Top three offseason needs for every NFC North team
Now that the NFL season is officially over, teams are turning their attention to how they can get better in the offseason. Teams will be looking to file the holes that plagued them during the 18-19 NFL season through trades, free agency and the NFL Draft. We still have a little bit of time before we can truly speculate which available players will go where, so instead we’re going to look at which positions each NFL team needs to fill.
We’re going to go through every NFL team by division, starting with the NFC North. Let’s take a look at the top three offseason needs for the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
NFC North offseason needs
The Chicago Bears finished the 2018 season 12-4, winning the NFC North. However, due to a loss to the Eagles in the Wild Card round, which can be accredited to inexperience, the Bears were not able to make a playoff run. The Bears had a top three defense, some would say the best. However, their offense was not as good. The Bears will likely look to renovate their offense this offseason.
1. Wide Receiver
The Bears do not have many playmakers on their offense. Mitchell Trubisky is a young, developing quarterback who could use all the help he can get. While the Bears do have a solid run game, they need an elite pass catcher who can threaten defensive backs. The Bears did not have one 1000+ yard or 8+ touchdown receiver this season. To make matters worse, RB Tarik Cohen had the most catches on their team. If the Bears can acquire a receiver for Trubisky, they can be a real threat on the offensive side of the ball. They made improvements from Trubisky’s rookie season to his second, but they still need more.
Most of us know the Bears missed a 43-yard field goal to eliminate them from the playoffs. On top of that, the kicking was bad all year. Cody Parkey and the Bears finished 27th in the NFL in field goal percentage and 24th in the NFL in extra point percentage. Cody Parkey, who missed seven field goals this year and only had a long of 50 yards, does not seem to be the option in Chicago. He certainly does not have the love of the fans. An upgrade at the kicker position is plausible for the Chicago Bears.
3. Offensive Tackle
The Bears had the 11th best offensive line this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and they will want to only get better. Their right tackle, Bobbie Massie, was just re-signed to a four year deal. However, you can never have enough offensive line protection. For QB Mitch Trubisky to continue his growth, the Bears need to strengthen their offensive line as much as possible. Even if their new offensive tackle is just a swing tackle, it’s still a much needed position for a team with a young QB who needs protection. Seeing as the defense was the focus of the team last season, the offense needs to get stronger so this team can truly dominate.
The Detroit Lions have been the epitome of an average football team over the last few years. They seem to fluctuate between 6-10 and 10-6 every season. The Lions finished the 2018 season 6-10 and were fourth in the NFC North. The NFC North seems to be one of the hardest divisions in football, and the Lions seem to be only a few pieces away from being a contender.
The Lions have an All-Pro cornerback in Darius Slay, but he could use some help. The Lions ranked 31st in the NFL in pass breakups and T-29th (Packers and Cardinals) in the NFL in interceptions. They could use a talented cornerback to pair with Slay to benefit their secondary. I expect the Lions to target a cornerback in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
2. Tight End
The Lions have got very little pass-catching ability out of their tight ends in the 2018 season. While their tight ends were great blockers, the Lions could use a pass-catcher to fill the void Eric Ebron left. I expect the Lions to target a tight end sometime in the NFL Draft.
3. Defensive End
The Lions provided ample pressure in the pass rush, ranking 11th in the NFL in sacks. However, there’s a good chance starting defensive end, Ezekiel Ansah, will not return for the Lions. To help fill that void and improve the pass rush, it’s likely the Lions will target an EDGE defender in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers entered the 2018 season with very high expectations from fans and analysts. However, the Packers were not able to meet expectations. The Packers finished 6-9-1, third in the NFC North. For the Packers to compete with the other teams in the division in 2019, the Packers will have to make some key changes to their roster. It’s likely these changes will be focused on getting Rodgers offensive tools, but they also need some help defensively.
The Packers’ pass defense has been bad for some time. They ranked 25th in the NFL in passes defended and T-29th (Lions and Cardinals) in interceptions. To add on to their pass coverage woes, the Packers traded former Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Redskins during the regular season. They are left with holes at the safety position. It is likely the Packers will try to fill this hole during the draft.
2. Wide Receiver
Aaron Rodgers is an elite quarterback who needs to be surrounded by the elite talent he deserves. Rodgers already has an elite wide receiver in Davante Adams, but adding an additional wide receiver would help Rodgers out tremendously. Rodgers probably wants to go back to the days where he had a prime Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. However, this can happen again with a younger generation if the Packers are able to acquire an elite receiver through the NFL Draft. There’s also a guy by the name of Antonio Brown out there. Could he be a target for the Packers?
3. Outside Linebacker
Clay Matthews might be leaving this offseason, so the Packers will need a younger, more athletic player to fill his spot. Clay Matthews has been a game changer for the Packers over the last few years, but is now getting up in age (32). The Packers should look to get an elite outside linebacker if they want to successfully fill Matthew’s spot.
The Vikings seemed to have a playmaker at every position this year, besides on the offensive line. Even though the Vikings had many stars, they were not able to put it all together. The Vikings finished the season 8-7-1 and barely missed the playoffs, being the 7th seed in the NFC and second in the NFC North. The Vikings are very close to putting it all together and becoming an elite team.
1. Offensive Tackle
The Vikings’ offensive line was atrocious in 2018. They were the 29th graded offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus. The lack of decent line play held the Vikings back from making a playoff run, or even making the playoffs. The Vikings have one solid offensive lineman in Riley Reiff. Besides him, it seems the rest of the pieces can be moved around. The Vikings will look to prioritize on the offensive line this season so they can protect their $84 million man, Kirk Cousins.
2. Offensive Guard
To protect Kirk Cousins, they can not allow him to get sacked or pressured very often. The interior offensive line for the Vikings did not do a great job of doing this. The interior offensive line alone allowed 18 sacks in the 2018 season. The Colts’ entire line allowed 18 sacks. The Vikings will need to revamp their guard position if they want make an improvement in the passing game. Improving the interior offensive line will also benefit the running game. Expect the Vikings to go after this position heavily this offseason.
3. Defensive Line
Sheldon Richardson is going back to free agency this season, and Everson Griffen may be a cap causality for the Minnesota Vikings. If the Vikings are not able to retract both of these starters, they will look to fill the hole on their defensive line. If the Vikings are able to keep one or both players, depth will also be needed to help the defensive line rotation.