Moving through the list-a-mania of the off-season as we prepare for 2015, Bucky Brooks from NFL.com has put together a list of what he feels are the ten most talented rosters in the NFL. . .not counting the quarterback position. In a mild surprise, the Minnesota Vikings sneak onto Brooks' list at the #10 position.
Blue chips (5): DE Everson Griffen, RB Adrian Peterson, TE Kyle Rudolph, S Harrison Smith, WR Mike Wallace.
On the rise: LB Anthony Barr, DT Sharrif Floyd, CB Xavier Rhodes.
I'm sure the Vikings' placement on this list will be met with some criticism, but a closer look at the roster reveals a number of big-time playmakers on both sides of the ball. The offense returns one of the top runners in NFL history (Peterson) -- and added a lethal deep threat in Wallace. Additionally, the presence of Rudolph as an "MOF" (middle of the field) threat gives Minnesota an impressive collection of offensive firepower. Defensively, Griffen's emergence as a dominant pass rusher has not only elevated the play of the unit, but it has allowed the team's underrated ballhawks (like Smith) to feast on hurried throws between the hashes. With young players like Barr, Rhodes and Floyd on the verge of becoming household names, the Vikings suddenly look like emerging contenders in the NFC.
Now, I'm sure that some folks are going to shake their head at some of the names on the Vikings' list of "blue chip" players, according to Brooks. Obviously Griffen, Peterson (if he comes back. . .more on that later), and Smith belong on the list. Rudolph and Wallace, on the other hand. . .well, they both certainly have the potential to be there, though I'm not sure if I could put either of them there yet. Wallace needs to show he can bounce back after a couple of rough seasons in Miami, and Rudolph needs to stay healthy long enough to live up to the big contract he signed.
Still, with guys like Barr, Floyd, and Rhodes in the fold, this is as talented a Vikings' team as we've probably seen in a long time. . .and that's before we even get to Teddy Bridgewater, who is obviously the most important piece in all of this. It wasn't that long ago that the Vikings wouldn't have been anywhere near the top ten on a list like this, but this is definitely a team that's trending in the right direction.