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Vikings High In ESPN Future Power Rankings

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

We look for things during this portion of the offseason, and once again the folks behind the great E$PN Paywall have delivered.

The four-letter from Bristol have put together their annual Future Power Rankings, and the Minnesota Vikings find themselves rated pretty highly coming off of their first NFC North title since 2009. The Vikings are ranked 8th out of 32 NFL teams in the Future Power Rankings, and here’s what ESPN had to say about them.

High point: It was a long time coming for Mike Zimmer to become an NFL head coach, but man, has he delivered in a hurry. Zimmer doesn't mince words, doesn't pamper his players and has high expectations for those who take the field for him. He already has established himself as one of the best defensive minds in football and is a real asset for Minnesota. It would not surprise me to see him sustain significant success with the Vikings during his tenure. -- Field Yates

Low point: The Vikings are a trendy pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season. I'm on the bandwagon so long as Teddy Bridgewater is given the opportunity to make more big plays in the passing game, and Teddy himself is willing to pull the trigger and execute. He ranked 29th overall in yards per attempt on passes of 25-plus yards in 2015, and that needs to improve significantly if he is to compete with guys like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer for supremacy in the NFC. If he can take his game to the next level, then this franchise has what it takes to make some serious noise for the first time in a long time. -- Louis Riddick

What could change: The Vikings appear to be on very solid footing, but changes are coming. It's unlikely running back Adrian Peterson will still be a dominant force -- or even on the roster -- three years from now. He will be 33 years old, after all. The Vikings presumably will have re-signed Bridgewater to an extension by then. That would solidify the position while taking away resources that are currently available to fill holes elsewhere on the roster. By then the Vikings should have a better feel for whether Bridgewater can carry a heavier load. -- Mike Sando

ESPN came to these rankings by rating the teams from 0-100 in a group of 5 categories: roster, excluding quarterback (which accounted for 30% of the total), quarterback (20%), coaching (20%), draft (15%), and front office (15%). The Vikings got the following scores:

Roster - 81.0
Quarterback - 65.0
Coaching - 81.7
Draft - 78.3
Front office - 78.3

As you can see, the thing that really appears to be holding the Vikings back is the perception of Bridgewater to this point. Again, that’s something that’s really going to change this year once Bridgewater steps up and becomes a bigger part of the offense.

The #8 ranking puts the Vikings as the second-highest team in the NFC North, behind the Green Bay Packers at #5. The Vikings and Packers got the same rating from ESPN in the draft category at 78.3, but the two teams split the other four categories. Minnesota got the advantage in the "Roster" category (81.0 to 80.0) and the "Coaching" category (81.7 to 78.3), while the Packers had a huge advantage in the "Quarterback" category (96.3 to 65.0) and a slight edge in the "Front Office" category (83.3 to 78.3). That gave the Packers an "Overall score" of 83.2 and the Vikings a score of 77.1.

It doesn’t look quite as promising for the other two members of the NFC North. The Detroit Lions find themselves tied for 18th place with an overall score of 65.7, while the Chicago Bears are down at #21 with an overall score of 65.4.

The future looks pretty bright for the Minnesota Vikings. . .and the present doesn’t look too bad, either.