When Super Bowl 50 concluded and the offseason officially began for a all 32 teams, NFL Media analyst Elliot Harrison created his first power ranking for the 2016 season. He had the Minnesota Vikings coming in at No. 10 overall because they made huge strides during the 2015 season and were not having to worry about any key players leaving in free agency.
He would release his second power rankings list in the middle of March following the start of free agency. The Vikings remained at No. 10 overall, but Harrison did mention that he liked what the Vikings did in free agency, especially with the signing of offensive guard Alex Boone. He also stated that releasing wide receiver Mike Wallace was the right thing for them to do.
It is now early May, and Harrison has posted another new set of power rankings after taking the NFL draft into consideration. He has pegged the Vikings as jumping the Cincinnati Bengals and moving into the No. 9 spot. He was impressed with the draft they had, especially what they did in the first round by selecting wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.
“I like the Laquon Treadwell pick very, very much,” Harrison said. “There’s so much that’s been talked about with speed, just watch the tape on this guy. I think the Vikings really needed someone in the red zone, and they needed someone on third-down-and-5. I’m not so concerned about the home-run ball for Teddy Bridgewater, I think that’s going to be Stefon Diggs’ game, to be the home-run ball. I’m not saying that Treadwell can’t do that, he’s very good at making plays on the ball, but I think, no matter what, this can only be good for a quarterback who’s pretty good right now. Pretty good, but the Vikings need him to take that step forward for them to be contenders.”
Harrison talked about the Vikings’ draft as a whole in another segment on NFL Network when he gave them the grade of an A-minus. Again, he referenced the Treadwell pick as being a great pickup, but he also noted that he liked the rest of what they did in the draft too.
“As far as the rest of the draft, Mackensie Alexander in the second round filled a need,” he said. “They also did well on Day 3. My only concern was Mackensie Alexander, no interceptions, very few passes defensed in two years starting.”
It is clear that the Vikings have used this offseason to their advantage. They retained almost all their own free agents, signed a couple key players in free agency and drafted well. All of those moves have lifted their stock to being the No. 9 team in the NFL, at least according to Harrison.
There has been a clear change in the nature of the Vikings since Mike Zimmer took over as the team’s head coach in 2014. They went from having a 7-9 record in his first season to an 11-5 record and an NFC North division championship in his second. This improvement has caught the eyes of a lot of people and now they are considered to be one of the top-10 teams in the league.