When the Minnesota Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to his massive three-year, fully-guaranteed contract during the 2018 offseason, the assumption was that it would come at the expense of the other talented players on the roster. After years of drafting well and accumulating a lot of incredible talent, they couldn’t possibly keep everyone after giving Cousins all that money, could they?
Well, keep them they have, and the folks from Pro Football Focus have taken notice.
Behind the great E$PN paywall, PFF ranked all 32 of the rosters in the NFL in terms of talent, and the Vikings are still in the top ten, checking in at #9 overall.
The greatest strength of the team, according to PFF, is not what you think it might be.
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen form one of the league’s best pass-catching tandems, and they’ve paved the way for three different quarterbacks to have career years since 2016. With another year of continuity with Kirk Cousins, their ascension should continue. They ranked in the top 25 in yards per route run last season, making the Vikes one of only three teams to see two receivers record at least 550 snaps in route and still rank in the top 25.
As we’ve pointed out in the past, it says a lot about just how good Thielen and Diggs are when you look at how highly the Vikings’ “receiving corps” is regarded. Beyond Thielen and Diggs, it’s just a lot of question marks and potential right now.
The biggest weakness, on the other hand, is exactly what you probably think it is.
The Vikings’ interior offensive line lacked positive play in 2018, as Mike Remmers and Tom Compton each registered below-average grades and Pat Elflein was the league’s lowest-graded center. The trio combined to allow 109 QB pressures, which is only 17 fewer than the Bears’ entire offensive line gave up last season.
Well, two of the three guys that made up that trio are now gone, and the third is apparently playing another position with rookie Garrett Bradbury bumping Elflein from center to left guard. Hopefully that will help. After all, nowhere to go but up, am I right, folks?
The potential “X-factor” for 2019 probably isn’t going to surprise anyone, either.
Anthony Harris. Arguably Minnesota’s best defensive player last season, Harris made his biggest impact in coverage, where he saw just 13 targeted passes. Still, he recorded three interceptions and two additional pass breakups with a long reception of just 18 yards. He’s on the rise, and the Vikings saw enough out of him to let Andrew Sendejo walk to the Eagles this offseason.
Harris did receive the highest PFF grade of any member of the Vikings’ defense last season after stepping in for Sendejo. He signed his restricted free agent tender this offseason, and is now playing for a big contract in 2020, whether it’s with the Vikings or elsewhere.
What do you think, folks? Are the Vikings still one of the ten most talented teams in the NFL?