Which players have the look of a future star in the NFC North? Our division reporters give their picks:
Courtney Cronin, Minnesota Vikings reporter: Dalvin Cook. The rookie running back was on pace to break more than a few Vikings franchise records when he tore his ACL in Week 4. The dynamic rusher notched 354 yards rushing (4.8 per carry) and two touchdowns to go along with 90 yards receiving last season, establishing himself as a premier three-down back whose playmaking ability made him one of the most important pieces of Minnesota's offense. He'll be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year and may even contend for the rushing title in 2018. The Vikings' offense will go as far as Cook and the run game take it. While quarterback Kirk Cousins has been the focus of the offseason, Cook's triumphant return this fall will play a major role in Minnesota's success.
Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Packers reporter: Cook. He offered a glimpse as a rookie before tearing his ACL four weeks into the season. Up to that point, he was doing his best Adrian Peterson impersonation. Cook opened with a 127-yard game and in less than four full games had rushed for 354 yards (averaging 4.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Yes, the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to be the focal point of their offense, but having a dominant running back could be more important to a team that wants to control the ball and rely on its dominant defense.
Jeff Dickerson, Chicago Bears reporter: Tarik Cohen. The Bears running back, a fourth-round pick, proved as a rookie that he can be an explosive playmaker on offense and special teams despite being listed at 5-foot-6, 179 pounds. Cohen averaged 4.3 yards per rushing attempt, caught 53 passes and returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown. But the best is yet to come. He should be even more dangerous this season after the Bears upgraded their offensive scheme and their skill position players at wide receiver and tight end. Defenses will no longer be able to focus on stopping Cohen and Jordan Howard. The Bears' new supporting cast on offense definitely will make life easier for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, but it should also help Cohen have an even better season.
Michael Rothstein, Detroit Lions reporter: Darius Slay. The Lions cornerback is a known commodity in the division and was a Pro Bowler last season, but Slay is still not well known nationally because of the position he plays. However, a combination of his personality and another standout season should bring more leaguewide notice from the general public. Slay had 60 tackles to go along with a career-best 26 passes defended and eight interceptions last season. He has a real shot to become one of the top cornerbacks in the league in 2018.