Today's question: Who is the rising star in the NFC North?
Rob Demovsky, Packers: It might be hard for him to put up major numbers because he has Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in front of him, but second-year Packers receiver Davante Adams has big-game potential. Just look at what he did against the Patriots last year -- six catches for 121 yards. Or in the playoff game against the Cowboys -- seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, he gained the trust of Aaron Rodgers, who now is not afraid to look for Adams in clutch situations. If teams want to try to take away Cobb and Nelson, which is what the Patriots did, Adams can beat them, too.
Jeff Dickerson, Bears: Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy is about to be mentioned in the same breath as the NFL’s other elite tailbacks, if he isn't already. A powerful runner, Lacy averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 2014, rushing for 1,139 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught 42 passes for 427 yards and four touchdowns. In this first two years in the league, Lacy has 2,317 yards, 20 touchdowns and 77 receptions. He just seems to be scratching the surface. Sure, Lacy benefits from playing with superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but coach Mike McCarthy is not afraid to run the football. Lacy carried the ball 530 times from 2013-14. At 25 years old, Lacy’s best football is ahead of him, making him the NFC North’s rising star, barring injury, in 2015.
Ben Goessling, Vikings: I’m going to pick Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who finished last season with the seventh-highest passer rating and third-highest completion percentage by a rookie in NFL history. Bridgewater did all that with a rickety offensive line and an ever-changing cast of skill-position players. With Adrian Peterson by his side, he’ll have the weapons for an impressive second season. He seems to be in lockstep with the Vikings’ coaches and he’ll probably get even more control of the offense at the line of scrimmage as he matures.
Michael Rothstein, Lions: This depends on how you view Randall Cobb and Golden Tate. Since they’ve become Pro Bowl players, are they already considered stars? If they are -- and for the purposes of this, we’ll say they are -- then let’s look at the defensive line of the Detroit Lions. Ezekiel Ansah was a raw prospect when the Lions took him with the No. 5 pick in the 2013 draft. He has increased his skill and production throughout his first two years, and if he can handle playing on a line without Ndamukong Suh, he could have a breakout season in his third year in the league. He has the speed to be a dominant pass-rusher as a 4-3 end, the size and length to stop the run on the edge and, if he lets it show, the personality to be engaging in the public eye. Plus, having been born in Ghana, he’s a player the league could use heavily in international promotional opportunities if his on-field talent continues to ascend. Ansah could have a massive season after compiling 81 tackles and 15.5 sacks in his first two years in the league.