Position Rankings for Each NFC North Team Heading into the 2023 Season: Offense

Why Has the Vikings Pass Defense Faltered Lately?
Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warm up before the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Teams across the NFL have begun reporting to training camp, including the Vikings, who had rookies show up on Sunday.

As the 2023 NFL season continues to inch closer, over on our sister-site, PurplePTSD.com, we’ve been putting together position rankings for each NFC North team. This past week, we wrapped up the full rankings for each of the positions on the offensive side of the ball, so today, we’ve compiled them all into a super-cut version. Take a look at how each team stacks up at QB, RB, WR, TE, OT, and IOL down below.


NFC North
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball against the New York Giants during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

1. Minnesota Vikings

Maybe by the end of the year growth from Justin Fields or Jordan Love can make this more of a competition, but for now, Kirk Cousins is the best starter in the division. He’s passed for 25+ touchdown passes in each of his eight years as a starter, and while he may not be a truly elite passer, he’s still a consistent player who we know what we will get out of on a week-to-week basis.

Additionally, Nick Mullens is a quality backup whose 17 starts are easily the most of any backup in the division. The team success hasn’t always been there when Mullens gets on the field, but he certainly has shown flashes of his potential as a passer. Jaren Hall, while a project, could turn out to be a steal out of the fifth-round as well.

2. Detroit Lions

Similarly to Cousins, if we want to value consistency as a passer, the Detroit Lions with Jared Goff have to come in at No. 2 here. Despite a tough stretch in 2020 and 2021, Goff has otherwise been rather successful as a QB.

Goff may not quite be living up to that No. 1 overall draft pick status, but in four of his six seasons as a full-time starter, he’s passed for 4000+ yards and 20+ TDs. With the wide receiver group around him in Detroit, this season should result in a similar stat line.

That being said, the backup situation heading into 2023 is less than ideal. Nate Sudfeld has yet to start a game over his six-year career while both Hendon Hooker and Adrian Martinez are rookies. It would be very surprising to see Martinez stick around past training camp, and with Hooker’s ACL tear late in the 2022 college season, it’s hard to see a scenario where he is ready to go right away this year. If Goff were to miss any time, things could get ugly quickly at the QB position.

3. Chicago Bears

Say what you will about Justin Fields and his passing ability, but his capabilities as a runner open things up for the Chicago Bears offense. 2023 also looks like the first season where he will have a legit group of pass catchers around him following a trade for D.J. Moore this offseason as well as the selection of Tyler Scott in the draft.

Chicago also has a couple backups that could offer some emergency services if Fields were to miss any time. P.J. Walker is a gunslinger in the pocket, and while he isn’t always the most accurate player in the world, he has some familiarity with D.J. Moore from their time together in Carolina. Nathan Peterman doesn’t evoke much confidence as a passer, but again, at least he has some semblance of playing experience at the NFL level.

4. Green Bay Packers

2023 might be the first time that we can actually say this is the case in the entire history of the NFC North: the Green Bay Packers have the worst QB room in the division after trading Aaron Rodgers. Jordan Love certainly has some talent as a passer, as displayed in his limited playing time, but he still has only started one game over the course of his first three NFL seasons.

Additionally, Green Bay’s backup situation is less than ideal. Danny Etling has never appeared in a game throughout his five years in the NFL, and Sean Clifford is probably more of a Taysom Hill “gadget” player rather than a true QB. Again, there are already questions about whether or not Love can help the Packers win games, but if he were to miss any time at all, Green Bay’s season could be over.

Running Back

Jan 22, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and running back Aaron Jones (33) in action against the San Francisco 49ers during a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

1. Green Bay Packers

The Packers are the one unit in the division that remained completely intact at the running back spot. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon combined for nearly 2500 yards of production last year as rushers and receivers out of the backfield in 2022.

With Dillon entering a contract year in 2023, he should be extra motivated to put together a strong campaign before convincing either the Packers or another team to hand him a lucrative contract next offseason.

2. Detroit Lions

The 12th overall pick may have been a very high pick to use on Jahmyr Gibbs, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is an extremely talented player. The Alabama product has explosive speed, and while he is on the smaller side, he can be a very shifty runner, making it difficult to bring him down. He also caught 35+ passes in each of the past two CFB seasons, so that will certainly be an element that Detroit explores.

This makes him the perfect complement to David Montgomery, who Detroit added via free agency this offseason. The veteran has been forced to be a pass-catcher at times in Chicago, but he never truly thrived in that role, so now, he can focus on bowling over defenders with his 225-pound frame. Minnesota fans will know that Mo Ibrahim cannot be slept on, either.

3. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings RB room would be at the top of the division if we did this list about a month ago, but now that Dalvin Cook is no longer around, that leaves the team without a proven starter on the roster. Perhaps even more importantly, it means that their RB2 will be a player that has never surpassed 17 touches in a single NFL season.

That being said, this isn’t a bad group of rushers by any means. Alexander Mattison is still a quality player with an underrated receiving skill, and Ty Chandler was a prolific running back during his collegiate career, averaging six yards per carry during his only year at North Carolina in 2022. Expect those two to be the main names answering the call in 2023 for Minnesota.

4. Chicago Bears

I know, fans of any other team in the NFC North are probably thinking, “but isn’t Justin Fields a running back?” The Bears QB certainly has proven to be a better runner than passer during his first two NFL seasons, rushing for 1143 yards and 8 TDs in 2022, and he may have to continue doing so in 2023 because Chicago’s RB room doesn’t exactly look outstanding for this season.

The team obviously lost David Montgomery, taking away their main bell cow from the group, but they are likely hoping that the combination of D’Onta Foreman and third-round pick Roschon Johnson can take over the reins this year.

Foreman has hit his stride over the past two seasons, but it may be tough to replicate the success he had in Carolina behind this Bears offensive line. Meanwhile, Johnson has virtually the same build as Montgomery, but again, he’s been playing behind Bijan Robinson and hasn’t surpassed 100 carries in a season since 2019. There is a route towards success for Chicago, but these two players will need to step up in a big way to make it happen.

Wide Receiver

Grading the Vikings Position Groups: Offense
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

1. Minnesota Vikings

Having Justin Jefferson in the wide receiver room is a big reason why the Vikings land this No. 1 spot. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year has surpassed all expectations over his first three NFL seasons and led the league in both receptions and receiving yards during the 2022 season.

While the loss of Adam Thielen may be a blow to the room, the combination of Jordan Addison and K.J. Osborn should lessen the impact of his absence on the offense. Additionally, Jalen Nailor has come on strong as a potential deep-threat at the position. Kirk Cousins has plenty of weapons to throw to this year.

2. Detroit Lions

The Lions have a budding star in Amon-Ra St. Brown at the wide receiver position, with 90+ receptions in each of his first two NFL seasons. If Jameson Williams can come back from his six-game suspension and look like the player that was a superstar at Alabama, Detroit has a strong one-two punch at the position. In the meantime, Marvin Jones isn’t a bad person to fill in.

Kalif Raymond has turned into a solid WR3 type player during his first two years with the Lions as well, surpassing 45 catches and 500 yards in each of the 2021 and 2022 seasons. However, until one of these young players opposite St. Brown truly turns into a 1000-yard player, they are second fiddle to the Vikings group.

3. Green Bay Packers

The Packers lost both Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb from their WR room this offseason as each of them followed Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets. This is a big blow to their veteran presence in the room, thus causing them to drop this year.

However, there are intriguing young pieces in place in Green Bay as well. Christian Watson came on strong during the second half of the 2022 season, putting together eight touchdowns during a four-game stretch between Weeks 10-13. Romeo Doubs also had an impressive rookie campaign, catching 42 passes for 425 yards and 3 TDs.

4. Chicago Bears

The Bears made moves to get better at the wide receiver position this year, including a trade to acquire D.J. Moore and the draft selection of Tyler Scott. However, it still feels like this is a team with a lot of fringe WR2/3 type players without any sort of bonafide leader in the group.

Chicago was clearly hoping to get that type of player in Chase Claypool when they traded their 2023 second-round pick to acquire him from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that simply hasn’t worked out to this point. The Bears have a path to get out of the basement of the division, but it will take massive steps from just about everyone in that room.

Tight End

NFL: New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) makes a catch for a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

1. Minnesota Vikings

Gone are the days of 2021 and 2022 where the Vikings are unsure of what they will have at the tight end position when the season begins. At the trade deadline in 2022, Minnesota made a huge trade to acquire T.J. Hockenson from the Detroit Lions, stealing a star from their division rivals.

Adding Josh Oliver to the group this free agency only makes the room stronger. With the Baltimore Ravens, Oliver emerged as one of the better blocking tight ends in the entire league, and he will absolutely be in the mix to catch some passes in the Vikings offense as well. Unless injury strikes, Minnesota has the best tight end group in the division.

2. Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers made the interesting choice to use a pair of premium selections on tight ends in this spring’s draft, but as a result, they certainly improved the group. Considering the fact that they love to run two-TE sets on offense as well, Matt LaFleur will find plenty of chances for both Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft this season.

The duo should complement each other very well too, with Musgrave being a smooth runner and pass catcher while Kraft is a bit more burly and adept as a blocker. Regardless, good luck to any linebacker that is forced to match up on either of them this fall.

3. Chicago Bears

Chicago may begin the bottom half of these rankings, but don’t consider their tight room as one of the below-average groups in the league. Cole Kmet emerged as a red zone favorite for Justin Fields last season, catching 7 TD passes in 2022, easily a career-high for the tight end.

In addition, the Bears opted to sign Robert Tonyan in free agency. While he hasn’t quite been able to recreate the magic that was his 2020 season (586 receiving yards, 11 TDs), he was a steady producer for the Packers in 2022, catching at least three passes in 11 of 17 games last year.

4. Detroit Lions

Detroit’s production out of the tight end spot largely rests on how Sam LaPorta can translate his skillset to the NFL level. While at Iowa, the tight end put together back-to-back seasons of 50+ receptions and 600+ receiving yards in 2021 and 2022, but he was very rarely a threat down by the goal line, only recording 5 touchdowns over his four-year career for the Hawkeyes.

Detroit got some decent receiving out of Brock Wright last year, though, so he is a nice secondary option to have, and Shane Zylstra can serve as a run-blocker for newly signed David Montgomery. The Lions don’t have a true home run hitter at the position right now, but they have decent depth all the way down to TE3/4.

Offensive Tackle

NFC North
Sep 18, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell (58) shakes hands with linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (44) as he takes the field for offensive play against the Washington Commanders during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports

1. Detroit Lions

There is an argument to be made that the Detroit Lions not only have the best offensive line in the NFC North but in the entire NFL, largely due to their superb tackle duo of Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. The duo combined to allow just six sacks last season, per PFF, while each playing over 660 pass-blocking snaps.

The two of them have done terrific work in pass-blocking over the past couple seasons for Detroit, and considering neither of them have reached the age of 30 yet (Decker turns 30 in August), the dominance should continue for years to come.

2. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota takes over the No. 2 spot on this list largely because of the emergence of Christian Darrisaw during the 2022 season. The Vikings second-year left tackle earned the third-highest PFF grade among all offensive linemen last season, grading out at 90.4. The only offensive tackle ahead of him was Trent Williams, who earned a 91.7.

That being said, health remains a bit of a question mark with the tackle duo of Darrisaw and Brian O’Neil heading into 2023. Darrisaw missed three games with concussion problems in 2022, and O’Neill suffered a partially torn Achilles back in January against the Green Bay Packers. If they remain healthy for the full season, the duo could threaten Detroit for the No. 1 spot, but until then, they are a strong No. 2.

3. Green Bay Packers

Again, talent-wise, David Bakhtiari is about as good as it gets at the left tackle spot. However, health has simply not been on the Packers left tackle’s side in recent years. The 2x first-team All-Pro left tackle has played just 24 games since the start of 2020, largely due to knee problems that have plagued him over the past few years.

While Bakhtiari’s talent has been among the best in the league, Green Bay sees a bit of a drop-off in that department with Yosh Nijman, who graded out at just 63.1 by PFF’s metrics. He’s certainly serviceable at the right tackle spot, but it just doesn’t compare to O’Neill and Sewell.

4. Chicago Bears

There is a decent chance that Chicago’s offensive tackles could finish the season as an above-average group in 2023 and still be last in the division. That’s how good some of the tackles in the NFC North are right now. Darnell Wright was selected with the 10th overall pick, and given the Bears struggles at that right tackle spot over the past few years, he should be a plug-and-play guy at that spot in 2023.

Meanwhile, Braxton Jones was a surprise starter in 2022, starting all 17 games for Chicago during his rookie season after being selected in the fifth round of the 2022 Draft. Assuming he remains at the left tackle spot, this gives the Bears a very promising young tackle duo to build around.

Interior Offensive Line

Sep 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions offense lines up against the Philadelphia Eagles during first half action at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirthmon F. Dozier-USA TODAY Sports

1. Detroit Lions

There really is no debate as to who has the best interior offensive line and best entire offensive line in this division. The Detroit Lions feature studs up and down this unit, but their interior, featuring Frank Ragnow at center, is one of the best groups in the entire league.

After missing the 2022 season with a back injury, Halapoulivaati Vaitai should be ready to back into the right guard spot this year, and while Jonah Jackson has improvements to make as a pass blocker, that is the one weakness on this o-line right now as long as everyone can stay healthy.

2. Green Bay Packers

The Packers used a second-round pick in 2021 on center Josh Myers, and he finally got a full season as a starter under his belt in 2022. He proved to be worth every bit of that draft selection, thriving as a pass-blocker in the middle of Green Bay’s offensive line. He was given a 74.3 grade by Pro Football Focus.

While Myers still has plenty of room to grow as a run blocker (grading out at a measly 53.5 last year in that department), the Packers have other players on their o-line that are plenty capable in that area. This includes the very versatile guard Elgton Jenkins, who split time at left guard and right tackle during the 2022 season after playing nearly 500 snaps at left tackle in 2021.

3. Chicago Bears

The Bears did not have an overpowering offensive line in 2022, and they dealt out huge money in the hopes of changing that this year. Nate Davis signed a three-year contract with the team worth $30 million after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans at right guard.

Cody Whitehair has been a consistent center for Chicago as well, grading out at 65.0 or higher in six of his seven NFL seasons, per PFF. The one year he was lower than that was 2019 when he ended up at 64.9. Teven Jenkins has seen limited playing time at guard over his first two NFL seasons, but he looks to take over a starting job this year next to Davis and Whitehair.

4. Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings don’t have a bad interior offensive line, per se, but it needs to show more signs of growth in 2023. Ezra Cleveland is a serviceable left guard, but now he is entering a contract year and must prove to the Vikings that he is worth keeping around for the long term. Garrett Bradbury recently landed a three-year deal to stay in Minnesota, but he has had his own ups and downs, particularly in pass protection.

The biggest question mark right now is Ed Ingram at right guard. His pass-blocking grade of 42.6 in 2022 simply isn’t good enough, especially in a Kevin O’Connell offense that emphasizes moving the football through the air. Minnesota’s path towards exiting the cellar of the division is through the growth of their 2022 second-round pick.

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on PurplePTSD.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.