Front to Back Part 1: The D-Line in the NFC North

Posted by  Brady Augustine   in  , ,      1 year ago     114 Views     1 Comment  

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Green Bay Packers' Mike Daniels celebrates after a sack of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The game ended in a tie, 26-26. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps) ORG XMIT: WIMG133

Green Bay Packers’ Mike Daniels celebrates after a sack of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The game ended in a tie, 26-26. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps) ORG XMIT: WIMG133

The Packers’ defense held the line for an offense that sputtered in 2015. This year’s draft was defense heavy again and with a lot of offensive players coming back healthy, the Packers are primed for a strong 2016 campaign. But how does the team stack up against NFC North rivals, particularly in light of the recent draft? Let’s go front to back and compare, starting with the defensive line. The Packers went defensive line in the first round of the 2016 draft, partially filling the void left by big ole BJ Raji. Kenny Clark will be pressed into immediate service and hopefully down the road will add to a defensive rotation that Dom Capers counts on as the starting point of his 3-4 base defense. Clark shows some ability as a pass rusher as well and could be a fantastic complement to Mike Daniels, recently signed to a new contract and named in the top 100 (95) of players overall in the NFL.




This was an important acquisition for the Packers with Mike Pennel’s suspension but it is also important in the division race, which is goal one for the Packers…take back the North. The Chicago Bears began to address their offensive line problems by drafting Cody Whitehair (G) in the second round. Whitehair looks to be a starting guard on a Bears team that gave up 34 sacks in 2015. The Packers’ selection of Clark could make for a marquis match-up between the two first draft picks if Clark produces in the middle and wins a starting spot. The Packers take on the Bears in week six, so we will keep our eyes on that battle.

Perhaps the most desperate team in the NFC North was the Detroit Lions, who in the last couple years have lost both N’Damukong Suh and Calvin Johnson. The Lions now know that their ability to score depends on the running game and Matthew Stafford and they drafted three offensive line-men and a developmental quarterback in this year’s draft. OT Taylor Decker, C Graham Glasgow, and OL Joe Dahl will vie for spots protecting Stafford and it will be up to Mike Daniels, Clark, and the Packers’ defensive line to welcome them to the NFC North.

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The Packers know their interior line must be stout to hold up against the Vikings and Adrian Peterson. Peterson bounced back mightily from the lost 2014 season and said this week that he thinks he can play at a high level until he is 40. Whether that happens or not, the Vikings know that their running game is intact as long as Peterson is on the team. So this year they added two wide receivers, Laquon Treadwell and Moritz Boehringer (6th rd.) and also tight end David Morgan. Clearly, the Vikings want to give Teddy Bridgewater some help in a passing game that, if it develops, could make the Vikings offense one of the most potent in the division. As painful as it is to write, the Vikings are now the team to beat in the NFC North as the 2015 champions. The Packers defensive line is where it all begins and our opponents drafts show that they respect the Packers front. This year’s challenge will not be an easy one.




So around the division, teams are gearing up for a Packers defensive line that can be disruptive and has proved it does more than just take up blockers. The division as a whole got better after the draft, and while the Lions will likely not recover quickly from the loss of Johnson, they are clearly taking steps to keep themselves competitive by keeping Stafford’s jersey clean. The now Raji-less Packers will have a lot to prove this season, let’s hope they are up to the challenge. In my opinion, attitude is extremely important to a defense and I think Mike Daniels tutelage of Kenny Clark will be of the utmost importance and if we can continue to get mean in the trenches, we will see a very good defense this coming season.

Go Pack!

 

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Brady Augustine is co-owner and content creator for www.greenbaypackernation.com. He currently resides in Tennessee and also conspires with brother, JR on www.cheesnewswire.com

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