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WCG’s NFC North Consensus Top 50: Nos. 40-31

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In the second article of a six-part roundtable series, the staff of Windy City Gridiron comes together to rank the top 50 players in the NFC North heading into 2020, this time listing players ranked 40-31.

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next few days, we are going to share the results of an exercise involving several members here at Windy City Gridiron, in which we share the consensus results of our top 50 players in the NFC North heading into the 2020 season.

Here’s the list so far, and you can read the analysis on each of these players here.

  • Honorable mentions: Kyle Rudolph, Charles Leno Jr.
  • 50. Jeff Gladney
  • 49. Marvin Jones Jr.
  • 48. Corey Linsley
  • 47. Jaylon Johnson
  • 46. Tashaun Gipson
  • 45. Brian O’Neill
  • 44. Elgton Jenkins
  • 43. Kerryon Johnson
  • 42. Frank Ragnow
  • 41. D’Andre Swift

Without further ado, here are the players rated 31 through 40 on our consensus top 50.

40. Kevin King, CB, Packers

High: 25 (Zeglinski)

Low: N/R

After a disappointing start to his NFL career, Kevin King put it together in his third season in the league. He battled through injuries that saw him miss 17 games in his first two seasons with the Packers, but managed to stay healthy for 15 games in 2019—starting in 14 of them—and the results were eye-opening.

With five interceptions and 15 pass deflections—both among the top 10 in the league last year—and a sub-60 percent completion percentage allowed, King was a productive machine in coverage for Green Bay. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound cornerback displayed the physicality in man coverage and quickness for his size that helped him be selected with the No. 33 overall pick in the 2017 draft. As he enters his contract year, another top-notch campaign from King can help him secure a sizable deal by season’s end and prove that he’s not a one-year wonder but rather, one of the league’s top young talents at his position.

39. Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings

High: 24 (Salo)

Low: N/A

With Stefon Diggs gone, very little depth at wide receiver and only Adam Thielen projecting as a threat to steal targets from him at his position, first-round pick Justin Jefferson should make an impact right away for the Vikings.

Jefferson is coming off of an incredible 2019 season, in which he led the FBS with 111 receptions and finished with 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns en route to an undefeated championship season with LSU. His breakout campaign boosted his stock into Round 1, and he now finds himself as, presumably, an immediate starter for Minnesota. A coordinated wide out with fantastic ball skills, strong hands and good overall athleticism, Jefferson could be in a position to put up big numbers from the get-go.

38. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Lions

High: 26 (Zeglinski)

Low: N/A

The first and—spoiler alert—only tight end in the NFC North to crack the top 50 after Kyle Rudolph just missed out, T.J. Hockenson didn’t make an incredible splash in 2019, but he still managed to carve out a role for himself in Detroit’s offense in a rookie campaign where very few players at his position manage to put up much production.

A well-rounded athlete who brings good athletic ability, quality ball skills and a high motor as a blocker, Hockenson finished with 32 receptions, 367 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games, starting in seven of them. All things considered, the No. 8 pick in the 2019 draft had a solid enough season. He made the cut on two lists among the Windy City Gridiron staff, and if he makes the second-year leap that many high-profile tight ends have done in the past, even more staff members may be inclined to place him on theirs next year.

37. Riley Reiff, OT, Vikings

High: 24 (Householder)

Low: N/A

The Vikings brought Riley Reiff over from the Lions in the 2017 offseason, and he has been a solid option for them on the blind side since switching over to a divisional rival.

Reiff has just missed five games in his three seasons in Minnesota, and he finished the 2019 season with an above-average 71.1 grade from PFF. While not necessarily an elite option at left tackle, he has been a steady option on an offensive line that has undergone of a facelift over the past few years. While he only appeared on one staff member’s list, he was rated high enough to crack the top 40.

36. Darnell Savage, S, Packers

High: 23 (Zeglinski)

Low: N/A

Darnell Savage was the later of the Packers’ two first-round picks in the 2019 draft, but he made more of an immediate impact on their defense than Rashan Gary.

The former Maryland standout intercepted two passes and tallied five pass deflections in 14 games last season, starting in all of them. Savage also finished 10th in the league among safeties with an allowed completion percentage of 56.7 percent. He displayed impressive athleticism in the free safety role, and as divisional rival Eddie Jackson proved, the game can slow down for a young safety in his second season in the NFL. With a full offseason to prepare with his team, his impact in Green Bay’s secondary could be even more apparent in 2020.

35. Adrian Amos, S, Packers

High: 28 (Wiltfong and Salo)

Low: N/A

A name that many Bears fans should be familiar with, Adrian Amos put together a solid season in his first year with the Packers after departing the Windy City. With two interceptions, eight pass deflections and a career-high 84 tackles, the five-year veteran didn’t miss a beat as he changed teams.

Amos didn't rank significant high on anybody’s list, but he did make an appearance on four separate lists, so his general consistency compared to other players ranked to this point propels him into the top 35. As a solid coverage safety and a reliable tackler willing to lower the shoulder and deliver a nice hit onto his opponents, Amos is a quality piece on Green Bay’s secondary.

34. Jeff Okudah, CB, Lions

High: 20 (Salo)

Low: N/A

The highest-rated rookie on the consensus list and the only rookie to appear on more than one ballot, Jeff Okudah was selected third overall in this year’s draft for a reason.

After a solid 2018 season, Okudah burst onto the scene last year, tallying three interceptions and 9 pass deflections, all while showcasing the size, speed, physicality and instincts that are required to excel as a boundary cornerback at the professional level. Though he hasn’t stepped onto the field yet, he immediately projects as the Lions’ No. 1 cornerback and possesses a sky-high ceiling.

33. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/RB/KR, Bears

High: 19 (Salo)

Low: N/A

Though not necessarily a game-changer on offense, Cordarrelle Patterson is arguably the most well-rounded special teams player in the league. Making it onto two lists—ranking 19th on Jack Salo’s list and 30th on Bill Zimmerman’s—the five-time All-Pro has certainly made a noticeable impact on every team he's played for.

In his first season with the Bears, Patterson led the league in kick return yards with 825 and placed second with a 29.5 yards-per-return average. He was also one of just seven players to return a kickoff for a touchdown in 2019. He has also made an impact as a gunner on punt coverage, tallying six tackles and using his dynamic speed to charge downfield and down Pat O’Donnell’s punts. Patterson also played a bit as a gadget player on offense, tallying 186 yards on 28 touches as both a wide receiver and a running back, but it’s his special teams work that has him highly regarded on this list.

32. Danny Trevathan, LB, Bears

High: 25 (Curl)

Low: N/A

Though Danny Trevathan has missed 18 games over the past four years, he’s been a reliable enforcer when he’s been on the field for the Bears’ defense since joining the team.

With 327 tackles in 46 games as a member of Chicago’s roster, Trevathan is a consistent player who played a key role in turning their defense around early in Ryan Pace’s tenure as general manager. He is an instinctive defender with a high motor who does a very good job of making his presence felt in run support. He was re-signed to a three-year contract extension this offseason, so Trevathan should continue to make an impact for the Bears going forward.

31. Roquan Smith, LB, Bears

High: 19 (Curl)

Low: N/A

Despite being a top-10 selection in the 2018 draft, Roquan Smith has arguably been one of the more underrated young defenders in the league in recent years. Luckily for him, he gets recognition on this list, making top-30 appearances in three of our eight staff ballots.

In 28 games, Smith has tallied 222 tackles, topping the century mark in both of his two NFL seasons. The athletic linebacker is a reliable tackler who has shown that when he plays at full speed, he can be a production machine for Chicago’s defense. Before suffering a pectoral injury against the Cowboys, he had reached double-digit tackles in four of the last five games he played, and in games he played in full, he topped at least six tackles in all but two of them. As he enters his third season in the league, Smith could be in for his best season yet if he stays healthy.