We are a little over halfway through the season, with only 8 weeks left of NFL action. It’s time to look back and give out the awards for The NFC North Teams. The awards we will be looking at include Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of The Year, Defensive Player of The Year, Offensive Rookie of The Year, and Defensive Rookie of The Year.
Defensive Rookie Of The Year: DL Aidan Hutchinson (Detroit)
There have been many standout rookie defenders in The NFC North this year, with honorable mentions going to Bears safety Jaquan Brisker, Packers linebacker Quay Walker, and Lions linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, but I have to give the nod to the number two overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. Hutchinson leads all rookies with 5.5 sacks, tacking on 28 total tackles and an interception. While his numbers don’t jump off the page, the former heisman candidate has been a rock solid piece on a disappointing Lions defense.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year: OL Braxton Jones (Chicago)
It was difficult to pick a winner for this category, as not many rookies on the offensive side of the ball have shined in The NFC North. Honorable mentions to Packers wide receivers Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson respectively, but neither have been key players on Green Bay’s offense. I decided to give the nod to rookie left tackle of The Chicago Bears, Braxton Jones. The 5th round pick has become quite the solid piece for Chicago in recent weeks after a poor start to the season. A mauler in the run-game and excellent in pass-protection, The Southern Utah prospect has outperformed several first round offensive tackles. Jones has only allowed 8 pressures and 1 sack over the last 4 games, and was perfect against The Detroit Lions in week 10, not allowing a single pressure. Jones will be a key piece on a rebuilding Bears offense moving forward, and was maybe the steal of the draft.
Defensive Player Of The Year: LB Za’Darius Smith (Minnesota)
The free agent pickup of Za’Darius Smith was one of the most underrated signings of the offseason. The former Packer was excellent in his time in Green Bay, and nobody seemed to talk about how big of a pickup it was for Minnesota. In his first season with The Vikings, Smith has only led the NFL in pressures with 55, and has 8.5 sacks (second in the NFL). Smith has been one of the most dominant pass rushers through 10 weeks of football, and is well in play for The NFL Defensive Player of The Year Award.
Offensive Player Of The Year/ Most Valuable Player: WR Justin Jefferson (Minnesota)
As much as I would like to give the Offensive Player Of The Year and Most Valuable Player Award to two different players, it is only fitting that wide receiver Justin Jefferson takes home both awards. Jefferson has been phenomenal in 2022, with 1,060 receiving yards, 69 receptions, and 4 touchdowns, Jefferson has cemented himself as one of, if not the best pass catcher in the NFL. He absolutely showed out in week 10 against The Buffalo Bills, where he had 10 receptions, 193 yards, and a touchdown. He pulled down one of the most spectacular one-handed catches you will ever see, on the final drive of the fourth quarter. Jefferson is easily the most valuable player on The Minnesota Vikings, as they sit at 8-1 on the season.