Packers still class of NFC North

The Lions have more talent, but Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure are coming off injuries and Leshoure is facing a two-game suspension.

"It seems you never are sure who is available for the Lions," one front office man said. "Who knows with that group?"

Wide receivers

1. Packers (19); 2. Lions (16); 3. Bears (10); 4. Vikings (5).

The acquisition of Brandon Marshall failed to move the Bears into the top two because the Packers and Lions both are stacked.

"Even with Marshall, the Bears receivers leave something to be desired," one scout said.

Another pro personnel man had a different take.

"If they had Johnny Knox healthy, the Bears would have a really strong receiver group," he said.

Despite the presence of Johnson for the Lions, probably football's best receiver, the Packers were given four of five first-place votes.

"The Packers have more depth than anyone," a personnel man said.

Tight ends

1. Lions (20); 2. Packers (14); 3. Vikings (11); 4. Bears (5).

The personnel men were unanimous that the Lions had the best group and the Bears the worst.

One said, "The top three in the division are almost a tie. The Bears group isn't as good."

Offensive lines

1. Packers (19); 2. Lions (16); 3. Vikings (8); 4. Bears (7).

"This position is where the talent falls off in the division," an assistant pro personnel director said.

Indeed, each of these lines has question marks. Even the Packers, who received four first-place votes, lost two starters and are not sure who their left tackle will be.

"Aaron Rodgers makes that line look good by getting rid of ball, but the run blocking is not impressive," one scout said.

Two of the five polled said they would not be surprised to see significant improvement in the Bears' offensive line.





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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