Much the same as the NFL's annual "Top 100" list, the folks over at Pro Football Focus are doing their "Top 101 of 2014." They've moved much further along on their list than the NFL has on theirs, having already reached numbers 41 through 50. Thus far, three members of the Minnesota Vikings have made appearances on the PFF list. Not surprisingly, they're all members of the Vikings' rapidly improving young defense.
The first of the three to make an appearance on the list is defensive end Everson Griffen, who is on the list at number 98.
Went some way toward justifying his big contract extension with a big season for the Vikings. Not as consistent year round as he might liked to have been, it was his big middle of the season (particularly through Weeks 7 to 11) that got him onto the list. An extremely productive pass rusher, we were a little surprised he didn't rush more from the inside, but that doesn't take away from his breakout year.
Best Performance: Week 11, MIN @ CHI, +4.9
Key Stat: His 59 quarterback disruptions while lined up on the right side of the line were second most of all 4-3 defensive ends.
Griffen did have a very good season in his first year as a full-time starter, and as he continues to get more comfortable in the defense, should continue on an upward trajectory.
Speaking of players that saw their stock shoot way up under the watchful eye of Mike Zimmer, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is the next Viking to make an appearance on the list, popping up at number 83.
This is the kind of player the Vikings were expecting when they spent a first round pick on him in 2013. Floyd only played 587 snaps yet did enough with those snaps to earn the fifth highest overall grade of all 4-3 defensive tackles. Particularly impressive against the run, it's worth noting that Floyd scored a positive grade rushing the passer to show himself a fully complete player.
Best Performance: Week 11, MIN @ CHI, +5.8
Key Stat: Graded positively in all bar four games.
Short arms and all, it appears that Floyd is taking to the team's new defense quite nicely.
Last, but certainly not least, the highest-ranking Minnesota player on the list is safety Harrison Smith. PFF is one of the few outlets that recognizes Smith for what he is. . .one of the best safeties in the National Football League. . .and slots him on the list at number 49.
Smith continued his ascent to being one of the best safeties in the league with an effort that would earn him the second highest grade of all safeties. While he did grade positively in coverage, it was his tremendous work against the run that propelled him so high in this list. He is one safety who certainly lived up to the hype being a former first rounder.
Best Performance: Week 4, ATL @ MIN, +3.3
Key Stat: Owner of the second highest run defense grade of all safeties.
I'm guessing that those are the only three players that we're going to see on the PFF list. I'm also guessing that those three names will give the Vikings three more players than they'll have on the NFL Network's Top 100 list.