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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Position-by-position: Stacking up the Vikings vs. The NFC

By Matthew Coller

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings - Sun, 18 Dec 2016 12:58:35 EST

The NFL Draft and free agency will have a significant impact on how the NFC stacks up heading into next season. So as we enter the offseason, how do the Minnesota Vikings compare at each position?

Quarterback

Sam Bradford had the best year of his career despite joining the Vikings just days before the regular season and working around one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Some of the same question marks remain about whether he can improve on third downs, work past his first read and extend plays by moving within the pocket like the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Teams who are clearly better:

Green Bay, Detroit, Dallas, Atlanta, Carolina, Seattle, Washington

Teams who are clearly worse:

Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles

Too close to call:

Tampa Bay Bucs, Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants

Biggest questions: Will Washington give Kirk Cousins a long-term extension? Can Dak Prescott avoid a sophomore slump? Will Carson Palmer retire? Can Carson Wentz take a step forward?

Top PFF ranks: ATL – Matt Ryan (2), GB – Aaron Rodgers (3), SEA – Russell Wilson (5)

Running back

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings - Thu, 01 Dec 2016 19:27:06 EST

Certainly this depends on whether Adrian Peterson is back in purple and gold. If the Vikings move on from A.P., then they will have only Jerick McKinnon and Bishop Sankey as players with significant NFL experience on the roster. A move in free agency and/or pick in the draft to acquire another duel-threat running back is an absolute must.

Clearly better:

Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers

Clearly worse:

New York Giants, Tampa Bay Bucs, Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers

Too close to call:

Washington, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions

Biggest questions: Will Doug Martin and Todd Gurley bounce back from bad years? Will Adrian Peterson land with one of these teams? Can Seattle find another Marshawn Lynch? Can Ty Montgomery continue to rise as a running back?

Top PFF ranks: DAL – Ezekiel Elliott (2), ARI – David Johnson (4), CHI – Jordan Howard (8)

Wide receiver/tight end

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings - Sun, 20 Nov 2016 14:47:11 EST

Minnesota’s top two receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen both ranked in the top 20 best by Pro Football Focus grades. Diggs took a step forward after showing progress in his rookie season, but his numbers suffered somewhat because of a lack of deep passing game and nagging injuries. Thielen went from undrafted to a top-notch all-around receiver whose route-running and size combined to make him a tough matchup. The Vikings will have to decide whether to re-sign Cordarrelle Patterson or add a receiver in free agency. Rookie Laquon Treadwell may still have potential, but his first season couldn’t have been a bigger disappointment. Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph had a career year playing in the West Coast offense.

Clearly better:

Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Washington, New York Giants, Detroit Lions

Clearly worse:

San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles

Too close to call:

Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys

Biggest questions: Will the Panthers spend in free agency for receivers? Where will Alshon Jeffrey land? Can Larry Fitzgerald continue to play at a high level?

Top PFF ranks: ATL – Julio Jones (1), TB – Mike Evans (2), NO – Michael Thomas (6)

Offensive line

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears - Mon, 31 Oct 2016 18:35:57 EDT

If the Vikings could fix just one position this offseason it would be offensive line. They were ranked second to last (ahead of Seattle) by Pro Football Focus this season. The only reason the NFC’s other poor offensive lines belong in the “too close to call” category is the Vikings had an incredible run of injuries and likely would have just been sub-par rather than ghoulish up front.

Clearly better:

Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Washington, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles

Clearly worse:

None

Too close to call:

Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Bucs, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants

Biggest questions: Which teams will land top free agent linemen? Will the Eagles trade Jason Peters?

Top PFF ranks: Dallas (2), Green Bay (5), Atlanta (6)

Defensive line

Minnesota Vikings defenders Tom Johnson, from left, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter celebrate after sacking Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 31-13. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The Vikings sent two of their defensive linemen to the Pro Bowl and the defensive end who ranked in the top five in sacks Danielle Hunter got left off. No departures are expected this offseason outside of the possibility the Vikings cut Brian Robison. While they were a dominant group, the NFC sports some fantastic defensive lines.

Clearly better:

None

Clearly worse:

Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Washington, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans

Too close to call:

Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants

Biggest questions: Will Jason Pierre-Paul return to New York? Will Carolina franchise tag Kwann Short? Will the Cardinals keep Calais Campbell? Can the Lions fix their poor D-line?

Top PFF ranks: LAR – Aaron Donald (1), PHI – Brandon Graham (3), NO – Cameron Jordan (4)

Linebackers

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers - Sun, 25 Sep 2016 12:08:40 EDT

Coming into the 2016 season, the biggest question surrounding the linebackers was whether Eric Kendricks could take the next step and become a consistently solid player. Well, Kendricks did more than that, emerging as a top-notch cover linebacker. However, Anthony Barr struggled mightily, leaving the Vikings to wonder whether he will bounce back. While head coach Mike Zimmer mostly played nickel, when his team did play base defense, the had major issues in coverage.

Clearly better:

Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers

Clearly worse:

New Orleans Saints, Washington, New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Bucs, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams

Too close to call:

Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals

Biggest questions: Will Luke Kuechly retire? Will Atlanta’s Deion James turn into a top coverage linebacker after a strong rookie year? Will the Saints ever improve their front seven?

Top PFF ranks: CHI – Jerrell Freeman (1), CAR – Luke Keuchly (2), SEA – Bobby Wagner (3)

Cornerbacks

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings - Sun, 20 Nov 2016 14:12:23 EST

You could make a strong case for the Vikings having the NFC’s best cornerback group in 2016, but two of the three starters are free agents. If nickel corner Captain Munnerlyn and Terence Newman do not return, then 2015 first-round pick Trae Waynes and 2016 second-rounder Mackensie Alexander will have to make significant improvement. Still, the presence of Xavier Rhodes as an elite shutdown corner puts Minnesota among the best at the position in the league.

Clearly better:

New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks

Clearly worse:

Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Washington, Tampa Bay Bucs, Chicago Bears

Too close to call:

Dallas Cowboys

Biggest questions: Will the Giants bring back Leon Hall or will Eli Apple become a solid corner? Will the Packers go after big-name free agent corners? Will Carolina ever replace Josh Norman? Will Washington get Norman any help?

Top PFF ranks: TB – Brent Grimes (4), NYG – Dominique Rogers-Cromartie (5), NYG – Janoris Jenkins (6)

Safeties

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings - Sun, 18 Sep 2016 18:53:51 EDT

Despite battling a severe ankle injury, Harrison Smith was one of the elite safeties in the entire NFL. He is a dynamic all-around force, who can cover receivers or larger tight ends, shut down the run or blitz off the edge. When he was out of the lineup against Indianapolis, it was clear how badly he was missed. Smith’s partner Andrew Sendejo showed improvement from the past and had a solid year.

Clearly better:

None

Clearly worse:

Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Bucs, Washington, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles

Too close to call:

New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys

Biggest questions: Can Green Bay improve around Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix? Will Earl Thomas actually hang ’em up?

Top PFF rank: NYG – Landon Collins (2), SEA – Kam Chancellor (3), ARI – Tony Jefferson (5)

The post Position-by-position: Stacking up the Vikings vs. The NFC appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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