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NFC North Rivals Bolstered Defenses

The Vikings have focused on building a new-look offensive line for 2016. Meanwhile, Minnesota's NFC North rivals have also gone to work through free agency and the draft, making some changes to their defensive units. Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune wrote:

The Packers, who were typically quiet in free agency, used four of their first five draft picks on front-seven defenders, starting with nose tackle Kenny Clark with the 27th overall pick in the first round. They added outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell in the third round and inside linebacker Blake Martinez and defensive end Dean Lowry in the fourth round.

Chicago signed free agent inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman before trading up in the draft to snag outside linebacker Leonard Floyd ninth overall. In the third round, the Bears drafted defensive end Jonathan Bullard.

Vensel said the Lions paid primary attention to their offensive line when they drafted three linemen, starting with first-round selection Taylor Decker.

But they did draft defensive end Anthony Zettel, too, and in free agency re-signed defensive end Haloti Ngata and added defensive linemen Stefan Charles and Wallace Gilberry to the mix.

The Vikings first NFC North matchup for 2016 will be their home opener on Sept. 18, when they welcome the Packers in the first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

An early look at Mackensie Alexander

As part of a larger "What We Learned" series taking a look at each of the Vikings rookies, 1500 ESPN's Andrew Krammer zeroed in on the newest Vikings cornerback, Mackensie Alexander. Krammer said that Alexander's confidence, seen early on during a press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine, has gained a backstory since being drafted by Minnesota.

[The] layers immediately started to reveal themselves within Alexander, the son of Haitian immigrants whose upbringing included helping his parents in Florida's orange and tomato fields.

"That's where the confidence comes from," Alexander told Krammer. "Just working out every day, grinding and just having a sick work ethic; that's what I have. My parents instilled that in me. So that's where my confidence comes from."

The Vikings could take a look at Alexander on the inside and outside cornerback spots this offseason.

"I know he can play outside," Vikings director of college scouting Jamaal Stephenson told Krammer. "But I think he has great value because he can slide inside and play nickel, too."

Chris Spielman moves to FOX

FOX announced Tuesday that former NFL linebacker Chris Spielman is joining the network as an NFL and college football analyst.

Chris is the younger brother of Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman.

Chris was a two-time All-American at Ohio State before being drafted by Detroit in 1988. He played eight of his 11 NFL seasons for the Lions and made four Pro Bowl appearances.

After retiring, the younger Spielman began his broadcasting career with FOX Sports Net in 1999 before moving to ESPN in 2001. Chris primarily called college games for ESPN.

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