes, once looked at as a top defender, allowed an 84% completion rate last year and will likely be cut this offseason. Expect the Vikings to nab a corner in the draft and free agency.
Keeping Kirk Cousins upright is another concern for Minnesota. The interior of the offensive line needs some tweaking to help in pass protection. In addition, while Stefon Diggs and Adam Theilen make up a fearsome duo, Theilen has an injury history. Bringing in another pass-catcher for depth would be a smart move in case of an injury.
Possible Addition: Free-Agent Cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
If you want to see the team needs for the AFC North click here.