The 2014 All-NFC North Team
By Dan Dahlke
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6). Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Starters: ROLB – Clay Matthews, GB; MLB – Stephen Tulloch, DET; LOLB – Chad Greenway, MN
Matthews is an elite pass rusher and one of the best linebackers in the NFL. In his five-year career, he’s averaged 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 50 tackles per season. Unfortunately, injuries have held Matthews back a bit, but when healthy, there aren’t many other outside linebackers who play at his level.
Tulloch is a tackling machine in the middle of Detroit’s defense, but is far from elite at the position. Tulloch is the best of a weak inside linebacker group in the NFC North.
Greenway is Minnesota’s best kept secret. The veteran linebacker has finished as one of the team’s top tacklers for the past four seasons and has made plays both as a blitzer with 14.5 careers sacks and dropping in coverage with nine career interceptions.
Reserves: Anthony Barr, MN; DeAndre Levy, DET; Lance Briggs, CHI
Barr is incredibly gifted as an athlete and is still fresh in his conversion from a former college running back to linebacker. Barr can bring pressure off the edge and will be interesting to see how Minnesota uses the dynamic rookie in their defense.
Levy had a breakout year in 2013 and proved to be one of the best linebackers in pass coverage, recording 15 passes defensed and 6 interceptions last season.
Briggs’ best years are behind him, but the 12-year veteran is still a gritty, savvy defender behind the line of scrimmage.