NFL

Most Important Non-QB’s For Each Team In The NFC

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We know that the lifeblood of any NFL team is the quarterback.  They get too much credit when the team is winning and likely too much blame when it isn’t.

With that said, we’re going to look at the most important non-quarterback’s on each squad.  We began with the AFC and now we’re moving to the NFC.

NFC East

Washington Redskins: Josh Norman-Sure, Norman hasn’t suited up yet for the NFC East champs, but he’s the best football player on the team. Washington won the division in a down year and they will need a better effort from everyone if they’re going to repeat as champs, and the gift of Norman in free agency is ultra-important.

New York Giants: Odell Beckham, Jr.- You can make a case for the newly acquired Olivier Vernon considering the need for a pass rush on a pretty bad defense, but Beckham is on the shortest list of top wide receivers in football. OBJ makes Eli Manning better and he’s as valuable as anyone, considering the uncertain health of Victor Cruz.

Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox- The powerful defensive lineman isn’t a flashy player, but he’s arguably the best on the team. Cox will do the dirty work sucking up blocks while players like Connor Barwin and Vinny Curry get to opposing quarterbacks.

Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith- A case can certainly be made for Dez Bryant, but Smith is the premiere left tackle in the NFC and perhaps the best in the NFL. As great as the Cowboys offensive line figures to be, Smith is the anchor of it and without him they would be exposed on the left side.

NFC North

Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson- Peterson is the only running back in the NFL to make this list. He is the heart, soul and entire offensive identity of the Vikings and has been for a decade. There’s no telling how much longer he has as a premiere back, but Minnesota doesn’t want to find out what life is without him.

Green Bay Packers: Clay Matthews- Although 2015 was somewhat of a down year for Matthews, he is clearly the team’s second best player. So much of the Packers identity is tied to Aaron Rodgers (perhaps too much), the team has a lack of impact players on the defensive side of the ball.

Detroit Lions: Golden Tate- It’s now Tate’s time to shine as Calvin Johnson announced his somewhat premature retirement early in the offseason. Tate is an explosive player who was often overlooked and now he’s going to have to assume the role of No. 1 receiver.

Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery- In his first year playing without Brandon Marshall, Jeffery proved that he has the goods to deliver as a No. 1 receiver. He is a dominant force when healthy, and the Bears will have to lean on the player they franchised as Kevin White will be suiting up for the first time in 2016.

NFC South

Carolina Panthers: Luke Kuechly- It simply doesn’t get any better at the linebacker position than Kuechly. He is the heart and soul of the Panthers stingy defense and he and the pass rush will be counted on more than ever since the team lost Josh Norman in free agency.

New Orleans Saints: Cam Jordan- One of the best defensive linemen in football, Jordan is often a forgotten man as he doesn’t have a plethora of talent around him. The team spent a good portion of the draft trying to rebuild the defense, and Jordan should flourish in 2016.

Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones- Quarterbacks usually make the receiver, but Jones is the one who elevates the play of not only quarterback Matt Ryan, but every one of the wide receivers that line up on the opposite side of him. His impact even stretches to the running game, as teams wouldn’t dare line up an eighth man in the box when Julio is on the field.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lavonte David-You can certainly make a case for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy or even wide receiver Vincent Jackson, but David gets the nod. The athletic linebacker is one of the most underrated players in football and his sideline to sideline ability sets the tone for the entire Bucs defense.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson- Peterson is a Top 5 cornerback on anyone’s list and he allows the team to bring exotic blitzes with his coverage abilities. The Cards don’t have a lot of elite talent on the defensive side of the ball but they make up for it with scheme and Peterson is a major reason for it.

Seattle Seahawks: Michael Bennett- The outspoken, never satisfied with his contract (because he always outplays it) Bennett is the Swiss Army Knife of the Seattle defense. He can line up inside or outside, and rush the passer from anywhere in any scheme. With all apologies to Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner, Bennett is the best player on the ‘Hawks defense.

Los Angeles Rams: Aaron Donald- With Todd Gurley’s stellar rookie season, this pick wasn’t a complete no-brainer. Still, Donald is one of the very best defensive players in the game and his selection was a brilliant move by general manager Les Snead.

San Francisco 49ers: Navarro Bowman- The 49ers have arguably the worst roster in the NFL, but Bowman remains and plays very well. The super-sized inside linebacker is one of the most athletic players at his position and he came back from a broken leg seemingly just as strong as he was prior to it.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.