Packers: Power ranking NFC North by position groups in 2021

Green Bay Packers, Randall Cobb (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Randall Cobb (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers, Robert Tonyan (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Tight ends

1. Packers

Robert Tonyan continues to get better and better. He had 11 touchdown catches last season but could have an even bigger role this year. Tonyan has received a lot of praise for his work on the practice field this summer. Green Bay also has an excellent blocking tight end in Marcedes Lewis.

2. Lions

Finally, some love for the Lions. T.J. Hockenson is the key here. An ascending player entering year three, Hockenson could soon be one of the best tight ends in football. He had 723 yards and six touchdowns last season, making his first Pro Bowl. Expect him to be Jared Goff’s favorite target with Golladay and Jones gone. Hockenson might be the best tight end in the NFC North, but the Lions don’t have the depth the Packers have at the position.

3. Bears

A lot will come down to second-year Cole Kmet, who is listed as a starter ahead of Jimmy Graham on the Bears’ depth chart. A second-round pick last spring, Kmet will be expected to make a jump in year two. Graham provides some much-needed depth.

4. Vikings

Irv Smith Jr. enters an important third season with the Vikings. He has 676 yards and seven touchdowns in two years. Will this be a breakout season for Smith?