From Jordan Addison to Roschon Johnson to Lukas Van Ness, the NFC North saw immediate production from its fresh batch of rookies.
The NFC North witnessed its first opening week without Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers since 1992. Truly the mark of a new era, the Packers turn the keys over to former first-rounder Jordan Love. Elsewhere in the division, Justin Fields looks to take a leap while the Vikings and Lions hope to build on successful 2022 campaigns.
NFC North Rookie Roundup — Week 1
One key component on each of the NFC North squads this season? Rookies, rookies, and more rookies! Let’s go on a quick rundown of how each team’s first-year players fared in Week 1. Without further ado… Jordan Addison, you are up!
Minnesota Vikings — Jordan Addison Is Legit
The Minnesota Vikings set out to find a capable running partner for Justin Jefferson at wide receiver. During the 2023 NFL Draft, the front office found exactly that. Jordan Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff winner, came off the board toward the end of Round 1, causing an instant joyous reaction from the fan base.
Addison is a crafty route runner who wins with a suddenness as he works downfield. Not overly fast, the young wideout excels by changing direction on a dime and leaving defenders in his wake. His ability to burn defenders was never more apparent than on his first career touchdown reception.
Kirk Cousins dropped back, saw Addison breaking free behind the defense, and delivered a dime to his new wide receiver for six points. It is a scary proposition for any opposing secondary, having to defend Jefferson AND Addison. Things are just getting started for this exciting tandem.
Detroit Lions — Jahmyr Gibbs Is A Star, But Be Patient
The Lions received instant contributions from its two Iowa draft picks — LB Jack Campbell and TE Sam LaPorta. But the most exciting player only logged a minuscule percentage of snaps on Thursday night vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.
Detroit shocked the NFL Draft community by taking Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12 overall. That surprise is not an indictment of Gibbs’ talent. But it was jarring to see him come off the board immediately after Bijan Robinson went to the Atlanta Falcons.
All offseason, the Lions have teased deploying Gibbs in a jack-of-all-trades role for the offense. Alas, that did not come to fruition — at least not in Week 1. When the Alabama product did touch the football, he made exciting play after exciting play, none more so than this first-down spin-cycle carry.
David Montgomery will remain a key member of the offensive attack in 2023, but expect Ben Johnson to add more and more to Gibbs’ workload as the year goes on. He is a star in the making. It is a matter of “when”… not “if”.
Chicago Bears — Roschon Johnson Already Making Charge For RB1 Duties
The Bears opened the regular season with Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman perched atop the depth chart at running back. To be fair, Herbert and Foreman are decent ball carriers. However, neither one boasts anything close to the ceiling of 2023 fourth-rounder Roschon Johnson.
Johnson carried the ball four times on Sunday for 20 yards and a touchdown, while also adding six receptions for 35 more yards through the air. This versatility, and Johnson’s tackle-breaking proficiency, is why Bears’ fans are already clamoring for more touches to their rookie.
It likely won’t happen in Week 2, but this backfield is destined to be led by Roschon Johnson sooner rather than later. And as Texas Longhorn fans already know — Johnson is ready to get his chance at a full workload.
Green Bay Packers — Lukas Van Ness Is Progressing Nicely On The Defensive Line
The Packers took a raw but traitsy defender out of Iowa in the first round this past April. Lukas Van Ness sent shockwaves around the NFL Combine by posting numbers that a player his size should not be capable of producing.
The one-of-one athletic profile made it easier for teams to project Van Ness’ development at the next level. In college, LVN mostly won with power, using his trademark bullrush to walk his assignments back into the pocket.
As we know, the NFL is a different story. One-trick ponies don’t last; well-rounded defenders do. In his NFL debut, Van Ness flexed more polish than expected. He still has work to do in controlling his aggression, but coaches would rather have to slow him down than try to speed him up.
The Packers have a much better roster than a lot of NFL media cares to admit. With Aaron Rodgers firmly in the rearview, it is ‘all systems go’ toward developing the next wave of talent in Green Bay. Lukas Van Ness is the pillar on defense.