Much like the NFL Network has done, the folks over at Pro Football Focus have put together their list of the 101 best players in the National Football League, based on their metrics from this past season. You wouldn't expect too many faces from a 5-10-1 football team to make the list, and it makes sense that only three players from the 2013 Minnesota Vikings made it to the list.
The first was offensive tackle Phil Loadholt, who is on the list at #98. The folks at PFF have always been big fans of the big right tackle, and it shows in their description of him.
The only right tackle to make the list, Loadholt would finish the year our second-ranked overall right tackle (behind Zach Strief, but with a much better run block grade). He's become the prototype right tackle, more than good enough with his pass protection and able to generate substantial movement in the run game. Throw in getting penalized just three times and he's delivered on his contract so far.
Loadholt was only penalized three times in 2013? Didn't it seem like a lot more, or was I imagining things?
One of Loadholt's mates on the offensive line, center John Sullivan, made the list as well, checking in at #87. PFF has always been a big fan of Sullivan's as well, going so far as to call him the best center in the NFL after his outstanding 2012 season.
He wasn't able to match his 2012 season as he battled back from offseason surgery. A strong finish to the year showed that Sullivan was more than a one-season wonder and worthy of a spot in the Top 101. After turning his first eight games into a +4.5 grade, he was much stronger down the stretch as he finished the year with six grades in the green (something he replicated with his run blocking).
The last name is one you'd expect, that being running back Adrian Peterson. He isn't where you'd expect him to be, though, as he could only climb to #38 on this year's list.
It was always going to be hard for Peterson to follow up his remarkable 2013 campaign and so it proved. Now that's not to say he had a bad year, and without injuries limiting his playing time (and performance at times) he likely would have finished much higher. Still forced a very healthy 58 missed tackles that were second most of any running back while ending the year our third ranked runner. For most that would bring smiles to their faces while we suspect for Peterson it's just extra motivation to finish higher next year.
Personally, I'm surprised that Cordarrelle Patterson didn't make the list somehow because of the impact that he had on special teams throughout the year, but maybe special teamers don't carry as much weight in PFF's ratings as other players do.
I think the Vikings will have more players on this list following the 2014 season, provided that Patterson continues to emerge and guys like Harrison Smith can remain healthy. What do you folks think?