Trio of Vikings Made Top 100 List — 3 Snubbed

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Week 1 of 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium versus the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings won 23-1 to kickoff the Kevin O'Connell Era in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Vikings lost some talent in the offseason when they released Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Eric Kendricks, while Patrick Peterson joined the Steelers in free agency. In addition to that, Za’Darius Smith was traded to the Browns. None of the players are in their prime. All but Cook are 30 or older, and Cook will turn 28 in August, a grandpa in running back terms. Despite all of those departures, the Vikings still employ some of the best talents in the league.

Trio of Vikings Made Top 100 List — 3 Snubbed

Pete Prisco from CBS Sports released his annual top-100 rankings, and he included a few Vikings.

Trio of Vikings Made Top-100 List - 3 Snubbed
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) looks on prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, the best player of the Vikings is Justin Jefferson. It is undisputed, and the only debatable thing is how high he should be ranked after posting league-leading numbers that resulted in the win of the Offensive Player of the Year trophy and the nomination as the only non-QB finalist for MVP. Jefferson will most likely be the highest-paid receiver in the NFL in a few months.

He clocks in at the seventh spot behind three passers (Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen), a couple of defenders (Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett), and tight end Travis Kelce. All of them are elite players, and to put a trio of QBs at the top is acceptable. Prisco rightfully praises Jefferson: “He led the NFL in catches (128) and yards (1,809), while also leading in receptions of 20 or more yards (28). He is the league’s best receiver heading into next season.”

Vikings LT Christian Darrisaw Just Got More Expensive
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

The analyst placed Christian Darrisaw as the second-best Viking at the 56th position: “In his second season, he developed into a good pass protector on his way to being one of the best in the league. Getting his body in shape allowed him to take his game to the next level.”

Darrisaw had a wonderful season after an injury-plagued debut campaign. He kept Kirk Cousins clean and was a real bully in the running game. The sky is the limit for the former first-rounder, and the only way to stop him from having a bright future is the two concussions he suffered in 2022, an alarming number. Keeping the head out of the play must be his top priority. There’s a decent chance he will represent the NFC at the Pro Bowl in the upcoming season after he was snubbed in 2022.

The third and final Viking in the top 100 is Harrison Smith. Prisco ranked him 97th: “The Vikings miscast him last season, playing him mostly in the deep middle, but he should be rejuvenated in the new defense under Brian Flores.”

1 Viking Significantly More
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) reacts after breaking up a pass against the New York Jets during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Indeed, coordinator Ed Donatell robbed him of his versatility by using him only deep instead of using his talent as a Swiss army knife. Brian Flores wants his defense to be versatile, and Smith is a perfect fit for that. Flores’ blitzing scheme and Smith’s ability to blitz is a match made in heaven. The safety has already stated his excitement about the new scheme.

Two ex-Vikings made the list. For some reason, Prisco added Peterson and Cook. Peterson had a hot start but slowed down late in the year, while Cook wasn’t an efficient running back despite his excellent numbers.

A trio of Vikings has a good case to be among the top 100 players in the NFL – Kirk Cousins, T.J. Hockenson, and Danielle Hunter. Two were part of the 47 honorable mentions, but Hockenson was strangely left off.

Hockenson Chatter
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Hockenson was one of the elite tight ends in football last season. He was heavily featured in the passing game as the second option, and only Kelce had more receiving yards at the position. The Pro Bowler is definitely one of the best 147 players in the NFL.

Cousins went to his fourth Pro Bowl. While the rankings are subjective, and comparing players from different positions is hard, it should be mentioned that Justin Fields made Prisco’s player index at 78.

Hunter had quietly a good season, ranking in the top 10 of edge rushers in both QB pressures and hurries. There’s a reason why he wants to be paid like a top pass rusher in the NFL. Hunter is arguably the team’s top defender and, at age 28, still has something left in the tank.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt