Once again, as we continue with our GMC Playbook series, our good friend Marshall Faulk has a new question for us.
When you’re GMC Professional Grade, you perform at a high level day in and day out, whether you’re noticed or not. As we enter the Fourth Quarter of the season, who is your team’s unsung hero?
Well, let me answer that question with a couple of other questions.
Do you know who the Minnesota Vikings' highest-graded offensive player is, according to Pro Football Focus?
Do you know which member of the Minnesota Vikings has graded out as the team's best run blocker this season?
The answer to both of those questions is the player that I would consider the Vikings' unsung hero for this season, and that's tight end Rhett Ellison.
Yes, the highest-graded player on the Vikings' offense this season is Ellison, the third-year tight end from USC. He has an overall grade of +6.0, including a +5.1 run blocking grade to lead the team in that category as well. In the absence of Kyle Rudolph, he has seen a significant increase in his number of snaps this year. Yes, he's had a couple of down games, but for the most part has performed incredibly well.
When Ellison was drafted, he was viewed as a player that some hoped could be nearly as good as longtime fan favorite Jim Kleinsasser was at the tight end position, where he functioned as much as a sixth offensive lineman as he did a receiving threat. And while Ellison may not be at Kleinsasser-esque levels yet, he's making his mark as a run blocker for what has been a pretty run-heavy offense throughout his career. He's even gotten into the mix a little bit as a receiving threat, as he's already set career highs in receptions and yardage this season, and collected his second career touchdown this past weekend in Chicago.
Not bad for a guy that had such low expectations for himself coming out of college that he broke down in tears when the Vikings selected him in the fourth round in the 2012 draft. He wasn't expecting to be drafted at all.
People can talk about superstars and big names all they want. But for every superstar a team has, there are four or five guys like Rhett Ellison that are essential to making things work. The Vikings may be having a down year, but it certainly isn't the fault of #85.