The National Football League named the 2016 Pro Bowl rosters on Tuesday night, and four members of the Minnesota Vikings managed to make their way on to the roster. Shockingly. . .or not. . .none of them came from the offensive side of the ball.
We’ll start at the defensive end spot, where Everson Griffen was named to this year’s Pro Bowl team. Griffen has had a solid season for the Vikings overall, though you could argue that it hasn’t been his best season since taking over as the starter at right defensive end. He’s collected eight sacks this season and has generally been a nuisance for opposing offenses. He’s had a couple of off games, but overall deserves this spot.
At cornerback, Xavier Rhodes has been named to the squad. Arguably the Vikings’ best defensive player this season, Rhodes has set a career high with four interceptions and has had a huge role in the Vikings’ defense shutting down some of the NFL’s best wide receivers. I’m not sure if there’s a cornerback in the NFC that deserved a spot on the Pro Bowl roster more than Rhodes.
Not surprisingly, safety Harrison Smith was named to the team as one of the two safeties. While he has not collected an interception this season, Smith has once again been a vital part of the Vikings’ defense. . .sadly, we saw in Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis exactly how vital he’s been. He’s now dealing with a high ankle sprain, so there’s a chance he may wind up not going to this year’s game, but he’s been named to the team for this season.
Lastly, Cordarrelle Patterson is back as the NFC’s return specialist. He is once again leading the National Football League in kickoff return average by a comfortable margin. This is the second time in Patterson’s four NFL seasons that he’s been named to the Pro Bowl.
Given the propensity of players to back out of playing in the Pro Bowl, these might not be the only four members of the Vikings to make the team. Still, being named to the squad before all of the cancellations start happening is a pretty significant feat, so congratulations to Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, and Cordarrelle Patterson on being named Pro Bowlers for the 2016 NFL season.