Over the course of eight days, we will be unveiling our All-Division teams here at CBSSports.com. What does that entail? We're picking a quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, two tight ends, five offensive linemen, two defensive ends, two defensive tackles, four linebackers, three cornerbacks and two safeties from each division that we believe will have the best 2016 season. Over the last few weeks, we've narrowed down the final roster, and we'll present them in this space. We'll continue today with the NFC North.


This one is no contest. Even during Rodgers' comparatively poor 2015 season (he set career lows in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating), he still had a pretty good case that he was the best passer in the division.

Quarterback COMP % TD % INT % YPA RTG QBR
Aaron Rodgers 60.7 5.4 1.4 7.1 92.7 64.9
Matthew Stafford 67.2 5.4 2.2 7.2 97.0 62.6
Jay Cutler 64.4 4.3 2.3 7.6 92.3 60.7
Teddy Bridgewater 65.3 3.1 2.0 7.2 88.7 62.7

The same is almost certain to hold true in 2016, when he gets No. 1 target Jordy Nelson back from a torn ACL. We should see the same old Rodgers next season, and when Rodgers is Rodgers, he is the best there is.

Picking the best QB in the NFC North is a cinch. USATSI

Running Back

Twice in his NFL career, Adrian Peterson has been away from football for an extended period of time. First, it was due to a torn ACL. Second, it was due to allegations of child abuse. Each time, he returned the following season and led the NFL in rushing yards. At age 30, AP ran for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns, making both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro first team. Sure, running backs are supposed to fall off with age, but Peterson has proven multiple times that he is not like most running backs. He should be back with a strong season in 2016, especially considering the improvements the Vikings made along the offensive line.

Eddie Lacy didn't have the strongest 2015 season and even having dropped a bunch of weight with the help of P90X is not the safest pick in the world for this team. That's why we're going with Riddick instead. He's shown over the last two seasons that he is a top-notch receiving option out of the backfield, and led all running backs with 80 catches in 2015. He has been not the recipient of all that many carries (career-high 43 last season), but that number figures to go up in his fourth season with Reggie Bush no longer in town and his role in the passing game should increase as well with both Bush and Calvin Johnson gone.

Wide Receiver

Nelson is 31 and coming off an ACL year, but in his last four healthy seasons has averaged 75 catches for 1,210 yards and 11 touchdowns. If he's on the field, he's likely to put up big numbers so long as Aaron Rodgers is out there with him.

Tate has taken his game to new height since arriving in Detroit. He averaged 41-459-4 in four seasons with the Seahawks, rather pedestrian numbers. Detroit Tate has been a 94-1,072-5 man. That's, you know... a lot better. And now he'll be the clear No. 1 passing game option because, again, Calvin Johnson will be watching football at home this fall. Tate has acted as the de facto top guy for Matthew Stafford a few times over the last two seasons while Johnson sat out with injury, but his target share should increase even more now that it's a permanent situation.

Golden Tate is now the man in Motown with Megatron retired. USATSI

When Jeffery was on the field in 2015, he was an absolute monster. In nine games, he had 54 catches for 807 yards and four scores. That's a 16-game pace of 96-1,435-8. Considering his previous two seasons were 89-1,421-7 and 85-1,133-10, it seems safe to say that when Jeffery is on the field, he's a good bet to rack up huge gains and find the end zone on a consistent basis. The (possible/probable) presence of Kevin White could eat into his target share some, but it should also help draw some attention away from his side of the field, something that will surely be needed with Martellus Bennett now plying his trade in New England.

Tight End

We might as well have picked these names out of a hat. No more Marty B in Chicago takes away a surefire team member. Nobody trusts any of Jared Cook, Richard Rodgers, Eric Ebron, or Brandon Pettigrew.

And so we land on Rudolph, who despite calling himself the best tight end in the NFL, actually has a career high of 53 catches and has never averaged more than 39.1 receiving yards per game. He's a very inspiring pick, we know.

Miller is a shot in the dark, but you could do worse than picking a guy that totaled 29 catches for 381 yards and four scores over his final seven games in 2015. It's not like there are other super-appealing options here.

Offensive Linemen

David Bakhtiari, Packers; Josh Sitton, Packers; T.J. Lang, Packers; Corey Linsley, Packers; Kyle Long, Bears

We're fudging positions a bit here, sliding Long onto the team at tackle even though he's going to move back inside to guard again this year. He played right tackle in 2015 and wasn't as good there as he was at right guard during his first two seasons, but managed to make the Pro Bowl anyway. Back at his natural position, he should have another excellent season clearing road for the backs behind him and stopping defensive tackles on their way to Jay Cutler.

Taking the Packers' interior trio here was easy. Lang and Sitton are among the handful of best guards in the league; they're superstar maulers in the run game and ace pass-protectors. Sitton's 30 and Lang will turn 29 a couple weeks into the 2016 season, but offensive linemen have shown the ability stick at a high level through their mid-to-late 30's. There are no worries here about them next season. Linsley is a solid player in his own right, if not quite the equal of his guards, but the main reason he's here and John Sullivan isn't is that we don't how what Sullivan will look like a year removed from microfracture surgery.

Josh Sitton and the interior of the Packers' line is the best in the NFC North. USATSI

The final spot came down to the two Packers tackles, Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga. Bakhtiari is younger and had the better season in 2015, especially after his return from an injury-related absence, so he got the nod.

Defensive End

There were people that questioned the Vikings when they gave Griffen a five-year, $42 million deal before the 2014 season, and all he's done since is take his per-snap productivity and keep it up in a starting role. Griffen picked up 17.5 sacks from 2011 through 2013 while playing south of 60 percent of Minnesota's defensive snaps in each season. In 2014 and 2015, he notched 22.5 combined sacks while playing between 80 and 90 percent of the team's snaps. He can rush inside and outside his man, and he's not just about taking the quarterback down, either. He can disrupt the offense with pressure and hurries, and he improved in the run game last season. With Mike Zimmer calling the shots and an improving group behind him, Griffen should be in for another strong year.

The Lions took Ansah out of BYU as a raw-as-hell pass-rushing prospect, and he has turned himself over his first three years in the NFL into a complete player. He started off just getting after the quarterback in 2013, taking him down eight times as a rookie. That figure dipped to 7.5 in 2014, but he was a better overall player that year. He exploded for 14.5 sacks in his third season, also recording 66 pressures and forcing four fumbles. The only thing that might stop him from having another big season is that he doesn't have much help up front in the pass rush department.

Defensive Tackle

Daniels was the Packers' best defensive player last season. Though some of that was due to the fact that Clay Matthews had to play inside rather than at his natural edge spot, it doesn't take away from the fact that Daniels is a stud in his own right. Daniels was Pro Football Focus' top-ranked 3-4 defensive end against the run, and second against the pass (behind J.J. Watt). He played tackle often enough that we felt comfortable sliding him there on this team. He's heading into his age-27 campaign and on the first season of a brand new contract, and we expect him to live up to the deal.

How the Vikings got Joseph on a five-year, $31.25 million deal back in 2014 is one of those things that doesn't make sense when you look back on it. He was extremely productive in a somewhat limited role for the Giants during the first few seasons of his career, but he's been even more so in Minnesota. Playing the nose in the Vikings' defense, he's coming off his best season against both the run and the pass. He was limited to 12 games, but still managed to nearly equal his career high with 56 tackles. He only had a half-sack, but he had one of the higher pressure rates among all defensive tackles. He'll turn 28 this season, and now in his third year of playing under Zimmer, he should continue to shine.

Linval Joseph is the anchor in the middle for the Vikings.


Let's all hope the Packers' inside linebackers stay healthy this season, so we can see Matthews back in his natural habitat getting after the passer on a full-time basis. It's been two years since that was the case, and he still managed to collect 17.5 sacks during those two seasons. He averaged 11.6 per-16 games over the previous five years, when he played outside on an every-snap basis. Please, Dom Capers, give us the real Clay Matthews back. While you're praying for that, watch Matthews (along with Sitton, Lang, Bakhtiari, and Don Barclay) sing some Beyonce.

Back? OK. Good. Moving on.

When the Vikings took Barr out of UCLA in 2014, it was unclear what their plan for him was. He seemed like a prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker going to a 4-3 team. It was an awkward fit. All that's happened since is he's become one of the NFL's best linebackers. He's all over the field making all kinds of plays. He's not yet a top-notch coverage player, but he closes on quarterbacks and runners faster than almost any player at his position. He doesn't rush the passer much, but Pro Football Focus credits him with eight sacks, 10 hits, and 29 hurries in 226 rush snaps over his two NFL seasons. That means he's hitting home over 20 percent of the time.

Levy was limited to just one game in 2015 due to a nasty hip injury, but over the few seasons before that had turned himself into a star. As we wrote when he signed his new contract:

During 2013 and 2014, Levy combined for 206 solo tackles, second-most in the NFL to only Lavonte David at 207. Levy also led all linebackers with seven interceptions in that time and ranked fourth with 20 passes defensed.

It's a damn crime that Levy didn't make the Pro Bowl in 2014, when he finished second to Luke Keuchly with 151 total tackles and was the clear second-best player (behind Ndamukong Suh) on the league's third-ranked defense by Football Outsiders' DVOA.

The 2014 Lions sported one of the best run defenses of the last 25 years, with Levy playing a starring role. His 47 run stops were second-most among all linebackers, per Pro Football Focus, and his 14.1 run stop percentage (stops/snaps) was also second-best in the league, behind only Rolando McClain. He expertly navigated blockers to pick his way through to the hole and snag ball-carriers before they broke through the first level of defense, helping the Lions allow only 0.86 second-level yards per carry (per Football Outsiders), best in the league.

Healthy again heading into 2016, Levy should again play a big role for the Lions.

McPhee, meanwhile, is a jack of all trades that lived up to his big contract in his first season with the Bears. He lined up all over the field; outside linebacker, defensive end, even defensive tackle. Per PFF, he accounted for nearly 25 percent of the Bears' total pressures in 2015. John Fox defenses typically do not stay below average for very long. He and Vic Fangio will turn that group into a good unit before long, and McPhee's roaming havoc will be a driving factor in that.


Slay has been a starter for two seasons, and he has been a top corner for both of them. He struggled at the start of the 2015 season, then allowed only 438 receiving yards after Week 3. (And he didn't give up a single catch against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.) He picked off two passes again and notched 13 passes defensed. Now 25 years old, standing 6-foot and 192 pounds, with 32.25-inch arms, Slay has the profile of a long-time top corner. He's just getting started.

Darius Slay has been a stud since he arrived in Detroit. USATSI

If I didn't actually spend the same four years at the University of Miami with Sam Shields, I might never have known that he was a converted wide receiver and not a natural cornerback. A part-time player for the first few years of his career, Shields has been a full-time starter for the last three and has excelled in the role. Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall are Green Bay's future at the position, but Shields still has a few years left on his deal and should continue to lead the group until they take over his spot.

Rhodes is on his way to becoming a top-10 corner himself. Here's PFF on his 2015 exploits: "Over the first 10 weeks of the season, Xavier Rhodes allowed 460 receiving yards, six touchdowns, and only three corners had a lower coverage grade. In the final seven weeks, Rhodes broke up seven passes, surrendered only one touchdown, and only four corners earned a higher coverage grade. Mike Zimmer has consistently stocked his defensive backfields full of talent, and Rhodes--at his best--is the centerpiece of an extremely talented group of corners in Minnesota." He still has things to learn, but with just three years of experience, that's to be expected. Once he gets them down, he can bring elite talent to the table.


Speaking of elite talent: Harrison Smith. The guy plays everywhere and does everything. Inside and outside the box. Out wide, against tight ends and slot guys. He's one of the small handful of best safeties in the NFL and headed into his physical prime. More big things are in store for the best player on Minnesota's defense.

Burnett only played 11 games, but 2015 might have been his best season. It was basically a toss-up between him and teammate Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for the last spot here, and we gave the more experienced player the nod due to his ability to fly downhill and play the run.