clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

WCG’s 2022 NFC North top 50: Nos. 1-10

In the fifth and final article of a roundtable series, the staff of Windy City Gridiron come together to rank the top 50 players in the NFC North heading into 2022.


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.

We’re in the home stretch, so let’s finish this list off!

10. Packers LB De’Vondre Campbell (235 points)

High: 3 (Sunderbruch)

Low: 22 (Schmitz)

Last year: N/R

The highest riser up this year’s list, Campbell practically came out of nowhere and was thrust into stardom.

Campbell was a June signing the Packers made after the draft had long been concluded, and he stepped into the starting lineup for a career year. He had 148 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 interceptions, the former of which placing 7th in the NFL. He was named a first-team All-Pro and gave Green Bay some much-needed stability at the linebacker position.

9. Vikings EDGE Danielle Hunter (247 points)

High: 4 (Schmitz)

Low: 29 (Salo)

Last year: 10

Hunter hasn’t just been bit by the injury bug; he’s been devoured by it.

Despite only playing in 7 games in the last two seasons, Hunter is still one of the league’s most efficient pass-rushers when healthy. He had 6 sacks in 7 games before suffering a torn pectoral muscle, and if he can manage to stay on the field, he’s a dangerous rusher who’s still among the NFL’s best.

8. Packers DL Kenny Clark (253 points)

High: 5 (Sunderbruch)

Low: 17 (Zeglinski)

Last year: 15

You know what you’re getting in Clark, and what you’re getting is a powerful interior defender who can create pressure up the middle.

Clark earned his second Pro Bowl berth after notching 48 tackles, 4 sacks and 13 quarterback hits. He’s never been the flashiest guy out there, but he’s solidified himself as arguably the best nose tackle in the game with years of consistent play.

7. Lions C Frank Ragnow (269 points)

High: 5 (Schmitz)

Low: 15 (Ramachandran)

Last year: 11

Ragnow suffered a tough break with a season-ending toe injury, but his film prior to getting hurt was unreal.

He finished his 4 games not allowing a single sack or being called for a single penalty, tallying an elite 86.7 PFF grade in the process. He has three straight seasons of great play under his belt, and if he can stay healthy, there’s no denying he’ll have a strong chance of being named to his second career Pro Bowl.

6. Packers OT David Bakhtiari (281 points)

High: 4 (Duerrwaechter)

Low: 16 (Zeglinski)

Last year: 4

Though he played in just one game in 2021, Bakhtiari’s status as one of the best offensive tackles in football doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy any time soon.

A torn ACL suffered late in the 2020 season took away essentially all of his last year, but the 3-time Pro Bowler and 5-time All-Pro has proven he is a dominant anchor for the Packers’ offensive line. Don’t expect that to change in 2022.

5. Bears LB Roquan Smith (301 points)

High: 4 (Borkowski, Zeglinski, Duerrwaechter, Ramachandran)

Low: 12 (Sunderbruch)

Last year: 12

It’s safe to say that Smith is one of the best off-ball linebackers in the NFL today.

His 163 tackles placed him 5th in the league and helped propel him to his second straight second-team All-Pro appearance. His 12 tackles for a loss were the 4th-most among full-time linebackers, and his chops in coverage have turned him into one of the most dynamic second-level defenders in the game.

4. Packers CB Jaire Alexander (308 points)

High: 3 (Zeglinski, Duerrwaechter, Ramachandran, Schmitz)

Low: 11 (Salo)

Last year: 5

Alexander rises up a spot on the rankings after playing just 4 games in 2021 due to injury, which says a lot about the talent the NFC North lost this offseason, but also the sheer talent he brings to the table.

He tallied 3 pass breakups and an interception in the games he played before injuring his shoulder, along with notching a 54.5 allowed completion percentage. A second-team All-Pro in 2020 who’s still just 25 years old, there’s litte reason to think Alexander’s best football isn’t ahead of him.

3. Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (316 points)

High: 3 (Infante, Salo, Borkowski, Zimmerman, Leming)

Low: 8 (Duerrwaechter)

Last year: 6

The positional value of the running back in today’s NFL can cause spirited debate, but what’s not up for debate is that Cook is one of the best going right now.

Despite missing 4 games, Cook still ran for 1,159 yards and 6 touchdowns while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. A do-it-all back with lightning quick feet and no glaring weaknesses other than durability, he’s a major part of the Vikings’ offense when healthy.

2. Vikings WR Justin Jefferson (341 points)

High: 1 (Duerrwaechter)

Low: 2 (Infante, Salo, Borkowski, Zimmerman, Zeglinski, Leming, Sunderbruch, Ramachandran, Schmitz)

Last year: 9

Jefferson’s dominant rookie campaign wasn’t a fluke. He’s here to stay.

The LSU alumnus built upon his record-setting rookie year by catching 108 passes for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021. Not only is he the best wide receiver in the NFC North by a country mile, but the argument could be made that he’s already the best wide receiver in the league today.

1. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (349 points)

High: 1 (Infante, Salo, Borkowski, Zimmerman, Zeglinski, Leming, Sunderbruch, Ramachandran, Schmitz)

Low: 2 (Duerrwaechter)

Last year: 1

As if there was any doubt.

Rodgers is a back-to-back NFL MVP who has been absurdly good for practically his entire career as starting quarterback for the Packers. As long as he’s under center for them and playing well, Green Bay will likely always be the favorites to win the NFC North.

Here is the finished top 50:

  1. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
  2. Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
  3. Vikings RB Dalvin Cook
  4. Packers CB Jaire Alexander
  5. Bears LB Roquan Smith
  6. Packers OT David Bakhtiari
  7. Lions C Frank Ragnow
  8. Packers DL Kenny Clark
  9. Vikings EDGE Danielle Hunter
  10. Packers LB De’Vondre Campbell
  11. Packers OG Elgton Jenkins
  12. Vikings S Harrison Smith
  13. Bears EDGE Robert Quinn
  14. Vikings EDGE Za’Darius Smith
  15. Packers RB Aaron Jones
  16. Lions TE T.J. Hockenson
  17. Vikings LB Eric Kendricks
  18. Packers S Darnell Savage
  19. Packers S Adrian Amos
  20. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins
  21. Packers EDGE Rashan Gary
  22. Vikings WR Adam Thielen
  23. Bears CB Jaylon Johnson
  24. Bears WR Darnell Mooney
  25. Vikings OT Brian O’Neill
  26. Bears RB David Montgomery
  27. Lions EDGE Aidan Hutchinson
  28. Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
  29. Lions OT Penei Sewell
  30. Lions OT Taylor Decker
  31. Packers CB Rasul Douglas
  32. Lions WR DJ Chark
  33. Bears QB Justin Fields
  34. Lions WR Jameson Williams
  35. Lions RB D’Andre Swift
  36. Lions OG Jonah Jackson
  37. Packers TE Robert Tonyan
  38. Vikings RB/KR Kene Nwangwu
  39. Lions CB Amani Oruwariye
  40. Bears S Eddie Jackson
  41. Vikings OT Christian Darrisaw
  42. Vikings CB Patrick Peterson
  43. Packers DL Devonte Wyatt
  44. Packers LB Quay Walker
  45. Packers CB Eric Stokes
  46. Packers RB AJ Dillon
  47. Vikings S Lewis Cine
  48. Bears S Jaquan Brisker
  49. Lions S Tracy Walker
  50. Bears CB Kyler Gordon

To give you a broader view of how each person voted, here are each writer’s top 35 players in the NFC North:

NFC North Roundtable Individual Votes

Rank Jacob Infante Jack R Salo Peter Borkowski Bill Zimmerman Robert Zeglinski Aaron Leming Josh Sunderbruch ECD Rahul Ramachandran Robert Schmitz
Rank Jacob Infante Jack R Salo Peter Borkowski Bill Zimmerman Robert Zeglinski Aaron Leming Josh Sunderbruch ECD Rahul Ramachandran Robert Schmitz
1 Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Justin Jefferson Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers
2 Justin Jefferson Justin Jefferson Justin Jefferson Justin Jefferson Justin Jefferson Justin Jefferson Justin Jefferson Aaron Rodgers Justin Jefferson Justin Jefferson
3 Dalvin Cook Dalvin Cook Dalvin Cook Dalvin Cook Jaire Alexander Dalvin Cook De'Vondre Campbell Jaire Alexander Jaire Alexander Jaire Alexander
4 Jaire Alexander De'Vondre Campbell Roquan Smith David Bakhtiari Roquan Smith Jaire Alexander Dalvin Cook Roquan Smith Roquan Smith Danielle Hunter
5 Roquan Smith Aaron Jones Danielle Hunter Jaire Alexander Dalvin Cook Roquan Smith Kenny Clark Harrison Smith David Bakhtiari Frank Ragnow
6 David Bakhtiari David Bakhtiari De'Vondre Campbell Roquan Smith David Bahktiari Elgton Jenkins Jaire Alexander ZaDarius Smith Dalvin Cook Dalvin Cook
7 Danielle Hunter Roquan Smith Eric Kendricks Frank Ragnow Danielle Hunter David Bakhtiari Harrison Smith T.J. Hockenson Robert Quinn Kenny Clark
8 Frank Ragnow Aidan Hutchinson Kenny Clark Elgton Jenkins De'Vondre Campbell Frank Ragnow David Bakhtari Dalvin Cook Za'Darius Smith Roquan Smith
9 Kenny Clark Harrison Smith Frank Ragnow Kenny Clark Frank Ragnow Rashan Gary ZaDarius Smith Frank Ragnow T.J. Hockenson Eric Kendricks
10 Elgton Jenkins Frank Ragnow Jaire Alexander Danielle Hunter Eric Kendricks De'Vondre Campbell T.J. Hockenson Danielle Hunter Eric Kendricks David Bakhtiari
11 Eric Kendricks Jaire Alexander David Bakhtiari Eric Kendricks Adrian Amos Robert Quinn Frank Ragnow Robert Quinn Kenny Clark Kirk Cousins
12 Kirk Cousins Kenny Clark Za'Darius Smith Darnell Savage Harrison Smith Kirk Cousins Roquan Smith Aaron Jones Elgton Jenkins Aaron Jones
13 Darnell Savage Robert Quinn Harrison Smith Rashan Gary Jaylon Johnson Danielle Hunter Elgton Jenkins Darnell Savage Aaron Jones Elgton Jenkins
14 Adrian Amos David Montgomery Darnell Savage Aaron Jones T.J. Hockenson Kenny Clark Danielle Hunter Eric Kendrics Danielle Hunter Rashan Gary
15 Rashan Gary Za'Darius Smith David Montgomery De'Vondre Campbell Elgton Jenkins T.J. Hockenson Brian O'Neill Kenny Clark Frank Ragnow Adrian Amos
16 T.J. Hockenson Jameson Williams Robert Quinn Kirk Cousins Robert Quinn Adrian Amos Kene Nwangwu David Bahktiari Adrian Amos T.J. Hockenson
17 Robert Quinn Elgton Jenkins Kirk Cousins Z. Smith Kenny Clark Aaron Jones Robert Quinn David Montgomery De'Vondre Campbell Robert Quinn
18 Za'Darius Smith Adam Thielen Elgton Jenkins Adam Thielen Brian O'Neiill Harrison Smith Adrian Amos Adam Theilen Jaylon Johnson Darnell Savage
19 Aaron Jones Brian O'Neill Aaron Jones Brian O'Neill Darnell Savage Brian O'Neill Darnell Savage Justin Fields Darnell Mooney Jaylon Johnson
20 De'Vondre Campbell Quay Walker Darnell Mooney Jaylon Johnson Darnell Mooney Jaylon Johnson Patrick Peterson De'Vondre Campbell Rashan Gary Za'Darius Smith
21 Harrison Smith Devonte Wyatt AJ Dillon TJ Hockenson Robert Tonyan Za'Darius Smith Rashan Gary Aiden Hutchinson Eric Stokes Harrison Smith
22 Jonah Jackson Penei Sewell Rashan Gary Harrison Smith Aidan Hutchinson Darnell Savage Amon-Ra St. Brown Jaylon Johnson Harrison Smith De'Vondre Campbell
23 Brian O'Neill Lewis Cine Adam Thielen Darnell Mooney Justin Fields Adam Thielen Kirk Cousins Amon-Ra St. Brown D.J. Chark Jonah Jackson
24 David Montgomery Darnell Mooney D'Andre Swift D'Andre Swift Penei Sewell Taylor Decker Adam Thielen Adrian Amos Taylor Decker Eddie Jackson
25 Adam Thielen Amon-Ra St Brown Penei Sewell Penei Sewell Taylor Decker Aidan Hutchison Aaron Jones Darnell Mooney Amon-Ra St. Brown Adam Thielen
26 Jaylon Johnson Kirk Cousins T.J. Hockenson Adrian Amos Aaron Jones Darnell Mooney Robert Tonyan Eddie Jackson Kirk Cousins Darnell Mooney
27 Amani Oruwariye Jaylon Johnson Rasul Douglas Robert Quinn Rasul Douglas Amon-Ra St Brown Penei Sewell DJ Chark Adam Thielen Rasul Douglas
28 Rasul Douglas Darnell Savage D.J. Chark Jr. Amon-Ra St. Brown Za'Darius Smith Amani Oruwariye DJ Chark Jaquan Brisker David Montgomery Taylor Decker
29 Taylor Decker Danielle Hunter Justin Fields DJ Chark Kyler Gordon Jonah Jackson Christian Darrisaw Christian Darrisaw Jordan Hicks Aidan Hutchinson
30 Penei Sewell Christian Darrisaw Adrian Amos Aidan Hutchinson David Montgomery Penei Sewell Taylor Decker Taylor Decker Dalvin Tomlinson Jameson Williams
31 Darnell Mooney D'Andre Swift Amon-Ra St. Brown Rasul Douglas Jameson Williams D'Andre Swift Aidan Hutchison Rasul Douglas Justin Fields Amani Oruwariye
32 Aidan Hutchinson Eric Kendricks Jaylon Johnson Taylor Decker Adam Thielen David Montgomery Devonte Wyatt Kene Nwangwu Aidan Hutchinson Brian O'Neill
33 Patrick Peterson TJ Hockenson Cole Kmet David Montgomery Amon-Ra St. Brown Tracy Walker Jameson Williams Kirk Cousins Christian Watson Tracy Walker
34 Tracy Walker Cole Kmet Christian Darrisaw Jameson Williams Jaquan Brisker Jameson Williams Jaquan Brisker D'Andre Swift Jameson Williams Patrick Peterson
35 Amon-Ra St. Brown Christian Watson Aidan Hutchinson Eddie Jackson Tracy Walker Allen Lazard Lewis Cine Elgton Jenkins Robert Tonyan Justin Fields