NFC North Team Needs: Vikings searching for receiving help; Lions prioritizing O-line

Raj Mehta / USA TODAY Sports

theScore goes division by division to identify the biggest positional needs for all 32 NFL teams entering free agency.


Minnesota Vikings

Biggest need: Wide receiver

Other needs: Offensive line, safety

Despite their heartbreaking 10-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round, the Vikings made significant strides during the 2015 season. They won their first NFC North title since 2009, had the fourth-best rushing offense in the NFL, and got some solid performances out of their rookie class - particularly wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Minnesota's biggest offseason need will be finding another receiver to compliment Diggs. Mike Wallace is coming off the least-productive season of his career (39 catches, 473 yards, two touchdowns), while former first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson finished with a measly two catches for 10 yards.

With Andrew Sendejo and Robert Blanton heading toward free agency, the Vikings will have to address the safety position. The offensive line could also use some bolstering.

Potential free-agent targets: With the Bears placing the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery, the Vikings could look towards Marvin Jones and Travis Benjamin to fill their need at wide receiver. Eric Weddle has been a consistent playmaker throughout his career, although he is getting up there in age. George Iloka, who played under head coach Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati, is another safety that could be on the Vikings' wish list.

Green Bay Packers

Biggest need: Inside linebacker

Other needs: Tight end, offensive line, running back, defensive line

The Packers started last season off with a bang, winning six straight. The latter half of the season was full of ups and downs, though, culminating with their 26-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC divisional playoff game.

As the team looks toward the 2016 season, finding a starting-caliber inside linebacker figures to be high on its to-do list. Clay Matthews spent the past season and a half at the inside position, but the Packers want to move him back to outside linebacker in 2016.

Finding a downfield threat at tight end should also be a high priority, and after the rash of injuries that hit their offensive line last season, they could use some depth there. Depending on what happens with impending free agent James Starks, the Packers may be in the market for a running back as well.

Potential free-agent targets: Danny Trevathan could prove to be a wise free agent pickup for the Packers. He's young, three-down linebacker who excels in pass coverage. Jerrell Freeman and Derrick Johnson would also be worth a look. At tight end, Ladarius Green and Dwayne Allen are among the names Green Bay could target.

Detroit Lions

Biggest need: Offensive line

Other needs: Wide receiver, defensive line, cornerback, linebacker

Jim Caldwell immediately turned the team around in his first season as the Lions' head coach, guiding them to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. Things took a much different turn in 2015, as the Lions opened the year 1-7. They came on strong in the second half, but it wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs.

After averaging a league-worst 83.4 rushing yards per game and allowing quarterback Matthew Stafford to be sacked 44 times, upgrading the offensive line will be a top priority for the Lions.

Adding a wide receiver will also be key with Calvin Johnson mulling retirement. And with Haloti Ngata set to hit the open market, they'll also need to solidify the defensive line and add a playmaker on the interior.

Potential free-agent targets: Donald Penn appears likely to hit the open market, and Detroit would be wise to target him. Andre Smith and Russell Okung would also be solid additions to the offensive line. This year's free agent receiver class isn't great, but it's a position the Lions needs to address. Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, or Jermaine Kearse could fill the void.

Chicago Bears

Biggest need: Inside linebacker

Other needs: Defensive line, safety, cornerback, offensive line, tight end

The Bears went 6-10 in John Fox's first season as head coach, leaving plenty of room for improvement. The team has already parted ways with running back Matt Forte and left tackle Jermon Bushrod, and with a projected $55 million in cap space, has the money to add some key building blocks in free agency.

Inside linebacker is a priority position for Chicago heading into 2016, as Shea McClellin is set to become a free agent and Christian Jones was deemed "inconsistent" by defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Veteran Antrel Rolle was signed last season to help stabilize the safety position, but only played in seven games due to injury.

On the other side of the ball, the Bears will need to target an offensive tackle and possibly a tight end or two, depending on what they decide to do with Zach Miller and Martellus Bennett, who is reportedly seeking a trade.

Potential free-agent targets: Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan were both drafted by the Broncos during Fox's tenure, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bears target them in free agency. Akiem Hicks also has a connection to the organization through general manager Ryan Pace. At safety, the Bears could turn to Tashaun Gipson or Rodney McLeod.