It’s no secret that the Minnesota Vikings have a ton of talent on their roster. We’ve seen that declaration from numerous sources over the course of the past few months, and another one confirms that declaration today.
Over behind the great E$PN paywall, the folks from Pro Football Focus have ranked all of the rosters in the National Football League, and have placed the Vikings at #5 overall. These rankings are based on PFF’s grades and who they project as starters for the coming season.
Here’s what they have to say about the Vikings’ roster:
Biggest strength: Harrison Smith’s 97.0 grade last year established a new PFF-era record for the safety position. He missed just two tackles all season, second best in the league among safeties with at least 20 on both run and pass plays (Arizona’s Antoine Bethea missed just one).
Biggest weakness: Tom Compton is penciled in as Minnesota’s starting left guard for now, but he has struggled in pass protection throughout his NFL career. Last year in Chicago was the first of his six-year NFL career as a guard, and he posted a pass-blocking grade of just 42.6.
By the numbers: The Vikings certainly hope new signal-caller Kirk Cousins brings with him the deep-passing ability he displayed last year in Washington, as his 106.4 passer rating on pass attempts that traveled at least 20 yards through the air was fifth best in the league.
For some reason, the folks from PFF have Compton as the starter at left guard and not Nick Easton. I’m not exactly sure why they’d do that, because I’d be shocked if Easton didn’t reclaim his spot back (barring another injury, of course). However, with Compton as the starter at left guard, PFFs grades from last season has four of the Vikings’ five starters on the offensive line with grades below 50, which is not good. Only Mike Remmers has a semi-decent grade, and even he is still below 70 at 69.6.
At the offensive skill positions, the Vikings appear to be pretty solid, with Stefon Diggs being the highest-graded player on the team at 85.4 (out of 100). They have Kirk Cousins at an 78, a figure which I’m fairly certain will be going significantly higher this season.
Defensively, on the other hand, only three of the projected contributors have grades of lower than 75. They are Mackensie Alexander at 43.8, Anthony Barr at 71.4, and Trae Waynes at 74.1. Everyone on the defensive line stands at a grade above an 80, with Everson Griffen’s 89.2 leading the way. On the back end, Harrison Smith has a grade of 97, which was an all-time high for the safety position as PFF notes above.
The four teams that PFF put above the Vikings were the Philadelphia Eagles, the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints, and the New England Patriots. Not for nothing, but the Vikings showed on the field that they were better than two of those teams last offseason, and they’ll see three of those teams on the field in 2018.
Among the rest of the NFC North, PFF has the Green Bay Packers at #11 overall, the Detroit Lions at #15, and the Chicago Bears at #22.
If I had to venture a guess, when the folks from PFF do these rankings again next season, the Vikings will manage to be higher on the list than they were this time around.