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How strong is the “core” of the Vikings’ roster?

Well, it’s okay, we suppose

New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

We continue to push our way through list-a-mania season around the NFL, and today we bring you something fairly positive about our Minnesota Vikings. Even better, this ranking could potentially get better in the near future.

Behind the great E$PN paywall, Seth Walder of ESPN Analytics ranks all 32 NFL teams by their “core,” which he defines as their five most important players. The Vikings make a decent showing here, even if it isn’t as good as we might hope.

The “core” of the Vikings, as defined by Walder, consists of these five players

  • QB Kirk Cousins
  • OT Christian Darrisaw
  • TE T.J. Hockenson
  • DE Danielle Hunter
  • WR Justin Jefferson

With that core, the Vikings rank 13th, largely because of Jefferson’s greatness.

If you can’t have an elite quarterback, the next-best thing is an elite wide receiver. There’s perhaps no one better at the position than Jefferson, and he’s the primary reason the Vikings are in this spot.

The intro to Walder’s article says that age does play something of a role in determining who a team’s core players are, and that’s why this could potentially get better for the Vikings in the future.

If we assume that this is the final year for Kirk Cousins with the Vikings. . .and, given the things that they’ve done this offseason, that isn’t the craziest of assumptions. . .the team will likely be looking to find themselves a young quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft. If they hit on that quarterback, they could find themselves significantly higher in rankings like these going forward.

Surprisingly, despite being only 13th in the overall rankings, there are only three NFC teams ahead of the Vikings. Those teams are Philadelphia (3rd), Dallas (6th), and San Francisco (10th). That ranking also puts them ahead of all three of their NFC North rivals, with Detroit the next-closest team at #18, Green Bay at #24, and Chicago at #25.

Will the Vikings climb in these rankings in the near future? If Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah want to remain employed by the Vikings for the long term, they’d better hope that it does. If it doesn’t, it means they likely missed on their quarterback of the future and likely won’t get another opportunity to find one.

(Hat tip to Will Ragatz at Sports Illustrated for finding this one first.)