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Ranking the best QBs in the NFC North

Can you feel the energy, Motown? The 2021 NFL season is around the corner, and like many fans across the country, Detroiters are ready for some football. With the influx of positive changes made by the Detroit Lions, the excitement is understandable. However, things may be slightly different in the NFC North this time, increasing that excitement.

And it’s regarding the starting quarterback position. 

Since last season’s end, there have been significant changes for two of the four teams in the NFC North, with a potential third looming in wait. Because of that, it’s time to re-evaluate the best quarterbacks in the division. 

Here are the WSN rankings of the best starting QBs inside the NFC North.

4th, Andy Dalton/Justin Fields, Chicago Bears 

This take could age poorly. By the time this season ends, Justin Fields could finish as the second-best QB in the NFC North. He’s as talented as they come. Even after trading for Jared Goff, he’s so gifted that Detroit Lions fans wanted him in Motown. After all, the former OSU Buckeye is 6’3, 228 lbs, and clocked a 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine. 

He never lost a Big Ten game as a starter (something Michigan fans know all too well), and his intangibles are through the roof. He’s an excellent decision-maker with the ball, the zip on his passes is impressive, and he’s tough as nails. The potential for Fields to be great is written all over him. 

Jun 16, 2021; Lake Forest, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterbacks Nick Foles, left, Andy Dalton, center, and Justin Fields, right, stand on the field during minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

However, that’s the reason ranking him 4th is logical. The potential of Justin Fields being great is the only thing to judge him on. He has yet to take an NFL snap. Furthermore, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy already declared that Andy Dalton would be the Week 1 starter. Ranking him above seasoned NFL starters, at this point, makes no sense. He could wind up being the typical OSU bust at QB.

Despite that, don’t expect Dalton to remain the starter. Everyone has seen his ceiling. And with that being the case, it’s in the Bears’ best interest to get Fields out there sooner than later. It’s hard to imagine him being worse.

3rd, Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

As a quarterback talent, Jared Goff is arguably second-best in the division. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler, and outside of Aaron Rodgers, he’s the only QB in the division to lead his team to a Super Bowl. Goff is 3-3 in the playoffs. And he’s thrown for 4600+ yards twice in his career. Along with that, in 2018 and 2019, he ranked in the top-40 of the NFL’s 100 best players.

His resume is as solid as they come.

Jared Goff is a damn good quarterback. However, his receiving corps is a different story. 

While T.J. Hockenson and Quintez Cephus prepare for potential breakout seasons, Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and Amon-Ra St. Brown are questions marks at wideout for the Lions. 

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) at practice during organized team activities at Lions headquarters in Allen Park, Thursday, May 27, 2021.

In Williams’ case, he hasn’t re-captured the magic of 2016, his best season in the league. While playing for the then-San Diego Chargers, he caught 69 passes for 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns. Since then, Williams hasn’t come close to that level of production. The Lions are placing a lot of faith he will, however.

Then there’s Breshad Perriman. 

Although he’s the son of legendary Lions wideout Brett, he’s not the same dynamic weapon his father was. Perriman has the chance to become better, however. And that’s because, Goff will be the best quarterback he’s had the chance to play with. Still, Perriman’s production isn’t anything to write home about. He’s serviceable.

Lastly, there’s Amon-Ra St. Brown.

The Detroit Lions are very high on him. And the Lions are happy he was still on the board. Still, it’s too early to gauge the impact he’ll have on the Lions’ offense. 

Jared Goff will be working with these “weapons” this season. And too many things have to fall into place for him to have a successful season. Again, he’s the second-best in the NFC North as a QB talent. Unfortunately, on paper, it appears he’ll have the third-best production.

2nd, Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Jared Goff is a better quarterback than Kirk Cousins. Let’s make that very clear. If an NFL GM had to pick between which quarterback to build around, it’s safe to surmise Goff would be a clear choice. Despite that, Cousins has the better weapons surrounding him.

May 26, 2021; Eagan, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) participates in drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

His career-best stats last season proved it.

Cousins threw for 4,265 yards and 35 touchdowns, tying him for 6th-best in the league. Part of that is because the Vikings had some good luck. They replaced Stefon Diggs with rookie Justin Jefferson, and it paid off in a big way. Jefferson finished last season with 1,400 receiving yards, an NFL rookie record. 

By the way, for Lions fans, if you don’t remember, Jefferson broke that record in Detroit.  

Besides Jefferson, Cousins got quality production out of Adam Thielen, finished with 74 receptions for 924 yards. Not to forget, he had 14 touchdowns, which were third-best in the league last season. The Vikings also finished with the 11th-ranked offense, production-wise.

Even if people don’t want to give him props, Kirk Cousins is to thank for that. 

With the tools at his disposal, expect identical results this season.

1st, Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Everyone in the NFC North knows who Aaron Rodgers is.

He’s the reigning NFL MVP. There’s no need to run down his stats and accomplishments. Rodgers is the division’s boogeyman. Anyone who knows anything about football shouldn’t question Rodgers’ game. There is only one question people should have regarding him, and that’s whether he’ll play this season.

Because as of now, Rodgers returning to the Green Bay Packers is still a question mark.

Every avid (and casual) football is aware of the drama in Green Bay. For those living under a rock, though, Rodgers wants significant changes, or he’s out. 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the 3rd quarter of the Green Bay Packers 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC divisional playoff game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Packers Rams 04644

And since those changes haven’t happened, he’s currently out.

Until he officially declares that he won’t play the 2021 season, Rodgers is still the best quarterback in the NFC North. However, if he does indeed decide to sit out, expecting Jordan Love to hold this spot isn’t logical. 

Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.

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