1 Breakout Player From Each NFC North Team For 2024 NFL Season

Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC North contains two of the conference’s best teams in the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, both of whom gave the San Francisco 49ers a run for their money in the playoffs last winter.

But there is another club that may be prepared to crash the party: the Chicago Bears.

There is a whole lot of hype surrounding the Bears heading into 2024 thanks to Caleb Williams and some lethal offensive weapons, but they have a pretty big mountain to climb.

The Lions won 12 games in 2023, and the Packers are considered dark horse Super Bowl contenders by some. Even the Minnesota Vikings won’t be pushovers.

This will be one of the most interesting divisions to monitor during the 2024 NFL campaign, so here is one player from each NFC North squad that could break out this coming season.

Chicago Bears: Tyrique Stevenson, CB.

Most—if not all—of the focus is on Chicago’s offense going into 2024, and understandably so. However, the Bears actually went 7-6 over their final 13 games last season on the strength of their defense.

More specifically, Chicago did it thanks largely due to an impressive secondary.

We already know about cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who stamped his name among the best defensive backs in football in 2023 by making the Pro Bowl. He then landed a lucrative four-year deal from the Bears this offseason, keeping him around for the long haul.

But Tyrique Stevenson flew under the radar in spite of some very positive play.

Stevenson had a terrific rookie campaign, racking up 86 tackles, four interceptions, a couple of forced fumbles and 16 passes defended. He got better as the season progressed, and by the end of the year, he was displaying lockdown corner potential.

Look for the 24-year-old to continue his ascension in 2024 and comprise one of the best cornerback duos in football alongside of Johnson.

Detroit Lions: Jameson Williams, WR.

I think everyone is waiting for this one.

The Lions took Jameson Williams in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but injuries and a gambling suspension have prevented him from getting a running start.

However, Williams showed significant promise toward the end of 2023, and he even recorded a pair of touchdowns—one receiving, one rushing—in the NFC Championship Game.

There is a reason why Detroit took Williams with the 12th overall pick two years ago. He has blazing speed and showed some improvement as a route runner down the stretch this past season. While he doesn’t possess the greatest hands, his freakish athleticism still makes him a potentially deadly target.

The Lions lost No. 2 receiver Josh Reynolds to free agency this offseason, so they will be looking for Williams to step into that role behind Amon-Ra St. Brown. This is Williams’ chance to show Detroit that he belongs. If he doesn’t take advantage of it, it will spell major trouble for his career going forward.

Green Bay Packers: Luke Musgrave, TE.

There is a lot of hoopla surrounding the Packers’ wide receivers entering 2024, and deservedly do. The quartet of Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs and Dontayvion Wicks is oozing with potential and could drive secondaries insane come September.

But there is one key name who has been forgotten in the mix: tight end Luke Musgrave.

Green Bay took Musgrave in the second round of last year’s NFL Draft, and in 11 games during his rookie campaign, he displayed terrific talent, catching 34 passes for 352 yards and four touchdowns. A brutal kidney injury abbreviated his season.

The 23-year-old represented a very reliable target for Jordan Love in 2023, posting a catch rate of 73.9 percent. He has phenomenal hands and incredible athleticism. Not only that, but he is a decent route runner and also a solid blocker.

Musgrave has the potential to become one of the best tight ends in football, and with Love on the rise himself, look for the duo to form a dangerous combination this coming season.

Minnesota Vikings: Ivan Pace Jr, LB.

In an NFL age where inside linebackers are losing their primacy thanks to the importance of edge rushers, you probably wouldn’t name one as a possible breakout candidate for 2024.

Well, you then may not have seen Ivan Pace Jr.

The Vikings picked up Pace as an undrafted free agent last spring, and expectations were obviously low. However, he not only ended up making the team, but he played in every game and made 11 starts in 2023, finishing with 102 tackles, 2.5 sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Talk about filling up the stat sheet.

Pace doesn’t have the greatest size at 5-foot-10, but he has a fantastic motor and high football IQ that compensates for his lack of physical gifts. He also possesses a tremendous nose for the ball.

The 23-year-old earned a very impressive 77.1 grade from Pro Football Focus for his work last year, and with superstar edge rusher Danielle Hunter gone, Pace will need to make up that much more ground for Minnesota next season.

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