Aaron Rodgers was not the best player in the NFC North during the 2016 season, according to Pro Football Focus. Nor was it one of Rodgers' offensive weapons, a Vikings' stud defender, Lions' playmaker or a rising Bears' star.
The best player in the NFC North was former undrafted D3 player who's bounced around the CFL and NFL for nearly a decade and played just 12 games last season, his first in the division.
Here are Pro Football Focus' top 10 highest-graded NFC North players from 2016
1. Jerrell Freeman – LB, Chicago Bears
There's a lot to unpack here. Not only was Jerrell Freeman the highest-graded NFC North player in 2016, he was also the highest-graded linebacker (0.8 points above Luke Kuechly) and the fifth-highest-graded player at any position.
Let the outrage begin.
2. Aaron Rodgers – QB, Green Bay Packers
The third-ranked quarterback (Tom Brady, 98.0; Matt Ryan, 92.6) Aaron Rodgers had both the most total snaps (1,247) and pass snaps (833) of any quarterback.
His run grade of 84.7 was the highest among quarterbacks.
3. David Bakhtiari – OT, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers' blind-side protector, David Bakhtiari had a spectacular season after signing a four-year, $52 million contract last September. He was the seventh-highest-graded offensive tackle in the league and and the second-highest-graded pass-blocker among tackles.
4. Mike Daniels – DT, Green Bay Packers
Mike Daniels is light years behind Aaron Donald, the top defensive tackle (98.5), but he still had another really solid season, ranking ninth among all players at his position. He was one of only six players who graded at least 82 in both run defense and pass rush.
5. Quintin Demps – S, Chicago Bears
The highest-graded 2016 defensive back playing in the NFC North this year, Quintin Demps earned his 86.7 grade with the Houston Texans. He was consistent in both coverage (84.6) and against the run (84.1), while providing adequate help as a pass-rusher (61.2).
6. Terence Newman – CB, Minnesota Vikings
Not only did you not guess that Terence Newman was the only Vikings' highest-graded defensive back, you also didn't guess he was the highest-graded defensive back in the division. He was the ninth-rated corner both overall and against the pass (85.7).
7. T.J. Lang – G, Detroit Lions
T.J. Lang, the lone top-10 player who switched NFC North teams over the offseason, left the Packers in free agency after posting a top-10 guard grade.
Though widely lauded as a terrific run-blocker, Lang was the second-rated pass-blocking guard in the league. His 90.8 grade sat behind only Baltimore's Marshal Yanda (92.6).
8. Matthew Stafford – QB, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford's 85.8 grade was earned on 712 pass snaps, fifth in the NFL. His overall grade ranked ahead of Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins and Ben Roethlisberger.
9. Cody Whitehair – C, Detroit Lions
Cody Whitehair is on his way to being one of the steals of the 2016 draft. The second-round pick from Kansas State, Whitehair was the sixth-highest-graded center in the league.
He was the fourth-rated pass-blocking center (86.5) and one of only three centers with a pass-blocking grade of at least 86 and run-blocking grade of at least 80.
10. Josh Sitton – G, Chicago Bears
In his first season with the Bears, Josh Sitton made only 12 starts — his lowest since his rookie year (2008) — due to injury.
Like former teammate T.J. Lang, Sitton has been a revered run-blocker for years, but it's his 89.3 pass-blocking grade (fourth among guards) that stands out.