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WCG’s 2023 NFC North player rankings: Nos. 26-35

In the second article of a 4-part roundtable series, the staff of Windy City Gridiron come together to rank the best players in the NFC North heading into 2023.

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

As the heat of summer kicks up, the heat of the NFL offseason has died down. That makes it a perfect time to bring back our annual NFC North player rankings!

The Windy City Gridiron staff has come together to rank the top players in the Bears’ division heading into the 2023 NFL season. Like the NFL Top 100 — but better, in our humble opinion — staffers who participated were asked to provide their top 30 players in the division, and their respective rankings of those individual players resulted in a scoring system to put together these finalized rankings. In order to deepen the player pool a bit, Jacob Infante and Bill Zimmerman provided additional honorable mentions.

Let’s look at the players ranked 26 through 35.

No. 35: Bears OG Teven Jenkins

Best: 28 (Borkowski)

Last year: N/A

After kicking inside to guard right before the 2022 season, Jenkins was the best offensive lineman on the Bears’ roster. He graded at 80.7 on the year according to PFF, and his run-blocking value gives him a very high ceiling along Chicago’s interior if he can battle through his injury problems.

No. 34: Lions S Kerby Joseph

Best: 27 (Infante)

Last year: N/A

The Lions ended up with fantastic production out of third-round pick Joseph. He had 4 interceptions and 8 pass deflections as a rookie, and the rangy defensive back has the potential to be a long-term ball-hawk for Detroit’s secondary going forward.

No. 33: Vikings EDGE Marcus Davenport

Best: 26 (Householder)

Last year: N/A

Davenport had 9 sacks for the Saints in 2021, but his total fell to just 0.5 sacks in 2022. He’s in a new environment on a Minnesota defensive front now, and while injuries and sack consistency have been issues for him, he’s a physically gifted defender who does a good job of putting consistent pressure on the quarterback.

No. 32: Packers RB AJ Dillon

Best: 22 (Borkowski)

Last year: 46

Dillon has had 1,573 rushing yards combined in the last two seasons, and he has been able to contribute a bit for the Packers in the passing game. Though Aaron Jones is viewed as the RB1 in their backfield, Dillon is a reliable power back whose combination of size, quickness and insane quads makes him a valuable asset for Green Bay’s offense.

No. 31: Bears CB Jaylon Johnson

Best: H/R (Infante)

Last year: 23

Johnson seems to have solidified himself in league circles as a rock-solid starting cornerback who, although he wouldn’t take on the CB1 mantle he does for Chicago on a majority of other teams, is a dependable player on the back end. He has 31 pass deflections through his first 3 NFL seasons and has yet to allow a completion percentage of 60% in a single season.

No. 30: Packers WR Christian Watson

Best: 25 (Zimmerman)

Last year: N/A

Though Watson’s stat line in 2022 was solid — 41 catches for 611 yards and 7 touchdowns — it’s the second half of the season that has Packers fans excited for his sophomore campaign. He averaged nearly 65.4 yards per game during the final 8 games of his rookie year, and even if Green Bay’s passing attack takes a step back with Aaron Rodgers gone, Watson should still be quire productive as their new WR1.

No. 29: Bears WR Darnell Mooney

Best: 21 (Borkowski)

Last year: 24

Mooney falls a little bit down the rankings after missing 5 games due to injury in 2022, but he’s still one of the best wide receivers in the NFC North. A speedy weapon who has plenty of chemistry with Justin Fields, he has the chance to boost his potential value heading into a contract year.

No. 28: Vikings OT Brian O’Neill

Best: 22 (Leming)

Last year: 25

After finishing with an 82.7 PFF grade in 2022, O’Neill forms one of the league’s best tackle duos along the Vikings’ offensive line with Christian Darrisaw. He suffered a partially torn Achilles in Week 17 of last year, but the optimism remains that he’ll be able to recover and come back in a big way in 2023.

No. 27: Lions OG Jonah Jackson

Best: 26 (Wiltfong)

Last year: 26

Jackson didn’t allow a single sack in 2022, and though he didn’t finish as a Pro Bowler like he did in 2021, he was still a rock-solid presence along a dominant Lions offensive line. He is one of the best young guards in the NFL and figures to be in line for a massive contract when his rookie deal expires at the end of this season.

No. 26: Bears LB T.J. Edwards

Best: 22 (Infante)

Last year: N/A

Edwards, who turns 27 in August, is coming off of a career season with the Eagles that saw him finish as a top-10 linebacker according to PFF and tally a career-high 159 tackles. Now that he’s returning home to Chicago, the expectations are high for him as he forms a potentially dominant duo with Tremaine Edmunds at the second level.