Minnesota Vikings Player Power Rankings, Mid-Season Edition

I really meant to do one of these back during the pre-season so that we'd have something to compare it to at this point, but I forgot to.  I apologize for that.  But, as usual, we'll have our mid-season version. . .conveniently designed to go along with the Vikings' bye week. . .and our post-season version to compare.

I've done these for the past couple of seasons, after originally getting the idea from our friends over at Dawgs by Nature.  (See the 2007 mid-season and post-season versions, as well as the 2008 mid-season and post-season versions.)  These aren't official or anything, and are more designed to spark conversations/debate than anything else.  Since the table that these rankings are placed in is pretty huge, I'll put it in after the jump for everyone to have a look at.  Enjoy, and tell us what you think!

Player Power Rankings
Rank

Player

Comment
1 Jared Allen, DE Greatest trade in Vikings' history?  If it's not, it's certainly on the short list.  In 24 games since coming to Minnesota, #69 has 25 sacks (3 of which have resulted in safeties), 5 passes defended, 6 forced fumbles, and has generally just been the best 4-3 defensive end in the National Football League.  He'd probably be the Defensive Player of the Year if the season ended today.
2 Brett Favre, QB Okay, raise your hand if you thought the guy would be this good.  *looks around* I doubt it was that many, but anyhow. . .in eight games, Favre has turned the ball over all of four times (only one of which. . .against St. Louis. . .could probably be classed as egregiously awful), has a 4:1 TD/turnover ratio, and a quarterback rating of a cool 106.0.  Yes, it remains to see how he'll perform over the second half of the year, but the returns have been good so far.
3 Adrian Peterson, RB You know the bar has been set pretty high for you when you're tied for second in the NFL in rushing yards, averaging almost 5 yards/carry, are second in the league in rushing touchdowns. . .and some folks are under the perception that you're struggling.  He's on pace for 40 fewer regular season carries this year than he got last year, and as long as teams still want to defend the Vikings like they have Gus Frerotte at quarterback, his numbers will probably stay low. . .keeping him fresh for the post-season.
4 Percy Harvin, WR Surprised to see him this high?  Don't be.  How much of an impact has Harvin had?  With him returning kickoffs, the Vikings have the best average starting field position in the NFL.  He's also been a big part of the Vikings going from having one of the worst special teams units of the last 20 years to being one of the better units in the league, according to the DVOA rankings from Football Outsiders.  Oh, and he's done alright catching the ball, too.  Barring an injury, we can probably just stop the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting right now and hand the award to #12.  (Oh, and another big thank you to T.J. Houshmandzadeh for signing with the Seahawks. . .because if we had him, we likely wouldn't have Harvin.)
5 Kevin Williams, DT The best all-around defensive tackle in football has been blowing up interior linemen all season long.  He's on pace to have his first double-digit sack season since 2004, and he's still incredible against the run.  Oh, and he's thrown in 6 defended passes, too.  To borrow a phrase from Eric. . .greatest "missed draft pick" ever?  Greatest "missed draft pick" ever.
6 Sidney Rice, WR Nobody on the Vikings' roster has benefited more from the addition of Brett Favre than El Sid.  It's hard to believe that the University of South Carolina produced both Rice and Troy Williamson, since Sidney is pretty much the anti-Williamson.  He's on pace to have 1170 receiving yards (and hopefully more than the 2 TDs he has currently), and he has the most ridiculous set of hands this team has seen since Cris Carter left town.  Yes, Randy Moss included.
7 Ryan Longwell, K Ridiculous to put the kicker this high?  Perhaps. . .but ponder this:  Every time this season a ball that he's kicked has gone past the line of scrimmage, it's gone through the uprights (his only "miss" this season was the block at the end of the first half of the San Francisco game).  His kickoffs have been pretty darn good, too.  One can't underestimate the importance of a kicker as good as Longwell has been this season.
8 Chad Greenway, LB The Vikings' leading tackler after the first half of the season, he's also tossed in a couple of interceptions and 4 passes defended.  He's really gotten a lot better in coverage over the course of his Viking career, and has become one of the better all-around linebackers in the NFL.
9 Steve Hutchinson, G Still the best at his position in the National Football League, despite getting called for his first holding penalty in 27 games last weekend against Green Bay.  Meanwhile, Nate Burleson is still doing nothing in Seattle.  Yeah, I still think the Vikings got the better of that little exchange.
10 Bryant McKinnie, T McKinnie has been much maligned over the course of the past couple of seasons, and we would lament how he would get abused by speed rushers.  However, after making the adjustment to having Brett Favre at QB early in the season (along with the rest of the O-line), McKinnie has done a hell of a job, and is finally really starting to live up to the huge payday he got a couple of years ago.  He looks like the tackle the Vikings thought they were getting when they drafted him in 2002.
11 Antoine Winfield, CB Ordinarily he would be much higher on this list, but his injuries. . .coupled with the fact that the Vikings haven't missed him nearly as much this year as anybody might have thought. . .push him down a little bit.  Don't get me wrong, he's still one of the best in the league at his position, but he hasn't had quite the impact so far this season that one would think.
12 Pat Williams, DT Phat Pat got off to a bit of a rough start in 2009, some of which could possibly be attributed to getting a late start on the pre-season festivities, but has come around over the course of the past few games, and is back to being his usual bad-ass, run-stuffing self.  He's even contributed his annual sack with his takedown of Aaron Rodgers in Week 8.
13 Ray Edwards, DE You know. . .when he's not busy jumping offsides or getting ridiculous late hit penalties, Ray Ray has actually had a pretty solid year thus far, with 26 combined tackles and 3.5 sacks.  Sure, he might be the "weak link" on the defensive line, but being the weak link on a defensive line this good is sort of like being a MENSA member with an IQ of "only" 135.
14 Visanthe Shiancoe, TE Second in the NFL in touchdown catches among tight ends, he gives the Vikings yet another weapon to utilize around the goal line.  One could argue that he should be getting more catches, but with the emergence of Harvin and Rice, I'm not sure where those catches would come from.  (Yes, I know, "Tahi" is the obvious answer.)
15 Ben Leber, LB Still the quietest member of the defense, but as always, you don't hear his name called very often, which means he's doing what he's asked to do.  Occasionally spectacular, but always solid.  Still the only good thing Fran Foley ever did for the Minnesota Vikings.
16 Phil Loadholt, OT The massive rookie from Oklahoma grabbed hold of the starting RT slot in training camp and, like most things he gets a hold of, he hasn't shown any signs of letting go of it any time soon.  He did miss a game because of injury, but overall has provided a level of play that few may have expected from him as a rookie.  We'll have to keep an eye on him to see if he hits the "wall" during the course of the year.
17 E.J. Henderson, LB I'm surprised that he's down this far, too, but really. . .who ahead of him do you move?  Frankly, E.J. just hasn't looked like E.J. most of the time this season.  A good portion of the Vikings' woes against tight ends can be attributed to him (though there is blame to be spread around. . .give me a bit), and he just hasn't been the beast that he was prior to the dislocated toes that caused him to miss most of 2008.  He is getting better, though, and hopefully will continue to do so as the season goes on.
18 Bernard Berrian, WR He's had some injury problems this year, and his average yards/catch is significantly lower than it was in 2008, but he's still providing a pretty steady presence on the outside.  He's become pretty much automatic on slant routes thus far this season, and it's only a matter of time before corners and safeties start biting on those and opening up big gainers over the top.  He's not the #1 option any more, but he's still solid.
19 Cedric Griffin, CB This is just my personal opinion, but there isn't a more frustrating player on the Vikings' roster to watch than Cedric Griffin.  The guy has a ton of talent, and we know he has the capability to be really good (see the second half of last year), but there are too many times when he forgets how to tackle and gets beaten in coverage.  Sadly, he's not even the most disappointing member of the secondary this season.
20 Anthony Herrera, G Another guy we haven't heard a whole lot from this season, which is a positive.  For the most part, he seems to be doing a relatively solid job at the right guard spot.
21 John Sullivan, C For a guy starting at center for the first time in the NFL to be the pivot on an offense this good says a lot about Sullivan's ability.  Has he been great all the time?  No. . .but he hasn't been a tremendous drop-off from Matt Birk's play last year, either, and he's still been pretty good, despite a couple of mental errors (like the mis-timed snap in Green Bay).
22 Chris Kluwe, P Yeah, he had a crappy game half against Pittsburgh, and Joshua Cribbs got a punt return TD against the Vikings in Week 1. . .he does that to a lot of teams. . .but Kluwe has made a lot of strides over last season, in my opinion.  The willingness of the Guitar Hero to (finally) sacrifice some distance for hang time has been another part of the Vikings' special teams turnaround.
23 Jimmy Kennedy, DT If Jimmy Kennedy isn't a testament to the amazing abilities of Vikings' defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, I'm really not sure what is.  Kennedy has served the Vikings very well as a rotation player to this point of the season, and may be putting himself in line to be a replacement for Pat Williams in the near future.  Yeah, "solid rotation" player isn't necessarily what you want from a guy that was once drafted #11 overall. . .but it's a hell of a lot more than St. Louis, Jacksonville, or Chicago got out of him.
24 Madieu Williams, S One of the bigger disappointments on the team this year, in my opinion.  There have been a few occasions where Williams has just looked completely lost this season, and for a veteran guy like him, that shouldn't happen.  He really, really needs to step up his level of play in the second half of the season in order to bring the Vikings' pass defense up to where it needs to be.
25 Tyrell Johnson, S The other biggest disappointment for the Vikings this year.  I know this is his first year as the full-time starter, but he just hasn't been all that good.  Nobody questions Johnson's physical ability, to be sure, but he needs to show more of why the Vikings took him in the second round in 2008.
26 Jim Kleinsasser, TE We just keep putting Kleinsasser out there as a blocker every year, and he just keeps destroying everything in his path.  I'm not sure how many years the guy can keep doing this, but he certainly hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.
27 Cullen Loeffler, LS I'll put the same thing I put next to his entry every year. . .when's the last time you remember the Vikings' special teams units being victimized by a bad snap?  Loeffler is solid.
28 Heath Farwell, LB The Vikings had a lot of turnover in their special teams coverage units between 2008 and 2009, but the return of Heath Farwell has been huge.  He's always around the ball on special teams, whether it's kick returns or punt returns, and his tackling is as sure as ever.
29 Jeff Dugan, FB/TE Remember when most of us thought the only reason the Vikings drafted Jeff Dugan was because he went to Maryland like Mike Tice did?  Yeah, that was five seasons ago, and Dugan is still here.  He's a solid blocker, and has even gotten a couple of passes this year.  One of the more underrated Vikings. . .probably underrated on this list, too.
30 Chester Taylor, RB This may seem way too low for Chester, but his yards/carry average is way down this year, and I really think we're seeing his last season in Minnesota, as he's in the final year of his contract.  With the expansion of Adrian Peterson's role as a receiver and the improvement in his pass blocking, #29 just isn't as vital as he's been in years past.
31 Naufahu Tahi, FB Good enough blocker, but again, I'll go with something I say every year. . .STOP THROWING HIM THE FOOTBALL.  (Although he did have a 30+ yard catch-and-run against St. Louis, which means there are probably more plays in the playbook for him than ever.)
32 Brian Robison, DE It's not that Robison is bad or anything, because he's clearly not.  He just doesn't get a whole lot of opportunities with the guy he has in front of him taking all the snaps.  Oh, and Brian. . .the next time a kickoff bounces into your hands, just fall down. . .please?
33 Jaymar Johnson, WR Another guy that could probably be a few spots higher, he's stepped into the punt return role quite nicely after the injury to Darius Reynaud.  Wouldn't mind seeing him get a few more shots as a receiver, but who's he going to displace, barring injury?
34 Kenny Onatolu, LB I was really rooting for this guy to make the squad after his pre-season performance, and he hasn't disappointed, adding more solid play to the Vikings' special teams units.
35 Greg Lewis, WR IT'S GREG LEWIS!  TOUCHDOWN!  OH MY GOODNESS!  GREG LEWIS!  WELCOME TO MINNESOTA!  OH MY HEAVENS!
36 Fred Evans, DT Twenty-nine taser-free months and counting for Evans.  Way to go, #90!
37 Benny Sapp, CB Could make an argument that he could be higher, I suppose.  He's had his moments but, like many parts of the Vikings' secondary this season, he's made a few highlight reels for the wrong reasons, too.
38 Tarvaris Jackson, QB Hasn't been a disruption, and has actually taken his demotion quite well.  Has seen a bit of time in mop-up duty as well.  I hope we don't have to see him this year, but if we do, I have confidence that he could do the job for a little while, at least.
39 Letroy Guion, DT Has bounced back and forth between the active roster and the inactive list, but has done a solid enough job in the time he's gotten.
40 Artis Hicks, OL Filled in for Phil Loadholt when the big guy was out with an injury, and played pretty well.  Still a solid backup at numerous positions.
41 Asher Allen, CB Has spent most of the year on the inactive list, but has been up for the last two games and has asserted himself pretty well.  Easy to see the potential the Vikings seem to think he has.
42 Jasper Brinkley, LB Hasn't seen much time as a LB, but has been a very good special teamer thus far.
43 Karl Paymah, CB After watching him get thoroughly abused against Baltimore, it became clear why he was brought in as a special teamer and not a cornerback.  He recovered nicely against Pittsburgh, though. . .and, hopefully, will be finding his way back to a strictly special teams role here soon.
44 Darius Reynaud, WR Was doing an outstanding job as a punt returner before his injury, and now might not get his punt returner spot back thanks to Jaymar Johnson's performance.
45 Eric Frampton, S Hasn't gotten the opportunity to come alive on defense. . .yes, I continue to murder that joke. . .but has been a good special teamer.
46 Husain Abdullah, S See above, but without the reference to Peter Frampton.
47 Jamarca Sanford, S Hasn't been up for all the games, but again has been a solid special teamer in the games that he has been.
48 Ryan Cook, OT No Ryan Cook on the field makes Gonzo a happy blogger and Vikings quarterbacks much healthier than they may normally be.
Non-Ranked Players/Incomplete Grades
Rank

Player

Comment
NA Sage Rosenfels, QB The best-compensated #3 quarterback in the league.  Nice work, if you can get it.
NA Jayme Mitchell, DE Still pretty talented, but there just isn't room for him in Minnesota's defensive line rotation.  Damn shame, too.
NA Erin Henderson, LB Heck, I'm not sure if Henderson the Younger is even still on the team.
NA Jon Cooper, C Was signed, then released, then signed again, and I don't think he's seen the field this year.
NA Albert Young, RB
Hasn't seen the field this year, either.

 

And there you have it.  I'm pretty sure that I haven't missed anybody. . .if I have, let me know, and I'll work them into the rankings at the appropriate place.

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