Packers dominate All-NFC North defensive starting lineup in 2024

Green Bay Packers, Jaire Alexander
Green Bay Packers, Jaire Alexander / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

There's no denying the NFC North's offensive firepower, but there is less certainty on the other side of the ball.

The Green Bay Packers often underachieved under former defensive coordinator Joe Barry despite investing countless first-round picks on defense.

In the final nine games of last season, the Detroit Lions allowed an average of 25.6 points per game. The Chicago Bears finished strong but had the eighth-worst passing defense. The Minnesota Vikings were average in most categories, although they had a top-10 run defense.

Each team has made significant changes. Green Bay hired Jeff Hafley, invested heavily at safety and linebacker, and will adjust to a new philosophy. Detroit aggressively upgraded its secondary by trading for Carlton Davis before drafting Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. Chicago's decision to trade for Montez Sweat helped turn around its defensive performances last year.

Having put together our All-NFC North offense, it's time to build the perfect starting lineup on defense, featuring players from all four teams.

All-NFC North Defense: Packers lead the way with four selections

Interior defensive line: Kenny Clark, Packers

A three-time Pro Bowler with 34 career sacks, Kenny Clark is a must-have in this starting lineup. The best could still be yet to come for Clark with the Packers' shift to a 4-3 defense, allowing him to make more plays as an interior pass rusher.

Interior defensive line: D.J. Reader, Lions

D.J. Reader is a great addition to the Lions' defensive front. The 29-year-old is a strong interior pass rusher and excellent run defender. He enters his ninth season in the NFL and can help level-up the Lions' defensive line.

Edge rusher: Aidan Hutchinson, Lions

Aidan Hutchinson is quickly becoming one of the league's best pass rushers and earned his first Pro Bowl honors last season. Hutchinson improved his sack and QB hit totals from 9.5 and 15 to 11.5 and 33 last year. The best is still yet to come from Hutchinson.

Edge rusher: Rashan Gary, Packers

Rashan Gary was eased back into action last season after coming off a significant injury, but he still made nine sacks and 22 quarterback hits. Gary has All-Pro potential and can reach that level with more consistency.

Linebacker: T.J. Edwards, Bears

T.J. Edwards is coming off an impressive first season in Chicago, finishing with 155 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, three interceptions, and four pass defenses. He makes plays against the run and pass.

Linebacker: Tremaine Edmunds, Bears

Tremaine Edmunds didn't play with the same consistency as Edwards. He missed 13 tackles in year one with the Bears, per Pro Football Reference. However, Edmunds is a two-time Pro Bowler and still showed his ability with four interceptions and seven pass defenses. Expect a bounce-back season in 2024.

Cornerback: Jaire Alexander, Packers

Jaire Alexander struggled to stay healthy last season but is still one of the best cornerbacks in football. The two-time Pro Bowler and two-time second-team All-Pro should thrive in Jeff Hafley's more aggressive system.

Cornerback: Jaylon Johnson, Bears

Jaylon Johnson has become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFC, earning second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors last season. Per Pro Football Reference, he allowed a passer rating of just 50.9 in his coverage while breaking up 10 passes and intercepting four.

Slot cornerback: Brian Branch, Lions

Brian Branch can play multiple positions in the secondary, but he mostly lined up in the slot for Detroit last season. Branch impressed as a rookie, making 13 pass defenses and three interceptions, including a pick-six against the Kansas City Chiefs in his NFL debut.

Safety: Xavier McKinney, Packers

Xavier McKinney is a rising star, which is why the Packers made him one of the highest-paid safeties in the league. Per PFF, McKinney allowed zero touchdowns on 53 targets in 592 snaps last season. He is perfect for Jeff Hafley's system and could have an All-Pro year in 2024.

Safety: Harrison Smith, Vikings

Harrison Smith is entering his 13th season with the Vikings and is still an excellent starting safety. The former first-round pick is a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro.

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