2013 Midseason All-Division Team: NFC North
Yesterday we unveiled our All Pro team for the midseason, but we’re going to dig into a little bit more data and that means All-Division Teams.
That’s right, the best players from each division in one team, giving those who deserve praise their due. As ever, it doesn’t matter about reputation just what they’ve done on the field.
Here’s the best at the midseason mark for the NFC North.
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, GB (+18.0)
With Stafford hot on his trail (and potentially poised to take over the lead for this spot given Rodgers’ recent injury), the North’s signal-caller is still Rodgers for now. The two are close in passing grades, but the mobility offered by the Packer passer and his 80% Accuracy Percentage tips the scales.
Running Back: Adrian Peterson, MIN (+9.6)
By run grades it’s a close race with Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, and Joique Bell staking their claims, but considering their receiving work as well, Peterson fits best in this pass-first offense. The 44 missed tackles he’s forced close the case in Peterson’s favor.
*Opting out of the fullback race in favor of a three-wide set for this division, it’s a spot that would have otherwise belonged to John Kuhn.
Tight End: Martellus Bennett, CHI (-2.3)
Maybe we skip the tight end spot as well with no one stepping up with any kind of across-the-board positives. An aerial attack in mind for this squad, Bennett offers more a receiver this year than any of the others and gets the call based solely on that… we just won’t keep him in to block.
Wide Receivers: Brandon Marshall, CHI (+15.6), Calvin Johnson, DET (+14.9), Jordy Nelson, GB (+14.3)
The trio that occupies three-quarters of our Top 4 overall receiver grades all had to be included (again, sorry Mr. Kuhn). All built to make life easy on the QB, they each carry a WR Rating of at least 106.0 and will fit nicely together — Nelson up and down one sideline as the deep threat, Marshall working the middle from the slot, and Johnson having free rein on the other side.
Tackles: LT Jermon Bushrod, CHI (+4.0), RT Phil Loadholt, MIN (+10.1)
Ideally we’d have a stronger set, particularly on the left as Bushrod is neck-and-neck with Detroit’s Riley Reiff, neither inspiring a ton of confidence with 26 and 28 total pressures allowed, respectively. Loadholt on the right is running as our sixth-rated right tackle, though much of his good work has been done in the run game.
Guards: LG Josh Sitton, GB (+9.7), RG Larry Warford, DET (+7.7)
Sticking with the strict left-right rule I’ve set for myself here, Chicago’s Matt Slausen loses out to Sitton despite matching overall grades, fourth-best in the league. Sitton’s more consistent play on a week-by-week basis gets him the edge, plus his pass blocking will come in handy helping on the left. Our first rookie shows up in the form of the third-rated right tackle, Warford, who nudges past Minnesota’s Brandon Fusco to rep the guard-rich NFC North.
Center: Dominic Raiola, DET (+9.2)
Anchoring the interior was an easier choice as Raiola holds the third spot in our overall center rankings, well above the three other quality entrants (John Sullivan, Evan Dietrich-Smith, and Roberto Garza) who are grouped at the edge of the Top 10. Raiola has logged positive marks in all but one outing on his way to inclusion here.
Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (defensive tackles or 3-4 defensive ends) and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive Interior: Ndamukong Suh, DET (+18.3), C.J. Mosley, DET (+7.2), Mike Daniels, GB (+10.1)
This balanced threesome is led by Suh’s 40 total pressures (one short of J.J. Watt’s number) and 17 stops. Mosley and his +5.1 run defense grade will man the middle, with Daniels bringing his No. 2 Run Stop Percentage (among 3-4 DEs) and some quality pass rush of his own from the other end of the interior bracket.
Edge Rushers: Brian Robison, MIN (+10.1); Willie Young, DET (+2.9)
Providing the edge rush for the North team, Robison and Young boast a pair of the six highest Pass Rushing Productivity marks among 4-3 DEs. Robison doing all of his damage from the left, the more versatile Young will hold down the right side as their 80 combined total pressures give hope for forcing opposing QBs into quick decisions and errant throws.
Linebackers: Brad Jones, GB (+4.2), DeAndre Levy, DET (+2.9)
While Jones is at home on the inside, Levy will have to reach back a few years for memories of inside play. The two complement each other in that Jones will provide excellent run D (his +4.4 is fourth among MLB/ILBs) while Levy patrols in coverage with his 4-3 OLB-leading +7.2 in that department.
Cornerbacks: Rashean Mathis, DET (+0.8), Tim Jennings, CHI (+0.1)
Finding positive coverage marks for NFC North corners so far this season is a difficult task. Jennings and Mathis win out with slight negatives in a ‘lesser of evils’ fashion. Jennings has allowed a passer rating against of just 60.1, while Mathis has seen just 55% of passes his way completed and they’ve combined for eight PDs and three picks (all Jennings’) to counter two touchdowns against them.
Safeties: Glover Quin, DET (+2.7), Morgan Burnett, GB (+2.6)
Highlighting a secondary short on highlights, Burnett’s play against the run stands out. His Run Stop Percentage of 11.3% (12 stops on 106 snaps in run defense) rises to 23.3% when playing within 8 yards of the line — a figure that leads all safeties. Quin, on the other hand, has settled in as a Top 10-graded cover safety through the first half of the season.
Kicker: Blair Walsh, MIN (+14.7)
Last season’s sensation has a tenuous hold on this spot mid-way through 2013 with no North kicker stepping to the forefront.
Punter: Sam Martin, DET (+12.3)
Martin has seen a few too many get into the end zone, but his net of 42.5 is a Top 5 mark.
Returner: Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN (+8.7)
Patterson is pushing to take the North’s return mantle from Hester with a league-leading +8.7 return grade built solely on kickoffs.
Special Teamer: Blake Costanzo, CHI (+6.0) A Top-5 grade among special teamers, none have a higher mark for kickoff coverage on the year.
Follow Rick on Twitter: @PFF_Rick