On Wednesday we started our countdown of the top 30 Vikings for 2016, something we originally took part in at the invitation of Adam Patrick over at Vikings Territory. You can see how we decided how we came up with our lists, and picks 30-26, right here.
One thing that surprised us is that we had completely different names, as in we didn't agree on one player that was somewhere between the 26th and 30th most important player on the team. We found that a little odd, but there was sound reasoning from both of us on the 10 players we did select.
Anyway, we continue on with picks 25-21. And we'll roll these out every couple days or so.
|25||Phil Loadholt, T||Andrew Sendejo, S|
|24||Chad Greenway, LB||Jerick McKinnon, RB|
|23||Mike Harris, G||Joe Berger, C|
|22||Alex Boone, G||John Sullivan, C|
|21||Kyle Rudolph, TE||Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR|
Eric: Phil Loadholt, T. Before he missed the Vikings' last 22 games, Loadholt was ascending into the upper echelon of tackles in the league. He has always had the reputation of being a road grader in the run game, but his pass protection was quietly improving year by year. Can he regain the form he had before suffering back-to-back season-ending injuries? I'm not sure. If he doesn't show it early, it might be tough to get the starting gig back from Andre Smith.
Ted: Andrew Sendejo, S. A lot of people were questioning why the Vikings signed Sendejo to a pretty hefty contract extension in the off season, and I was admittedly one of them. I view Sendejo as the weak link in the secondary, and that the Vikings defense was good in spite of him, not really because of him. Be that as it may, they did, he's the incumbent starter at safety, and will probably see a fair amount of playing time. And yes, how Sendejo plays will determine how the Vikings defense plays.
Eric: Chad Greenway, LB. Ranking Greenway this high when he might not see many snaps might be a sentimental pick on my part. But his value to the team stretches beyond the field. He'll be able to teach the young guns how to produce even if he can't do it himself anymore. While it remains to be seen how much Greenway will actually impact what looks to be a stout defense in 2016, nobody deserves a royal sendoff more than the veteran linebacker. Let's win one for Chad!
Ted: Jerick McKinnon, RB. 2016 has the potential to be a step up year for McKinnon. He's been a solid backup his first two seasons, but he flashes the kind of talent that makes you think he can be an RB1 in the NFL. With Adrian Peterson probably playing his last year in Minnesota, 2016 will be a season long audition for McKinnon to see if he can, in fact, take over in the backfield next year. Also, I refuse to use the phrase ‘fill Peterson's shoes', because let's face it, no one will probably ever be able to do that.
Eric: Mike Harris, G. Hopefully Harris can back up what was a surprisingly effective season at right guard last year and retain his starting spot. Because if he can't, there are no sure things behind him. Brandon Fusco fell off a cliff last year and Joe Berger might be needed elsewhere on the line.
Ted: Joe Berger, C. When John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt went down in training camp for the season last year, the Vikings offensive line became full of question marks. Joe Berger stepped in to the starting center job, and only played at a border line All Pro level last year, solving one problem. And depending on where you go on the Internet, he was just about the best center in football. Before last year, he was an invaluable backup, though, able to play every position on the line, and if Sullivan is healthy, I can see Berger going back to that jack of all trades role he does so well. But if he needs to start again, the C position will be in good hands.
Eric: Alex Boone, G. I was thrilled about this signing if only because of the amazing entertainment he'll provide all year and what an amazing interview he'll be at Training Camp. He's practically the new Jared Allen in that respect. But I don't have him higher on this list yet because his play has taken a noticeable dip over the past couple seasons. In 2012 he made Pro Football Focus' 2nd team All-NFL. Last year they ranked him the 38th best guard. The good news: he should still have plenty left in the tank, and he probably can't be any worse than Fusco was last year.
Ted: John Sullivan, C. As well as Joe Berger played in Sully's absence last year, it's easy to forget just how good of a center John Sullivan has been in his Vikings career. A healthy and effective Sullivan would really bolster the Vikings offensive line, and give them more depth in case more injuries hit again this year.
Eric: Kyle Rudolph, TE. We're five years in and Rudy has yet to break 500 yards in a season. His size, ability, and (perhaps most important) contract all say he should be putting up much bigger numbers. There's no reason he shouldn't be Teddy Bridgewater's favorite target underneath and higher on this list next year. He finally proved he can stay healthy in 2015; now he needs to become a guy you'd actually think about starting in fantasy leagues.
Ted: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR. Patterson is teetering on the edge of being labeled a permanent bust. He can make the frustrations of the past two seasons largely go away if he can step up and be a big part of this receiving corps. Early spring reports have been very encouraging, but until we actually get to the season we won't actually know. A trio of Treadwell, Diggs, and the Dec 2013 Cordarrelle Patterson would be a wide receiving unit that could go toe to toe with any secondary in the NFL, and would give the Vikings two explosive, big play guys to go with what could become a fantastic possession receiver.
Once again our UNDENIABLY GREAT VIKINGS MINDS came up with exactly zero matches for our rankings. Will we finally agree when we roll out 20-16? Stay tuned.