We're on the verge of Training Camp, so we've just about hit the end of the list-a-mania portion of the offseason. However, we still have room for one more.
Bill Barnwell over at Grantland has put together his list of the NFL's Top 100 players, and there are not one. . .but two. . .members of the Minnesota Vikings on it.
The first one is the one you'd expect, that being running back Adrian Peterson. Barnwell has Peterson at #58 on his list, with the following commentary:
The Vikings team Peterson suited up for during his only game of 2014 really doesn't resemble the one he'll play with this season. That was a passing attack with Matt Cassel attempting to throw vaguely in the direction of Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings. After Peterson's quasi-suspension, the Vikings installed a conservative, ball-control attack for Teddy Bridgewater, integrated Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright into the lineup, and then traded for Mike Wallace this offseason. Norv Turner has traditionally built his offense around a workhorse back and getting the ball downfield when defenses overreact to the threat of the run; here, with (perhaps overwrought) concerns about Bridgewater's arm strength, the logic might go backward. Turner might need to prove that Bridgewater can hit Wallace downfield before holes start appearing for the returning Peterson.
I hadn't actually thought about it in that order, to be honest. I think that most of us, as Barnwell's commentary implies, just assume that Peterson being back is going to open things up for Bridgewater. That could still be the case, but even with teams devoting more attention to Peterson, Bridgewater is still going to have to show that he can hit Wallace and Johnson down the field. However, from what we saw of him last year, and with the accuracy that Bridgewater showed towards the end of the season, I don't think that's going to end up being an issue.
The other player from Minnesota that Barnwell lists is a guy that should get more attention outside of Minnesota but, for some reason, really hasn't. That would be safety Harrison Smith, who Barnwell has at #48 on his list. Barnwell says that he "can't stand" Smith, which sounds curious until you see his reasoning.
Smith is a wonderful football player who I cannot stand. It's not his fault at all, but whenever I see his name, I remember that the family in the "Bengals Babies" commercial was buying his jersey, and then I think of that commercial, and then I want to think about anything else. Sorry, Harrison Smith. You deserve a better commercial.
See, now that makes sense. As far as annoyance levels are concerned, that ad is quickly becoming the "THIS IS OURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR COUNTRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY" of recent NFL advertising, if it hasn't reached that status already. "Oh, we used to like the Vikings, but now we're stupid and we like a different team instead because we're stupid." Seriously, as one of my favorite modern day philosophers is fond of saying (in a slightly more profane way), eff those people right in the effing neck.
But Harrison Smith is pretty awesome. Kudos to Mr. Barnwell for recognizing that.