The Minnesota Vikings are being cited as having the 10th-best core of players, including five “elite” players.
We’ve reached the time of year where new-look teams that have been reshaped through free agency and the draft start getting an analytical look as to who are the teams on the rise.
According the NFL’s official website, the Minnesota Vikings have one of the best cores of any team in the NFL.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks ranked teams by the number of blue-chip players they have on their roster, as well as adding players who are on the rise and close to being in that elite blue-chip status.
Brooks ranked the Vikings 10th overall, primarily because they had the fewest players listed as elite with five – Everson Griffen
, Adrian Peterson
, Kyle Rudolph
, Harrison Smith
and Mike Wallace
. But what could skew the Vikings higher is that they have three players listed as “on the rise” – Anthony Barr
, Sharrif Floyd
and Xavier Rhodes
. Seven of the nine teams listed ahead of the Vikings had just one player listed as being on the rise.
In his description of the Vikings at No. 10, Brooks said of the Vikings, “I'm sure the Vikings' placement on this list will be met with some criticism, but a closer look at the roster reveals a number of big-time playmakers on both sides of the ball.
“The offense returns one of the top runners in NFL history (Peterson) – and added a lethal deep threat in Wallace. Additionally, the presence of Rudolph as an ‘MOF’ (middle of the field) threat gives Minnesota an impressive collection of offensive firepower. Defensively, Griffen's emergence as a dominant pass rusher has not only elevated the play of the unit, but it has allowed the team's underrated ball hawks (like Smith) to feast on hurried throws between the hashes. With young players like Barr, Rhodes and Floyd on the verge of becoming household names, the Vikings suddenly look like emerging contenders in the NFC.”
Considering that the list of elite players and on-the-rise types didn’t include Teddy Bridgewater
, the grade could have been even higher.
However, it should be noted that the top nine teams aren’t necessarily teams that have enjoyed recent or sustained success – in order they are Seattle, Buffalo, Denver, New York Jets, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Green Bay and Philadelphia.
9 depth-chart battles to watch for Vikings
What makes the list interesting is that it focuses on the young players who will be the foundation of the future for those franchises. If you noticed, there were three teams from the AFC East in the top 10 and the only team excluded is the defending Super Bowl champs.
From the lauding of the Vikings draft to the acceptance that the Vikings have been stockpiling impressive young talent, there are a lot of reasons for optimism for the Vikings – not just heading into the 2015 season, but well into their days in their new stadium.
Dovetailing into the NFL.com listing of the Vikings that are already elite and those who are on the cusp, there have been questions as to how many (if any) Vikings players would be deemed worthy of inclusion in the NFL Network’s annual listing of the top 100 players projected for the coming season. A case could be made that forward-thinking types could put Bridgewater on that list, but, with Matt Ryan and Cam Newton already off the board at Nos. 77 and 73 respectively, it’s unlikely Teddy would make the list given that two Pro Bowl QBs have already come off the board. NFL Network will unveil Nos. 61-70 tonight and at least one Viking will be on the list. Who will make the list from Minnesota? Adrian Peterson has to be on the list, but is there room for Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes or Wallace? Stay tuned.
Back when Brad Childress was head coach of the Vikings, he got salty with Adrian Peterson because his hometown of Palestine, Texas scheduled Adrian Peterson Day as one of the days of the Vikings mandatory minicamp. There won’t be such a conflict this year. The annual Adrian Peterson Day celebration will be Saturday, June 13 – three days before the start of the Vikings mandatory minicamp. If A.P. doesn’t show for the minicamp, it won’t be because of Adrian Peterson Day.
Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports is saying that Peterson may dig in his heels and retire if the Vikings don’t trade him. Those who have been around Peterson, however, would differ with that opinion. Getting to the top of the running back career production list has always been a motivation for Peterson and it’s hard to imagine that, given his competitive spirit, he would pull a Barry Sanders and walk away from the game when he still has a lot left to offer.
If the Vikings had any interest in free-agent running backs as an insurance policy against Peterson holding out, there isn’t much left of available backs. The short list includes disgruntled mercenary Chris Johnson, Ray Rice (who the Vikings would never consider given his bout with domestic violence), failed Peterson replacement Ben Tate, Miami retread Daniel Thomas and Cowboys reject Felix Jones. Ouch.
See what Vikings fans are saying here