By solidifying offensive line, Lions look to be NFC North's most improved

The Lions shored up the right side of their offensive line by adding Rick Wagner, above, and T.J. Lang, but they weren't the only team to improve in the NFC North. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Which team in the NFC North improved itself most through free agency? ESPN's NFC North reporters make their picks:

Rob Demovsky, Packers reporter: The Vikings' lack of running game last season after Adrian Peterson's knee injury ultimately prevented them from living up to expectations. Enter Latavius Murray, the former Raiders running back who should flourish with the help of a rebuilt offensive line that included fellow free-agent signings Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. With a running back like Murray, the top-ranked back on ESPN's list of the top 150 free agents, the Vikings should be back to challenging the Packers and Lions for playoff spots out of the NFC North. This could be the missing piece for a team that already has a championship defense and a capable quarterback.

Jeff Dickerson, Bears reporter: This is a close race between Detroit and Green Bay, but I'll take the Packers because they brought back Nick Perry and landed tight end Martellus Bennett. Re-signing Perry was a must after he made 12 sacks (including playoffs) in 2016. At 26 years old, Perry is entering the prime of his career. Losing him would have been a tough blow for Green Bay's defense. Bennett is a bit goofy -- I covered him for three years in Chicago -- but he's the ultimate Sunday player. Bennett gives maximum effort on game day, and is almost impossible to tackle with just one defender. Bennett had problems in Chicago -- why else would the Bears trade a former Pro Bowl tight end? -- but he'll fall in line for Aaron Rodgers, the same way he did for Tom Brady in New England. Plus, Green Bay did not overpay for Bennett. That's important. You have to keep him hungry.

Ben Goessling, Vikings reporter: I like what the Lions did to solidify their offensive line in front of Matthew Stafford. They signed the top right tackle on the market, beating out the Vikings (and the other teams) who were after Rick Wagner. They added T.J. Lang, who, if he's healthy, should provide a boost at right guard. The moves the Lions made to add players like Paul Worrilow, Akeem Spence and D.J. Hayden on defense could be met with varying results. But give Bob Quinn credit for continuing to improve a unit that had struggled to protect Stafford in recent years. Taylor Decker had an impressive first year at left tackle, and the Lions should have a solid front to keep Stafford upright after one of his best seasons in the league.

Michael Rothstein, Lions reporter: I'm going to stick with the team I cover here, the Lions. None of their moves will garner much attention nationally or bring a new star to Detroit -- at least not directly. But the Lions upgraded the right side of their offensive line with Wagner and Lang. Those two players should provide better protection for Stafford and aid an ailing run game. Darren Fells might be the under-the-radar signing that helps Detroit the most. As one of the top run-blocking tight ends in the league, his skill set should open up bigger holes for Ameer Abdullah, who has a chance to be a breakout player this season. Detroit also added some defensive depth with Cornelius Washington, Akeem Spence and Jordan Hill on the defensive line and Hayden in the secondary. General manager Bob Quinn has said multiple times that he needed to improve the middle of the Lions' roster and for the second straight year, on paper, he's done that while turning Detroit's offensive line from a question to a strength for the first time since at least 2013.