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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr among Vikings’ most indispensable players

By Andrew Krammer

The 2014 roster rebuild was followed up by the Vikings’ 11-win season, and in the months since they’ve kept nearly the entire roster intact.

The retention has been especially focused on defense, the team’s backbone, as they’re on track to return more than 90 percent of snaps for the second straight offseason. Overall, 10 of 14 unrestricted free agents would’ve agreed to new deals should veteran linebacker Chad Greenway ultimately re-sign, as he’s expected to do.

After Mike Zimmer began to see some of the fruits of the Vikings’ labor applied to a new system and culture, they’ve sought consistency while making choice additions to the roster. They have the 23rd-overall pick in next month’s draft, though they have cornerstones in place with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, linebacker Anthony Barr and nose tackle Linval Joseph. So here’s my ranking of the Vikings’ most indispensable players to maintain success.

1. DE Everson Griffen – Mike Zimmer emphasizes two defensive keys, pressure the quarterback and cover, which the Denver Broncos just rode to a Super Bowl championship. As cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes exhibit growing pains, the Vikings’ current point men under that hierarchy are defensive end Everson Griffen and linebacker Anthony Barr. Griffen gets the nod here because he’s entering his age 28 season and has compiled 23.5 sacks in 32 games since becoming a full-time starter. Playing through a partially torn labrum, Griffen notched four QB hits, two sacks and a forced fumble in the Vikings’ division-clinching Week 17 win at Green Bay. A fourth-round pick in 2010, Griffen is now the prominent player in the Vikings’ strongest position group.

2. LB Anthony Barr — The second canine tooth to the Vikings’ pass rush, Anthony Barr could quickly climb to the top of this list should he develop as anticipated. Barr is one of Zimmer’s star pupils and the marquee player in his double-A gap blitz schemes. He’s a rare combination of size and speed, and has taken to NFL coaching entering just his fifth year playing the linebacker position. This is more about what Barr is expected to do, after his play and role have been limited by injuries, including a troublesome knee as a rookie and a broken hand last season that dropped his blitz rate. He has 10 pass deflections, an interception, 7.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in 26 career games.

3. QB Teddy Bridgewater — Through 29 NFL starts, Bridgewater hasn’t produced the eye-popping stats some might have envisioned when he was lighting up the college ranks. But the number the Vikings ultimately hold up is 17, which is his win total compared to 12 losses. Moving forward, the hiring of offensive assistants in Pat Shurmur and Tony Sparano, two former head coaches, were made with the thought of bringing new ideas for Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson. And over time, the offense is expected to shift toward Bridgewater’s strengths. The quarterback is the most important position, though he’s No. 3 here because of a Vikings defense that could keep him from many rescue missions.

4. RB Adrian Peterson – The future Hall of Fame running back turned 31 this month, and just showed he’s still among the best with nearly 1,500 yards behind a shorthanded offensive line. While last offseason was spent focusing on Peterson’s age and ability, this year provides another intriguing situation — can he become the ‘better fit’ he vowed to after the season?

5. NT Linval Joseph —

First out

S Harrison Smith —

G Alex Boone —

CB Xavier Rhodes —

WR Stefon Diggs —

OL Joe Berger –

The post Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr among Vikings’ most indispensable players appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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