Around the NFC North: 3 non-Packers ready to make the leap

In a perfect world, a handful of second-year players on the Green Bay Packers roster will follow-up promising rookie seasons by establishing themselves as good to great players in 2015. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Davante Adams and Cory Linsley are three Packers poised to make that transition.

But what about the rest of the NFC North? Unfortunately, the Packers aren’t the only team with talented young players. Here are three second-year players who could become problems for the Packers in 2015.

Teddy Bridgewater
The Vikings second-year quarterback is probably the most obvious selection here, so let’s cover him first. I could never figure out why Bridgewater fell so far in the draft. In a league where QBs like Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford command $100 million contracts, how can teams let a player like Bridgewater fall to the end of the first round?

Anyway, when Bridgewater took over last season, he showed why he might have been the steal of the draft. He completed 70 percent of his passes in each of his last four games and showed the mental makeup and intangibles of a five-year veteran. In 2015, Bridgewater should have Adrian Peterson, coming off a “bye” season, for a full year as well. Uh-oh.

Anthony Barr
Before his season was cut short by an injury, Barr racked up 70 tackles, four sacks, and a fumble return for a touchdown in overtime against Tampa Bay. In addition to having the perfect combination of size and speed to dominate a game, Barr is paired with one of the best defensive minds in the NFL in head coach Mike Zimmer.

As a defensive coordinator, Zimmer’s players rarely regressed. If that track record of developing defensive players holds up in Zimmer’s role as a head coach, Barr will be scary good.

Marquess Wilson, WR, Chicago
I’m going to cheat a bit and highlight Wilson even though he’s a third-year player. After showing flashes during his rookie season, Wilson broke his clavicle last training camp and never got on track. Some say Wilson could be on the roster bubble since he was drafted by the previous Bears’ management team. I say nonsense.

Wilson is 6-foot-4 and should get an opportunity to show what he can do now that Brandon Marshall is gone. If I’m right about Wilson, that’ll give the Bears three receivers (Alshon Jeffry, rookie Kevin White and Wilson) 6-foot-3 or taller. Combine those wideouts with 6-foot-6 TE Martellus Bennett and the Bears receiving corp will be tough to deal with, even for a Packers secondary with a basketball-playing background.

Let’s throw in a bonus category: Wild-card second-year player who could break out:

David Fales, QB, Chicago
What if John Fox and the Bears new coaching staff see Jay Cutler throw one too many backbreaking interceptions and find him a seat on the bench?

Fales would likely be Cutler’s replacement. Coming into a situation with Jeffry, White, Wilson and Bennett as your targets and Matt Forte in the backgroun isn’t a bad situation to come into. I’m not predicting we’ll see Fales play and play well in 2015, but stranger things have happened.

Here’s another bonus category: Second-year NFC North player who worries me the least:

Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit
He only caught 25 passes in his rookie campaign and dropped four. I don’t see Ebron as having the route-running skills to be an effective outside receiving threat and he’s not tough enough or sure-handed enough to consistently be a threat inside.


Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .


22 thoughts on “Around the NFC North: 3 non-Packers ready to make the leap

    1. Unless TT and not MM is on the field in charge,he had no part of the game management,missed calls on defense,SPT’s or the tranquilizing of the offense that led to the outcome before our very eyes.

      TT has the tools for the job hired to do and although some may disagree with the path or selections made in regard to players and while I even rant about missed SB opportunities and Division titles cannot be enough,being at least in contention as often under him cannot go unrewarded especially to the low levels you aspire to place him. 🙂

      1. Taryn, I am reading what you say and what Big T said. I know Ted, Teddy, Teddy T, Big T, Big Tee, Teddy Tee, Teddy B Teddy Bee etc are very popular name these days but I have a inking there’s some type of mixup going on here with the Ted name. I might be wrong but it appears Big T could be referring to Teddy B or Teddy Bridgewater not Teddy Thompson. By the way I wonder if the T in Big T stands for Big Ted?

          1. No need to apologize Taryn. It was actually kind of funny and an honest mistake. Can’t blame you since Big T has been nonstop attacking Teddy (Thompson) since I’ve been here.

              1. ok Big T. You are an stop and go TT attacker. Not nonstop. My apologies.

              2. Better to be a “stop and go TT attacker” whose occasional criticism of TT is reasoned than an incessant sycophant who believes that TT walks on water only because he once saw him walk through a parking lot puddle at Lambeau.

              3. Nemo,
                While it’s true Ted has not been able to part the Bay of Green Bay, I really did witness him walk over water at Lambeau. It wasn’t just a little puddle either. It was a large mass of water after a rain shower cutting the outdoor practice session short. He was wearing a pair of Nike Air Force Ones green and yellow. I remember it like it was yesterday.I saw others walk thru the same water and their shoes were soaked. Ted walked thru the same body of water and was drip dry. I shit you not. I’m telling you and everyone else willing to listen that there’s something holy about this man. I know there were others that witnessed it next to me. Anyone out there that remembers or saw it please chime in.

              4. Thank-you for your clarification. With your permission, I will modify my above comment to read “. . . a delusional incessant sycophant who . . . etc., etc.”

              5. Fine Nemo, don’t believe me. You are a TT nonbeliever. May your nikes have soggy insoles.

              6. And may your green and gold cheerleader’s pom-poms turn Viking purple overnight.

    2. I beg your acceptance of my apology as I clearly and simply allowed a bias to dictate what I read not being what was written.

  1. I agree with a lot of those guys Adam. Barr is a damn good football player. I don’t even know what year he’s considered anymore but as much as it pains me to say it I have a feeling MN has a superstar WR in Charles Johnson as well. Teddy (not the Packers Teddy) always looks to him first no matter what. They have great rapport and it’s only going to get better this season.

    1. What’s worse is that Barr’s college teammate, Eric Kendricks, is now a Viking too. Vikings could end up having two of the NFL’s best LBs for quite awhile.

      1. Yeah, the Vikings have done well the past couple seasons drafting. Not surprised as all they do is steal and copy everything the Packers do. At least they are smart enough to realize Ted Thompson’s way is the correct way. They might have done well drafting but so has Ted plus he has Aaron Rodgers. That’s the difference when it’s all said and done. Nobody is better than Rodgers.

  2. The Vikings scare me the most going forward. I think that they have drafted very well these last couple of years and they now have a coaching staff that can train the talent. If Bridgewater is the real deal and if Peterson comes back, we will be battling them for the top spot. Chicago has a ways to go and Detroit lost enough this off-season to drop them back.

    1. Plus with Chicago and Detroit, you can always rely on Cutler and Stafford to fall on their faces during big moments. We’re not sure what Bridgewater will do in big moments. He seems to have the tools to not fall flat like Cutler and Stafford. If that’s the case, watch out for the Queens.

  3. Has anyone invested more in the TE position the last several years than the Lions? Brandon Pettigrew was a top 20 pick and Ebron a top 10…. What has it gotten them? Above average play at a non-premium position. Maybe they should go back to taking WR in 1st round every time.

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