Well, we've done 25 of the top 30 Vikings, so I guess it's only fair we give you our top five. If you've missed any of these segments and want to know who we ranked where, you can go:
Here for 30-26, plus our rationale.
click this for 25-21
Open this hyperlink for 20-16
15-11 can be found right here
And finally, 10-6 is here.
So, without any further delay...
Eric and Ted proudly present our top 5 Vikings for 2016:
|#5||Alex Boone, G||Everson Griffen, DE|
|#4||Adrian Peterson, RB||Anthony Barr, LB|
|#3||Blair Walsh, K||Adrian Peterson, RB|
|#2||Linval Joseph, DT||Linval Joseph, DT|
|#1||(tie) Teddy Bridgewater, QB/ Harrison Smith, S||Harrison Smith, S|
Ted: Alex Boone, G. Boone was signed for one reason, aside from his talent, and that's to give the offensive line an edge and an attitude. His signing was also the first to improve both the quality and depth on the line, and was probably the off-season's biggest free agency move. As a short, fat, bald guy that could be pummeled by anyone on the Vikings roster, I'm not going to sit here and call the group soft. But I do think it's fair to say there seemed to be a lack of intensity or focus, and if nothing else Boone will bring that to this group. And how the o-line goes will determine how good the Vikings will be.
Eric: Everson Griffen, DE. Griff has hit double-digit sacks for the past two seasons, but that only tells part of the story of how he can terrorize opposing offenses. He's always near the top of the league in any metric that measures total pressure and he's getting much better against the run too. It's going to be fun to see another season of Griffen unleashed on the league in his prime.
Ted: Adrian Peterson, RB. As long as Adrian Peterson is a member of this football team, trying to marginalize or downplay his contributions to the offense is sophistry. The offense runs through him, plain and simple, and it will until he is no longer on the team. With no sign of slowing down, teams still must account for him on every play, and if they don't, he'll usually make them pay for it.
Anthony Barr, LB. Admit it. You were kinda bummed when the Vikings took him 9th overall in the 2014 draft. But Barr has quickly silenced all doubters with his amazing combination of instincts, athleticism, and work rate. If you built a linebacker suited for Mike Zimmer's defense in a lab, Barr would be the result. And he's only entering his third year! The sky is the limit for Barr. He could be topping my list before long.
Ted: Blair Walsh, K. Walsh is one of the best young kickers in the NFL, and yes, you win as a team and you lose as a team. No one player or play is responsible for a team winning or losing a football game...but some plays are bigger than others. And no play was bigger than Walsh's missed field goal in the Wild Card game against Seattle. If the Vikings are going to contend for the Super Bowl, special team are just as important as offense and defense, and a 27 yard field goal is a play an elite kicker and an elite team make.
Adrian Peterson, RB. It's crazy to think that one of the best football players ever to wear a Vikings uniform and one of the best pure rushers the game has ever seen still has room for improvement entering his 10th NFL season. But if AP wants to remain the bell cow of this offense, he needs to get better in the passing game, with both blocking and receiving. His body is still in tip-top shape at age 31 (I'm fairly certain he's part cyborg, and his workouts are exhausting even to read about). He just needs to make up his mind to contribute to all facets of the offense. If the (relatively) old dog can indeed learn new tricks, watch out.
Ted: Linval Joseph, DT. Joseph was simply the best DT in the NFL last year, and as important as guys like Everson Griffin and Xavier Rhodes are, when Joseph missed games due to injury the defense went from elite to mortal, with stretches of frightening mediocrity. The Vikings defense is a completely different animal with Joseph disrupting the middle.
Eric: Linval Joseph, DT. Hey look, finally another exact match! To paraphrase the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" meme: Rick Spielman doesn't always spend in free agency. But when he does, he gets guys like Linval Joseph. What a steal the former Giant has been at just over $6 million a year. The big guy is an absolute menace in the middle and should turn in another All-Pro-level season in 2016.
Ted: Teddy Bridgewater and Harrison Smith (tie). TED YOU CHEATED YOU HAVE TWO GUYS BOOOO. Sorry, can't help it. These two guys, in my opinion, are the two most important players on the Vikings this year. How far this team goes rests on the shoulders of Teddy Bridgewater, plain and simple. A great defense is important, special teams is important, and a good running and passing game is important, I get that. But this team ‘feels' like a championship contender...with one caveat. And that caveat is Bridgewater. He doesn't need to pass for 4,000+ yards and 30 TD's, but he needs to throw more than 14. When you look at how good the defense and running game is, a passing game that is more consistent, keeps a defense honest, and must be defended against makes this team a tough, tough out.
And one of the reasons the defense is so good is because of Smith. He is as important to the defense as Bridgewater is to the offense. Watching the defensive line unravel when Joseph was out would be a preview of the defense if Smith were to be hurt for an extended time. Smith is, quite simply, the best safety in football, and getting him signed to a long term extension was the best news that came out of this off-season.
Eric: Harrison Smith, S. Yes Ted, your Bridgewater/Smith combo platter at the top is a TOTAL COP OUT, and also totally wrong because Smith deserves the throne by himself. (At least for now.) When Smith got the contract extension that made him the highest paid safety in the NFL, most football fans reacted with surprise. Most Vikings fans just said, "Yep, sounds about right." Smith is the most important cog of the defensive machine that Mike Zimmer is building in Minnesota, which is why he gets my vote for the top spot. There is no player on this roster better at his craft and more crucial to the team's success than number 22. He's gonna earn those big bucks.
So there you have it--our top 30 Vikings players as we painfully crawl toward the end of an interminable offseason and inch closer to Training Camp. We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed compiling the lists. Debate away on who you'd have in your top 5 in the comments below.