However, it may not be the member of the purple and gold that immediately jumps to mind. I can say that it wasn't for me, in any case.
The Viking that SB Nation put on their team of the best second-year players for the upcoming season is cornerback Xavier Rhodes. They have him paired with Atlanta Falcons' cornerback Desmond Trufant on the squad. Here's what they had to say about Rhodes.
Next season will be an interesting one for a few young corners, with Dee Milliner, Xavier Rhodes and D.J. Hayden attempting to play to a first-round standard. Rhodes is the closest to being a solid starter. He had rough moments, but played well for much of 2013. Mike Zimmer continually gets the best from his corners and his tutelage should help Rhodes take the next step.
Rhodes did have a lot of outstanding moments as a rookie, but also had some struggles with injuries. If he can get past that in 2014, he could start taking more steps towards being an upper-echelon cornerback in the National Football League.
And what about wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, you might ask? Well, SB Nation put three receivers on the squad, and Patterson was not among them. They selected Keenan Allen of the San Diego Chargers, Terrence Williams of the Dallas Cowboys, and Kenny Stills of the New Orleans Saints. I know that Allen had a monster year for the Chargers as a rookie, and probably should have been the rookie of the year. As far as the other two guys? Well. . .it might be my bias showing through a little bit, but I see no reason that Cordarrelle Patterson can't be better than both of those guys if he continues to come on like he did at the end of last season.
There was no mention of defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd anywhere on the squad, either, and with good reason when you look at his rookie performance. However, it sounds like Mike Zimmer and company have big plans for him in the new defense, so his recognition might be coming as well.