I'm looking at this season as one where I'll be happy if the Vikings win half their games. They might do better than that, but I don't have those kinds of exectations for the team. So in years like this, I like to younger players to root for and hope they develop into stars. The Vikings have done a good job drafting players who manage to stay on the team. Now they need some of those players to take it up a notch or two. No doubt, I'll enjoy watching Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen and Percy Harvin play, but the guys below are the ones I'm hoping take it to another level this year.
Mistral Raymond - I like his story - love the persistence that got him here. Even if the Vikes draft a great safety, I think Mistral is going to have to step up.
Chris Cook - I was bummed to see the problems he has had. But I hope he gets to a good place and can focus on playing the game. I've seen him make some great plays. I think if his knees are good and he gets off to a solid start, he could be a clear shutdown corner by the end of this year.
Kyle Rudolph - Every time I saw Gronkowski make a catch for the Patriots last year, I hoped that we would eventually see the same thing from Rudolph. Maybe this will be the year.
Everson Griffen - I really liked how this guy took advantage of every opportunity he had this year. I hope the Vikes let him compete for a starting LB slot - I think he could wreak havoc on other teams if he was on the field for more downs.
Christian Ponder - I hope Ponder does well. No team goes far in the NFL today without a great QB.
Joe Webb - It's kind of strange going into a season rooting for both the starting QB and the backup QB. This year, apparently, Joe won't be used in special packages or as a WR. So if Ponder does well, we won't see much of Joe. I want Ponder to do well. But I also really like Joe Webb. I like the energy and joy he seems to bring to the game. Even when Brett Favre played for the Packers, I still enjoyed seeing the spirit with which he played the game. So I want to see Joe Webb on the football field. I don't know how this will turn out.
So those are the younger players that I'm looking forward to watching. I really hope several of them turn into stars this year. And I'm sure I'll have a couple rookies I'm rooting for after the draft picks are done.
Who are you hoping to see take it to another level this year?