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WCG’s 2022 NFC North top 50: Nos. 41-50

In the first article of a six-part roundtable series, the staff of Windy City Gridiron come together to rank the top 50 players in the NFC North heading into 2022, starting with the players ranked 41-50

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL season is drawing nearer, and it figures to be an even more unpredictable season than the league typically has.

With so many star players changing teams — especially in the AFC — there’s very little clarity as to which teams will make the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl. This time of year provides a fun opportunity to rank and predict to your heart’s content, as each team still has an undefeated record, and none of the players have made any bad regular season plays.

As the NFL Network has done their player consensus Top 100 ranking each year, Windy City Gridiron’s staff has put together a roundtable over the last few seasons of the best players in the NFC North. With plenty of contributions to this year’s ballot and the departures of Davante Adams, Khalil Mack and other notable players within the division, the rankings proved to be more varied than ever before.

Before we get started, let’s set up the ground rules. Each WCG participant was asked to send their top 35 players in the NFC North. A player’s ranking determined how many points they would receive (35 points for first, 34 points for second, etc.), and the total points were added up to create the rankings.

First, here are some honorable mentions who garnered votes, but didn’t have enough to crack the top 50.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Vikings LB Jordan Hicks (7 points)
  • Vikings DL Dalvin Tomlinson (6 points)
  • Bears TE Cole Kmet (5 points)
  • Packers WR Christian Watson (4 points)

Note: Tiebreakers will be broken by whichever player appeared on more ballots. If that total is the same, then the tiebreaker will go to whichever player received the highest ranking on an individual ballot. If that scenario also does not result in a clear winner, ballot organizer Jacob Infante will break the tie.

50: Bears CB Kyler Gordon (7 points)

High: 29 (Zeglinski)

Low: N/R

Last year: N/R

The first of Chicago’s two second-round picks makes his first appearance in the NFC North top 50 after the third tiebreaker option was brought into effect.

Gordon was seen by some as a likely first-round pick and seen by many as one of the top cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft. After recording 2 interceptions and 7 pass deflections with Washington in his final collegiate season, he figures to start from Day 1 opposite Jaylon Johnson in the Bears’ secondary.

49: Lions S Tracy Walker (9 points)

High: 33 (Leming, Schmitz)

Low: N/R

Last year: N/R

Walker signed a three-year, $25 million extension with the Lions in March, and one could argue he’s one of the most underrated safeties in the NFL.

He finished the 2021 season with 108 tackles, an interception, 6 pass deflections, and a 62.5 completion percentage on passes thrown his way. He’s a versatile defensive back who is very reliable if not flashy, and if he converts a few breakups into interceptions in 2022, he could realistically enter the Pro Bowl conversation.

48: Bears S Jaquan Brisker (12 points)

High: 28 (Duerrwaechter)

Low: N/R

Last year: N/R

Despite being selected after the aforementioned Gordon in the 2022 draft, Brisker finds himself ahead in the rankings due to being added to three ballots to Gordon’s one.

Brisker proved to be a do-it-all safety at Penn State who can hit hard and cover a significant amount of space in zone coverage up high. He will likely start at safety alongside Eddie Jackson, and if the rookie plays well right out of the gate, he could rise up these rankings in due time.

47: Vikings S Lewis Cine (14 points)

High: 23 (Salo)

Low: N/R

Last year: N/R

The Vikings had some instability at free safety in 2021 after Anthony Harris left for Philadelphia, but they might have found their answer in Cine.

The first-rounder out of Georgia is a well-rounded defender with loose hips and quick feet in coverage, good straight-line speed and a physical edge in run support. Minnesota has plenty of young defensive backs on its roster, but Cine might be the most intriguing of them all for his all-around skill set.

46: Packers RB AJ Dillon (15 points)

High: 21 (Borkowski)

Low: N/R

Last year: N/R

The third tiebreaker option was used once again to place the next two players, and the powerful Dillon ends up at No. 46.

Dillon stepped into a much bigger role for the Packers’ offense in 2021, finishing with 803 yards and 5 touchdowns, as opposed to 242 yards and 2 touchdowns as a rookie. Quadzilla also contributed a lot more in the passing game, showcasing soft hands along with his punishing style of running.

45. Packers CB Eric Stokes (15 points)

High: 21 (Ramachandran)

Low: N/R

Last year: N/R

He flew under the radar a little bit with how many great rookie performances came from the 2021 draft, but Stokes lowkey had a very good year last season.

Not only did he break up 14 passes, but he also only allowed a 49.5 completion percentage and just a 71.3 passer rating, the former of which being 8th in the entire NFL. He only appeared on one top 35 this year, but with another strong season, there’s no doubt Stokes has the potential to skyrocket up this list.

44. Packers LB Quay Walker (16 points)

High: 20 (Salo)

Low: N/R

Last year: N/R

The Packers have had their struggles at linebacker in recent years, but the physical specimen Walker could be the solution to their problems.

A 6-foot-4, 240-pound rookie linebacker with legitimate 4.5 speed, Walker has a very high ceiling if he can speed up his processing at the second level. His range as a tackler and his constant energy on the field could see him put up monster numbers for Green Bay quickly in his career.

43. Packers DL Devonte Wyatt (19 points)

High: 21 (Salo)

Low: N/R

Last year: N/R

Wyatt was one of the best defensive linemen in college football in 2021, and he looks to carry over his success from a loaded Georgia defense to a sneaky loaded Packers defense.

Though not insanely massive by defensive line standards — he’s 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds — Wyatt is a freak athlete with tremendous get-off speed who ran a 4.77 40-yard dash with a 99.5th-percentile 10-yard split at 1.6 seconds. His quickness off the snap and ability to keep his pads low could make him a dangerous threat as a 3-technique.

42. Vikings CB Patrick Peterson (21 points)

High: 20 (Sunderbruch)

Low: N/R

Last year: 23

Peterson’s prime is behind him at this point, but he’s still a formidable starting cornerback in the NFL.

He allowed just 56.6% of passes thrown his way to be completed: his lowest mark in the last four years. Though he doesn’t make plays on the ball at the same rate he used to, he’s still a very sticky coverage defender who can make it tough for opposing receivers to create separation.

41. Vikings OT Christian Darrisaw (22 points)

High: 29 (Sunderbruch, Duerrwaechter)

Low: N/R

Last year: 43

Darrisaw fell a bit further than expected in the 2021 draft, but the Vikings are likely very happy he dropped right into their laps.

The Virginia Tech alumnus finished with a 71.9 PFF grade in the 12 games he played, and he only had three penalties in that timeframe. If he can cut down on his sack-allowed rate — he allowed the 20th-most sacks despite taking the 55th-most snaps at tackle — the ceiling is very high for him.