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Best defense in the NFC North? Panel predicts it's the Vikings

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Writers from around the NFC North were asked by ESPN's Ben Goessling if it's a stretch to consider the Vikings as the best defense in the division entering the 2015 season.

The result: It's absolutely not a stretch.

Rob Demovsky, who covers the Packers, noted that Minnesota only got better from last season by drafting cornerback Trae Waynes in the first round and linebacker Eric Kendricks in the second round. The Vikings held Aaron Rodgers to 209 yards passing in their second meeting last season.

ESPN Chicago's Jeff Dickerson said the Lions will be good on defense again, but he gives the Vikings a slight edge thanks to an increase in talent and because defensive mastermind, head coach Mike Zimmer, is calling the shots.

Michael Rothstein, who covers the Lions for ESPN, noted that Minnesota has great depth at nearly every defensive position.

While the likes of safety Harrison Smith, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive end Everson Griffen are cornerstones of the defense, perhaps no player could jump up more this season than second-year linebacker Anthony Barr.

Viking Update ranked Barr as the fifth-best 4-3 scheme outside linebacker in the NFL, and projected him as a Pro Bowl caliber player in 2015. chose the Vikings as one of seven teams that improved on defense the most this offseason. The site says that the 2015 Vikings draft class could go from good to great if third-round pick, defensive end Danielle Hunter from LSU, plays up to his potential.

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