- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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Today's question: Is it a stretch to think the Minnesota Vikings could have the best defense in the division by the middle of this season, if not sooner?
Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Packers: I know this: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has always raved about Mike Zimmer's defenses. Just look at the game in Minneapolis last season. Rodgers had all kinds of trouble moving the ball in that game. He threw for just 209 yards -- his second-lowest total in the final 11 weeks of the regular season. The Vikings only got better by drafting cornerback Trae Waynes in the first round and linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second round. They were just outside the top 10 in scoring defense last season, ranking 11th at an average of 21.4 points per game allowed. That was the second-best scoring defense in the division last season, ranking behind the Lions (who were third at 17.6 points allowed per game). This could be the best defense in the division in 2015.
Jeff Dickerson, Chicago Bears: I don't think it's necessary to wait until the middle of next season. Minnesota has the division's best defense in May, at least on paper. With all due respect to Chicago, Green Bay and Detroit, Zimmer's team is loaded on the defensive side of the ball. The Vikings boast an impressive defensive line led by Brian Robison, Sharrif Floyd and Everson Griffen; three quality linebackers in Anthony Barr, Chad Greenway and rookie Kendricks; and ball hawk safety Harrison Smith in the secondary. Plus, Minnesota invested a first-round pick in Waynes, who is expected to contribute immediately. Despite losing Ndamukong Suh in free agency, the Lions still have a strong defense, but I give the slight edge to Minnesota. It also doesn't hurt that Zimmer's specialty is defense.
Michael Rothstein, Detroit Lions: Definitely not a stretch at all. Other than at cornerback, the Vikings appear strong and somewhat deep at every spot on defense. Greenway is a smart, dependable linebacker and should pair well with Barr and Kendricks to form a young, talented linebacking corps. Smith, coming off a five-interception season, is one of the most underrated safeties in the league. How fast this defense takes that jump could depend on the progression of Waynes. Cornerbacks typically struggle as rookies and if he does, teams will pick on him often. That could be the weak spot on the defense, at least at the start, but should progress as the season goes along.