Best of NFL: NFC North players

June, 28, 2011
6/28/11
2:00
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Best of NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

As part of Best of the NFL Week on ESPN.com, here are five bests for the NFC North:

[+] EnlargeEarl Bennett
Rick Stewart/Getty ImagesEarl Bennett caught 46 passes for 561 yards for the Bears last season.
Best hands, Earl Bennett: The NFC North has no shortage of elite receivers who have collected Pro Bowl honors, from Greg Jennings to Calvin Johnson to Sidney Rice. None of them displayed the kind of reliability Bennett achieved last season for the Chicago Bears. He dropped only one of the 70 passes thrown his way, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and caught 46. Jennings dropped five of the 122 passes thrown his way. Johnson also had five (on 134 targets). Rice was limited to five games.

Best nickname, B.J. Raji: You've got two kinds of athlete nicknames: The ones they give themselves and the ones bestowed upon them. Last winter, we tried our best to push "The Garaji" or "Raj Mahal," but ultimately what stuck was what Raji himself dreamed up during the Green Bay Packers' divisional playoff game victory over the Atlanta Falcons. After participating in a jumbo offensive package at the goal line, Raji began calling himself "The Freezer." As NFC North fans remember, William "The Refrigerator" Perry rose to cult status in a similar role 25 years ago.

Best tackler, Antoine Winfield: Generously listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Winfield needs perfect form and a fearless attitude to bring down ball carriers who sometimes outweigh him by 100 pounds. Winfield has both. He stays low, doesn't fall for open-field moves and wraps up legs as if he is filming a fundamentals video on every play. There aren't many players, whether they're speed- or power-based, who can elude him. Last season for the Vikings, according to Football Outsiders, Winfield tied for the NFL lead with 28 "stops" against the pass.

Best tweeter, Chris Harris: The NFC North is packed with social media mavens. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for instance, entertains the masses with "Jack Handey" quotes whenever he's sitting in an airport. But Harris is probably the most prolific in our division, using Twitter to post serious thoughts on important NFL issues at one moment and then updating his diaper-changing failures in another. Just as important, Harris interacts with Chicago Bears fans on a near daily basis. Those of us who follow Harris feel like we know him.

Best comedian, Pat Williams: We're still not sure if Williams will return to the Minnesota Vikings, but even if he departs via free agency, he'll leave behind a litany of hilarious moments, both intentional and otherwise. My personal favorite: Upon witnessing then-teammate Dwight Smith arrested in downtown Minneapolis, Williams identified himself as a reserve U.S. Marshal in Louisiana and offered to help "sort things out." It's true: Williams was involved in a reserve Marshal program at the time, but that's still a scene I wish I had been witness to.

Best best (bonus category): Detroit Lions tailback Jahvid Best. Enough said. (Sorry, couldn't resist)

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8