Vikings Ended Up with 3 Players in ‘NFL Top 100’

Update Swats Away
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings fetched three players in 2022’s edition of the player-voted ‘NFL Top 100.” The year before, 2021, the club showcased four players.

Three Vikings once again represented the franchise this season, with placement as the noteworthy takeaway.

Vikings Ended Up with 3 Players in ‘NFL Top 100’

Every summer, NFL players vote on the sport’s best individual personalities, and the list’s reveal breaks up the monotony of the summer.

These three Vikings made the cut.

Harrison Smith, No. 97

with 3 Players
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Perhaps a tip of the cap to lifetime achievement, the Vikings strong safety snuck in the bottom bowl of this year’s rankings.

Smith has been a member of the Vikings since 2012 and is the longest-tenured player — by far — on the roster. He was the NFL’s 37th-best safety in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus, but the Vikings defense often looked uncoordinated without him. And with Lewis Cine injured for the season early in October, Minnesota would’ve been down to peanuts without Smith on the depth chart.

Now, with Brian Flores in charge, Smith will have free reign in the Vikings secondary, likely to be utilized as a pass rusher more frequently to align with Flores’ aggressive modus operandi.

Oddly, 2023 marked Smith’s first appearance on the list since 2020.

Kirk Cousins, No. 42

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Sandwiched between Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson (No. 41) and Houston Texans linebacker Demario Davis (No. 43), Cousins made the cut via player voting for the seventh time in his career. In fact, it’s the highest placement for Cousins amid his 11 seasons in the business.

Here’s his history with the countdowns, with a reminder that Cousins took over as a full-time starter in Washington in 2015:

Kirk Cousins,
NFL Top 100 Rankings,
Career:

2016 = 85th
2017 = 70th
2018 = 94th
2019 = 78th
2020 = 58th
2021 = n/a
2022 = 99th
2023 = 42nd

That’s a 57-spot climb for Cousins, who somehow outranked Aaron Rodgers (No. 51, New York Jets) and Lamar Jackson (No. 72, Baltimore Ravens), among others like Trevor Lawrence (No. 96, Jacksonville Jaguars) and Tua Tagovailoa (No. 82, Miami Dolphins).

Cousins ranks fourth leaguewide in touchdown passes and fifth in passing yards since joining the Vikings via free agency five years ago. He also authored 8 game-winning drives last year, which appears to have driven his ranking up in this year’s version of the NFL Top 100.

Justin Jefferson, No. 2

Somebody Was Out
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

This could probably be captionless — but Jefferson is the NFL’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year and holds every ‘through-first-three-seasons’ receiving-yards record under the sun.

Per player voting, only Patrick Mahomes is a better football player than Jefferson at the moment, and you know, fair enough on Mahomes.

Jefferson’s WR peer in Washington, Terry McLaurin, said about the league’s second-best player, “He produces when everybody is looking to try to take him away. I think that’s the next step in the evolution. I think it just shows the trust that he’s earned from his quarterback. As a receiver, we all want that kind of trust from our quarterback and our team in that gotta-have-it situation.”

The 24-year-old will defend his OPOY crown this September and hope to chase 2,000 receiving yards in a single season.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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