Vikings Have 7 Players on ‘NFL Top 101’ List

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The Minnesota Vikings 2022 season was an overall success, including a 13-win season for the third time in franchise history and the best record for the organization in 62 years with a first-year head coach.

Of course, total jubilation was thwarted by a home loss in the postseason to the New York Giants. The Vikings should’ve taken care of business at U.S. Bank Stadium on that January afternoon, but they did not, and fans now hope the team doesn’t suffer a major regression next season.

Vikings Have 7 Players on ‘NFL Top 101’ List

Along the way in 2022, several Vikings stood off the page as upper-echelon performers while Minnesota also finished the season with an 11-0 regular season record in one-score games. In fact, 7% of all players listed on Pro Football Focus’ Top 101 of 2022 were Vikings.

Vikings Have 7 Players
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In 2021, Mike Zimmer’s final season with the club, the Vikings boasted just two players on the list. Five more men showed up in Kevin O’Connell’s maiden voyage.

PFF described the Top 101 as its top-graded players regardless of position and did not weigh the ranking by position importance. These are the Vikings performers who made the cut:

8. Justin Jefferson (WR)
26. Christian Darrisaw (LT)
51. Za’Darius Smith (OLB)
55. Danielle Hunter (OLB)
68. Brian O’Neill (RT)
78. Patrick Peterson (CB)
97. Kirk Cousins (QB)

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PFF’s Sam Monson first mentioned the 23-year-old Jefferson, “There was very little to separate Hill and Jefferson, who had just one fewer explosive play than the Miami speedster. Jefferson flirted with Calvin Johnson’s all-time single-season receiving record before finishing short with 1,809 yards on the season. Jefferson gained a first down 83 times this season, including the playoffs — the most among wideouts.”

Interestingly, Miami’s Tyreek Hill outgraded Jefferson by one spot.

“Darrisaw’s major breakout season for the Vikings was blotted somewhat when he was rushed back from a concussion, leading to a second one in fairly quick succession. Darrisaw ended the season with an 81.8-plus PFF grade as both a run blocker and pass protector,” Monson opined about the Vikings second-year tackle.

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Two of the men on the list — Za’Darius Smith and Patrick Peterson — have uncertain futures. Smith will likely return in 2023, but Minnesota would save $12.1 million if it released him. Peterson is a free agent and can sign anywhere when the week of March 13th rolls around.

Danielle Hunter can probably expect a contract extension this offseason as the team-friendly deal he signed with Rick Spielman five years ago is finally winding down. Right tackle Brian O’Neill is handsomely paid and contractually connected to the Vikings through the end of 2026.

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Kirk Cousins, the QB1, is scheduled to remain in Minnesota for one more season, although his contract is generally the first offseason domino. Around this time of year for the last four hurrahs, Cousins is extended by an extra year or two, and 2023 may follow suit. Monson mentioned Cousins “now has five straight years with a PFF grade of at least 79.3.”

Last year, Cousins and Jefferson were the only two Vikings to achieve Top 101 status. Patrick Mahomes unsurprisingly ranked atop the 2022 list.

The Vikings are the 16th-likeliest team to win the Super Bowl next year, per oddsmakers.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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