2014 Depth Charts Update: NFC North

The NFC North gets a second pass as we update the 2014 depth charts.

| 3 years ago

2014 Depth Charts Update: NFC North

2014-depth-charts-update-NFCNOne of the things we wanted to do with the depth chart series was keep them updated and in most respects this article is about that – reminding you that we’ll be keeping things relevant until at least the season starts.

However, as we published the series and listened to your comments, something else became apparent. Beyond the section of fans who think half their starters are “elite” and for whom there is very little hope of cure, there were other groups too.

Firstly there are those who felt we see our own grades as absolutely definitive – that we believe they are carved on tablets of stone and the last word in player performance. Now while we are certainly proud of our work and think they are the most accurate view available (as the only people anywhere to watch and grade every player on every facet of play they really should be) they are far from perfect.

So on another level we wanted to let readers know that not only may you disagree with our ratings but internally we have a lot of debates too. If there are 20 players in a particular category, by its very nature, some are at the top and some the bottom and as such are also often a hair away from being in the adjacent group/s. We wanted everyone to understand from the debate points below just how narrow some of these bands are.

Finally these updates are also for another set of people; those who took the time to make well-argued points in the comments section for each team. I read every single one and found myself agreeing with many. This is also about addressing those concerns; those of the readers who like us have no vested interest other than in getting it “right”.

Our process now will be to take one division at a time and debate among our analysts where we need change. Below are the results for the fourth division up; the NFC North.


Chicago Bears

32-lineups-CHI– Considering his play in recent years, we opted to up new addition Brian De La Puente up to “Good Starter”. Adding in the playoffs his overall grade last year was +8.3, and considering he was our fourth-highest-graded center in 2012 it only seemed right to move him up. An interesting battle with Roberto Garza awaits.

– We removed Domenik Hixon and Israel Idonije from the roster following their recent releases, and added Armanti Edwards and Michael Spurlock who’ll compete for time at the back end of the receiving group.

– After comments received below the Bears’ original depth chart, we moved Marquess Wilson into the third receiver spot, something which was made even more obvious after Hixon’s injury and release.

See the updated depth chart: Chicago Bears


Detroit Lions

32-lineups-DET– One of the more interesting debates we had was around new wide receiver Golden Tate. The feeling was that he has played well enough to be moved to “High Quality” but that unlike some of the guys in that category, he’s not knocking on the door of “Elite”. Good with the ball in his hands, as highlighted by his 24 missed tackles forced last season, he finally gives the Lions a viable option along with Calvin Johnson.

– As someone correctly pointed out in the comments section, “Below Average” was harsh to Rob Sims. An average grade (+0.2) last year would have warranted it on his own, but when you consider that’s the lowest he has graded since 2008, it was clear that we had to move him up.

See the updated depth chart: Detroit Lions


Green Bay Packers

32-lineups-GB– With injury forcing him to retire last month, we removed Johnathan Franklin from the roster. A shame, too, as he flashed some serious potential in his first game in the league, forcing five missed tackles as a runner.

– As was pointed out in the comments, having Casey Hayward as “Good Starter” as opposed to “High Quality” was probably a little unfair. Injury limited him last year, but that 2012 season, with a coverage grade of +20.7 was something to behold.

– We felt that Tramon Williams and Sam Shields were too similar to have in different categories. That, coupled with the fact that Williams has had a positive grade in coverage every year since we began grading, prompted us to bump him up to “Good Starter”.

See the updated depth chart: Green Bay Packers


Minnesota Vikings

32-lineups-MIN– The feeling seems to be that Matt Cassel will start the year as the team’s starting quarterback so, while it’s only a matter of time before Teddy Bridgewater takes the helm, we’ve switched them about for now.

– Considering how they played in coverage in their last time as starters, we opted to switch Mistral Raymond (-2.1 last year) and Kurt Coleman (-7.7 in 2012) around. While neither are great players, there does seem to be a bit of a gap between the two.

– With just one missed field goal inside 50 yards last year, and a booming leg on kickoffs, we decided to move Blair Walsh up to “High Quality”, which seemed perfectly fair given his impressive rookie season in 2012 too.

See the updated depth chart: Minnesota Vikings


Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Chris

    Is Chris Houston still on the roster? I thought he was cut

  • Jason Pevitt

    Chris Houston was released over a week ago guys

  • Jeremy

    I find it interesting that the worst team in the division has the most players rated “good starter” or higher. I’m not saying the Vikings are devoid of talent, but listing them as the most talented roster with multiple good starters above the rest of the division is curious at best.

    • Jared

      It’s because they struggle at by far the most important position.

  • Xylan

    A couple notes about the depth chart:

    Others have already pointed out Chris Houston’s release.

    In addition, Ashlee Palmer is strong-side on the roster. He should be behind Van Noy, if you’re projecting Van Noy as the starter. Whitehead is primarily Tulloch’s back-up, but otherwise, he’s behind Levy.

    Could you explain Levy’s Average rating? Last year, he performed as a High Quality WLB. Even if you factor in the rest of his career, that would (in my mind) still put him as a Good starter.

    I’m also a little unclear on Jason Jones. The notes explained that based on Jones’ history, and the scheme he’s in, he shouldn’t be Below Average, but he is. Was that a mistake, or was it changed?

    Lastly is that Vaughn is a cornerback. I expect he got moved to Safety depth because there wasn’t room, but with Houston cut, he should probably go back to the cornerback depth.

    Thanks guys!

    • Xylan

      Oh, and Michael Williams got converted to OT, but you still have him listed at TE-Y.

  • AaronRodgers

    Peppers has mostly been working at linebacker on the first team, with Perry behind him. I don’t think you’ll ever see Peppers line up as a 3-4 DE, though the coaching staff says he’ll be playing an “elephant” end. Datone Jones will probably start at LE. Mike Neal seems to be playing more on the line instead of linebacker so far in OTAs. The coaches have said they see Carl Bradford as an OLB and that’s where he’s been playing. Micah Hyde has actually been working with the first team as a safety with Clinton-Dix backing him up.

    I’m just curious, how much farther does Mike Daniels have to go to be a High Quality starter? If you had to rate Boyd and Worthy based on the number of snaps they’ve had, where would you put them?

    • Brandon

      Boyd below-average. Worthy poor.

  • Faris

    “Below Average” for Bakhtiari seems harsh. He was widely considered a top rookie tackle last year, and per your own analysis excelled in Pass Pro (relatively speaking). Granted, he has room for improvement (Facing bull rushes, Run blocking, etc) but I would think the arrow is pointing straight up for him and should be considered Average at least

  • Ryan

    Levy is an avg starter? He’s possibly the best LB in the NFCN.