I could write a long, witty introduction, full of a lot of decently long words that even I might have to look up or even make up to preface this spot. I could tell some anecdotal story about how something happened that made this topic come to mind.
... Really though, that'd be stupid and untrue. One, because any "long, witty introduction" usually results in me repeating myself, sounding dumb and repeating myself, and two, simple topic questions usually don't come to me from anecdotal stories or anything. They come from work boredom, random brain flashes from playing NCAA on PS3, comments with you fine upstanding people, or sometimes random conversation.
And this topic question is about as simple as it gets: If you could pick one player from any of our NFC North brethren, who would it be? My answer after the jump.
For me, I'm a little bit torn between Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson, but I'm pretty much leaning wide receiver. The reasoning is kinda simple. First off, offensively the Bears have two big needs - guard and wide receiver. There are a couple pieces that could improve guard play throughout the NFC North, especially in pass protection - for instance, did you know the Lions gave up the fifth fewest sacks as a unit last season with 27 and allowed 52 QB hits, the second lowest of the four teams (#1 - NE, 49) tied with them with that many sacks? It's run blocking where that unit has issues.
That being said, the two guards are the only part of the line not drafted by the Lions - LG Rob Sims was a fourth round pick from Seattle and RG Stephen Peterman was Dallas' third rounder in 2004. Maybe Green Bay's Josh Sitton would be a nice grab, as Pro Football Focus called him Green Bay's best lineman. (But hey, PFF also has the Steelers' line ranked below us, and they went to the Super Bowl - Whaaa?!)
Thing is, though, the NFC North doesn't have that great a collection of offensive linemen. Some good up-and-comers, but not a lot of in-their-prime, excellent guards. And the NFC has two surefire, in-their-prime, excellent receivers. It's a matter of a physical monster - the 6'5", 239 lbs, lone offensive threat Calvin Johnson - versus the smaller, less-heralded, yet performing Greg Jennings at 5'11", 195 lbs. One who has a supporting cast made up of virtual Lilliputians from Gulliver's Travels and another who has one of the best quarterbacks in the game throwing to him with several other good weapons in the passing game.
Which lineup scares you more? Jennings/Knox/Bennett/Hester or Megatron/Knox/Bennett/Hester? Jennings adds a Martz-sized receiver with a lot of ability, but Megatron has had the benefit of playing under Martz for his rookie year as a third option, and still caught 48 balls for 756 yards. Johnson's had Jon Kitna, Daunte Culpepper, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton, J.T. O'Sullivan and Shaun Hill throwing him the ball besides anointed franchise QB Matthew Stafford. Jennings has had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
With all that, I think I would take Johnson. He doesn't fit the typical Martz receiver role, but he adds a big target out of the receiver spot (and hey, no one said anything done in dreamland affects real life...) and one that can fight for the ball, run a decent route, and fly down the field fairly well. Jay Cutler's not quite got the credentials of Favre/Rodgers, but he's better than the collection of backups that's been throwing to Johnson when Stafford's not been playing. First order of business, however, would be going over "holding the ball until the signal."
Now we'd just have to do something about that guard position...