Though the start of Training Camp is getting closer and closer, we’re still in the ranking/list-a-mania portion of the NFL calendar. With that, however, we have a new list of player rankings to look at that has several members of the Minnesota Vikings prominently featured.
Pro Football Weekly has compiled their “Super 50” list, which is their top 50 players in the National Football League regardless of position. The Vikings are represented by three members of the squad, all on the defensive side of the football.
The lowest-ranked of the trio is cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who comes in at #38 on PFW’s list.
With the exception of Jalen Ramsey in Jacksonville, there might not be a better press cornerback prototype than Rhodes, the long, fast and physical Florida State product who has blossomed under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer into one of the game’s most feared cover men. Rhodes has decreased his penalties in three straight seasons, over which he’s improved markedly as a ballhawk and student of the game. Rhodes is a strong run defender and top competitor who travels with — and neutralizes — WR1s most weeks, which is reflected in the five-year $70 million deal he inked last offseason.
I wonder if Rhodes and Ramsey will be comparing notes or anything when the Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars have their joint practices here in a little over a month.
Speaking of the Minnesota secondary, safety Harrison Smith is at #31 on the list. His bio is at the same one as Rhodes’, so I won’t link it again, but here’s what they have to say about him.
He was one of 2017’s most egregious Pro Bowl snubs, which is particularly asinine because it was perhaps the two-time Pro Bowler’s best season, ending in first-team All-Pro honors. Smith matched a career-high five interceptions, several of the clutch variety, including a Week 5 game-clincher in primetime vs. the Bears. The 29-year-old also led the NFL’s No. 1 scoring ‘D’ with 12 passes defensed, and his 78 tackles trailed only Eric Kendricks for the team high. Although Minnesota is loaded with blue-chip game-changers on ‘D,’ offensive coordinators’ tasks often begin with locating the versatile Smith. Indeed, he’s a rugged throwback defender who seemingly does it all, but Minnesota needs him to help answer one more question: What’s with its late-season defensive nosedive in back-to-back years?
I’m pretty certain the late-season “nosedives” aren’t all on Harrison Smith, but I will continue to maintain, as PFW does, that Smith is the most important player on the Minnesota defense, and I think he holds that title by a pretty significant margin.
Last, but not least, defensive end Everson Griffen makes PFW’s list as well, coming in at #23.
Frustratingly inconsistent early in his career and prone to jumping offsides, Griffen has become a far more reliable and impactful defender over time. Playing through plantar fasciitis last season, Griffen logged a career-high 13 sacks and three forced fumbles in 15 games. Opponents still can draw him off with hard counts (especially on third downs), but showing more discipline down the stretch last year and playing on such a talented front this year have the arrow pointing way up for Griffen entering his age-30 season.
Maybe Griffen’s offsides penalties just seem to happen more frequently than they actually do. We know he’s good for at least a few over the course of the season, though.
You can see the entire Pro Football Weekly “Super 50” list right here.
Do you think the three Vikings that made it are too low on the list? Or, possibly, too high on the list?