2022 preseason All-NFC North Team: Aaron Rodgers, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook headline division

We’ve been using this space of late to unveil our preseason All-Division teams, as is our annual tradition around this time of year. As always, the rosters were compiled largely by a panel of one, although there was significant input from the writing and editorial staff at CBSSports.com after I took an initial run at the rosters on my own.

We started last week by working our way through the AFC. Here are the rosters for the AFC East, AFC North, AFC Southand AFC West. This week, it’s on to the NFC. We started Tuesday with the NFC East, continue today with the NFC North, and finish the rest of the conference throughout this week. Without further ado …

Offensive skill positions

QB: Aaron Rodgers (GB)

RB: Dalvin Cook (MIN)

WR: Justin Jefferson (MIN), Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET), Adam Thielen (MIN)

TE: TJ Hockenson (DET)

FLEX: Aaron Jones (GB)

Unless he decides after drinking ayahuasca to retire before it begins, Rodgers is extremely likely to be the most effective quarterback in the NFC North this season — even without Davante Adams. Choosing between Cook, Jones, AJ Dillon, and D’Andre Swift was difficult. In the end, we went with the pair of players who have already proven themselves to be top-flight, all-around backs. Dillon could eat into some of Jones’ rushing workload this season, but Jones might be the one Packers‘ primary pass catcher. Cook might have an even stronger hold on Minnesota’s backfield, as well Vikings were reportedly looking into trading Alexander Mattison and don’t seem likely to retain him beyond this year.

Jefferson is already among the small handful of best receivers in the NFL, and he should only get better as the Vikings move to a more pass-friendly offense. Thielen remains an underrated contributor, although if this division were not so low on high-end receiving talent, he might be less of an obvious choice for this type of roster. St. Brown, meanwhile, really came on down the stretch of his rookie season. You need a lot of talent to earn double-digit goals in six consecutive games. Hockenson almost gets the tight end spot by default here, as none of the other tight ends in this division have yet shown his floor or ceiling to date.

Offensive line

OT: David Bakhtiari (GB), Penei Sewell (DET)

G: Jonah Jackson (DET), Jon Runyan (GB)

C: Frank Ragnow (DET)

When healthy, Bakhtiari remains among the NFL’s premier left tackles. He missed all but one game last season but has come off the PUP list and is back in practice. We’re betting on him returning to form. Sewell looked pretty good in his transition to the right side of the offensive line last year, and given his pedigree we think it’s likely that he takes a step forward in Year 2.

Jackson has been a great find for the Lions as a third-round pick, starting 32 of 33 possible games and emerging as a Pro Bowler last year. Runyan looked like a quality starter on the interior himself, and playing next to Bakhtiari should raise his game. Ragnow was limited to only four games last season due to injury, but when he’s on the field, he’s a very good center anchoring one of the league’s more underrated offensive lines.

Defensive front

EDGE: Rashan Gary (GB), Robert Quinn (CHI)

IDL: Kenny Clark (GB), Dalvin Tomlinson (MIN)

LB: Eric Kendricks (MIN), De’Vondre Campbell (GB)

Gary has become one of the NFL’s most effective edge rushers. He nearly got to double-digit sacks last year (9.5) and should get over the hump this season. Quinn bounced back from a down season by jumping all the way back up to 18.5 sacks a year ago. He’s in a different system this season, but new head coach Matt Eberflus knows how to put players in a position to succeed. There’s a lack of talent around him, but we’re betting Quinn can still be effective. (Danielle Hunter obviously has an excellent argument for the second edge slot, but he’s coming off an entire missed season.)

Clark got back to the Pro Bowl last season, and should remain an anchor up front for what should be one of the league’s best defenses. The rest of the defensive interior talent in this division is nowhere near as good as Clark, but Tomlinson is probably the best of the rest.

Kendricks will have a bit of a different role in Ed Donatell’s defense than he did in Mike Zimmer’s, but he’s so good in so many different ways that he should be able to easily make the transition to the new scheme. And Campbell finally tapped into his considerable skill set last year upon moving to Green Bay. He should only improve in his second season in the system.

Defensive backfield

CB: Jaire Alexander (GB), Eric Stokes (GB), Jaylon Johnson (CHI)

SAF: Adrian Amos (GB), Darnell Savage (GB)

FLEX: Harrison Smith (MIN)

Alexander is one of the NFL’s best corners, and he leads what is arguably the best five-man secondary in the league. He and Stokes give Green Bay one of the best one-two punches on the outside, and Amos and Savage have things covered on the back end with their versatility and ability to make plays in space. Johnson emerged as a very strong coverage man last season, and we’re betting on his continued progress. Smith, meanwhile, is still an excellent safety both inside and outside the box.

Specialists

K: Greg Joseph (MIN)

Q: Jack Fox (DET)

RET: Kene Nwangwu (MIN)O

I won’t lie … I asked our resident kicking expert (John Breech) who he thinks are the best kickers and punters in each division, and copied/pasted those names onto each All-Division team. Nwangwu returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last season and averaged over 30 yards per kick return. He’s extremely explosive.

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