Once again, we have some good stuff from behind the great E$PN In$ider paywall, courtesy of the folks at Pro Football Focus. How much of a change has there been for the Minnesota Vikings? Well, when PFF did these rankings last year, the Vikings' roster ranked at #29 out of 32 NFL teams. . .and that was with Adrian Peterson being fully accounted for.
This season? PFF has them all the way up at #8. Here's what they had to say about our favorite team.
Top five players: Adrian Peterson, Harrison Smith, Sharrif Floyd, Everson Griffen, John Sullivan
Starters who should be upgraded: Brian Robison, Chad Greenway, Matt Kalil
Analysis: Getting Peterson back in the fold will do wonders for this team, but the Vikings' biggest reason for optimism is how Teddy Bridgewater finished the 2014 season at quarterback. Over the final five weeks, he was PFF's highest-graded passer, one spot better than Rodgers. Over the final six games, he was second only to Drew Brees. If he plays in 2015 the way he ended 2014, the Vikings are a legitimate threat to make the playoffs (particularly if Kalil rebounds from a poor 2014 campaign).
Under Mike Zimmer, the defense has taken significant steps forward and could get even better with another step from guys like Xavier Rhodes, who flashed elite talent last season.
Just think of all the young, talented players that this team has that can't crack PFF's top five for this team. Seriously, Bridgewater isn't even listed (which, based on his final PFF grade from last year, is understandable, I guess). Neither is Rhodes. The amount of talent this team has and the way it's come together in such a short time explains the rapid rise of the purple and gold up to the upper parts of lists like this one.
Strangely, being the 8th-most talented roster in the league only makes the Vikings, in the eyes of Pro Football Focus, the third-most talented roster in the NFC North. They have Green Bay at #2 (up from #8 last year) and Detroit just ahead of the Vikings at #7 (up from #11 last year). The NFC North's final entrant, Chicago, took a drop from #15 last season to #25 this year, and San Francisco. . .who the Vikings will see in Week 1 at Levi's Stadium. . .took an even bigger drop, falling from #2 last season to #17 this year.
I'm probably too biased to be saying this, but I'm going to say it anyway. . .if things go the way they should this year for the Vikings, when PFF does their rankings for next season, I expect the Vikings to find themselves in the top five.
Is it September yet?