As a team, the Green Bay Packers are currently the class of the NFC North. This is not really up for debate; the club has won the past four division titles and took home the Lombardi Trophy the last time they fell short of a division crown back in 2010.
As a collection of individual talent, though? Well, at least according to one source, the Packers still reign supreme in the Black and Blue division.
Pro Football Focus recently updated their team depth charts for 2015, reflecting signings during free agency and the teams' draft choices. Each player gets assigned to a category: Elite, High Quality, Good, Average, Below Average, Poor, or not enough information (including rookies). Breaking the teams down along these lines can help illustrate the talent level on each squad, as well as draw comparisons between them.
The Packers have the following numbers of players at the various categories:
Elite: 4 (Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Josh Sitton)
High Quality: 6
Below Average: 9
Not enough info/rookies: 54
First off, let's look briefly at some of the surprise grades given to some Packers. Arguably the biggest surprise is Clay Matthews being named "High Quality" instead of "Elite." Another would be Casey Hayward ranking as "High Quality" while presumptive starter Sam Shields is simply "Good." I was also surprised to see Sean Richardson in the "needs more information" category, as he has played three seasons in the NFL and has a pretty well-established role at this point. Finally, it seems that PFF is ranking these players exclusively based on their 2014 grades, not accounting for improvement made late in the season.
Still, when comparing this roster to that of the rest of the division, it's clear that one team stands head and shoulders above the rest, at least in the estimation of Pro Football Focus.
|Not enough info/rookie||54||46||46||49|
When you look at just the players labeled "Good" and above, the Vikings and Lions actually have 15 total, one more than the Packers, However, Green Bay's squad tilts to the top end of that scale, with more elite players than the rest of the NFC North combined. In fact, if you set the cutoff at "High Quality," you find that the Packers boast 10 of the 25 best players in the division.
It is also worthy of note that the Packers have no "Poor" players on their roster, a testament to Ted Thompson's moves this offseason (longtime Packer A.J. Hawk is listed as "Poor" for the Bengals) and to the team's ability to successfully develop its young players and cut bait with those who do not develop (think Jerel Worthy, for example).
Finally, only two of the Packers' top 10 players are in the final year of their contracts, suggesting that the core of this squad should remain intact for the foreseeable future.
Yes, it's a good time to be a Packers fan, and never hurts to be reminded of that by an unbiased source.