Home > NFL > The Minnesota Vikings are unlike the other teams picking at the top of the 2012 NFL Draft

The Minnesota Vikings are unlike the other teams picking at the top of the 2012 NFL Draft

I’m working on a list of power rankings sorted by Approximate Value rating.  And without divulging too many details of how well teams project towards next year, I can point out maybe the most interesting thing about teams rated by the sum of AV for their roster: the Minnesota Vikings do not even rate close to the bottom.

The Indianapolis Colts, following the retirement of Kerry Collins and the impending release of Peyton Manning, rank on the bottom.  That can’t be too surprising, since they have the first overall pick following a 2-14 regular season.  The St. Louis Rams rank second to last, and they pick second in the draft.  Those pesky overachievers, the Seattle Seahawks, score third from the bottom, comprising the only three teams to score below 300 in combined 3-yr AV totals.

The other teams at the bottom of the AV list can also be found near the top of the NFL draft.  Washington, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay surprise no one by being rated where they are,  The Cincinnati Bengals probably don’t come to mind when you think of teams without established talent because they made the playoffs this past season.  But when you consider how young and unproven the talent that drove them to the playoffs this past season was, it’s hard to say there is a great difference between the Bengals and the Tampa Bay Bucs, who don’t look out of place at all near the bottom of these rankings.

What didn’t make sense, at least to me, was the team picking in the top seven that didn’t show up in the bottom 16 teams.  The Minnesota Vikings rate, by this one measure, closer to being a playoff team than to being a team that deserves to be picking at the top of the NFL draft each of the last two seasons.  That’s a bit problematic, wouldn’t you say.  These rankings are incredibly consistent with results as suggested by the NFL standings, and then you have the curious case of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings are older, and certainly not the team they once were in 2008 and 2009.  But there is being an aging team who is still around, and there is being an aging team that needs to start jettisoning its established talent for the younger players of tomorrow.  Minnesota’s veterans can still play.  DE Jared Allen was a legitimate contender for defensive player of the year.  DT Kevin Williams has a ton of football left.  LB Chad Greenway has enjoyed a better career than you probably suspect he has.  CB Antoine Winfield is still around.  And if you are beginning to believe that the perceived strength of the Vikings is just that the declining defense happens to employ a lot of old guys…well, yeah, thats true, but none of the guys listed there have had the impact that RB Adrian Peterson and WR Percy Harvin (who has quietly enjoyed a similar start to his career as has Peterson) have had on opposing defenses.

Now, some of the optimism for the 2012 Vikings should be tempered because of how serious Peterson’s knee injury was at the end of the the 2011 season.  The Vikings have simply failed to replace the contributions of Brett Favre at the quarterback position from 2009.  Christian Ponder doesn’t exactly have a lot of expectations riding on his shoulders after the the Vikings won just three games last year, but there’s a lot of potential here riding on improved quarterback play.  Ponder has a great opportunity to be the NFL’s breakout player in a season where simultaneously the Vikings defense rebounds from an awful 2011 performance on the back’s of its established vets.

All of this will be dependent on a strong draft class and being able to overcome a treacherous road through the NFC North next year, but the Minnesota Vikings are an early playoff darkhorse in the NFC next year.

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  1. March 7, 2012 at 11:54 am

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