Vikings Turn Heads in One Branch of Power Rankings

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

During the 2024 NFL Draft build-up, most believed a rookie quarterback would succeed in the Minnesota Vikings’ offense. Minnesota was expected to draft a passer, as a “Big Six” of prospects was present between Rounds 1 and 2.

Vikings Turn Heads in One Branch of Power Rankings

Then, with the 10th overall pick, the Vikings effectuated their draft plan, selecting J.J. McCarthy of Michigan while signing veteran signal-caller Sam Darnold six weeks prior. And according to CBS Sports, no matter who ultimately grabs the QB1 gig, the offensive infrastructure is in place — to the tune of 13th-best in the NFL.

Justin Jefferson Weighs in
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Jared Dubin from that website ranked all the NFL’s top offensive infrastructures, and the Vikings placed in a tier with the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, and Buffalo Bills. He explained the tier, “This is a really interesting tier because we have Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen propping up what are otherwise somewhat ordinary units at this point after they all sustained talent losses this offseason, and then we have the Vikings being dragged down by rookie QB J.J. McCarthy’s rating.”

Image for CBS Sports

McCarthy may not take the reins of QB1 to start the 2024 season, but before too long, he’ll take over the big job.

“Take a look at the non-QB scores and the Vikes come out significantly ahead of the three teams in front of them, but a trio of MVP candidate quarterbacks carry the day for their offenses. If the offensive lines come together for Dallas and/or Baltimore, it of course wouldn’t be a surprise to see them reprise as top-10 offenses, and the same applies to the pass-catchers in Buffalo,” Dubin added about Minnesota’s tier, the third-best in the league.

Not everyone is high on Minnesota’s offense, though. Last week, Bleacher Report nominated the group as the NFL’s eighth-worst offense. “The Minnesota Vikings hit the reset button at quarterback this offseason which means things could get worse before they get better. Long term, J.J. McCarthy is a good fit for the Vikings,” BR’s Alex Ballentine explained. “He appears to have the arm, processing and intangibles to become a good NFL starter. But there’s bound to be a learning curve. He’s coming from a run-heavy offense at Michigan that didn’t ask him to do too much.”

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports | Nov 18, 2023; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) on the field against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

In addition to adding Darnold and McCarthy at quarterback, two men who replaced Kirk Cousins, Minnesota added Aaron Jones at running back, the team’s proposed solution to fix the ground game once and for all. In back-to-back seasons, 2022 and 2023, the Vikings ranked 27th per rushing DVOA. If Jones can stay healthy, he might be the special sauce.

The legitimacy of CBS Sports and Bleacher Report rankings boils down to how proficient Darnold’s or McCarthy’s skillset translates to Minnesota’s offense or how quickly McCarthy acclimates to the NFL. If one of the two shines this summer and early in the fall, the Vikings’ offense should thrive right away.

Kevin O’Connell after his first season with Minnesota. The team finished 13-4, won the NFC North for the first time in five years, and produced the best season by a first-year head coach in franchise history.

On the whole, per CBS Sports, the infrastructure is there — with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, Aaron Jones, Christian Darrisaw, and Brian O’Neill, plus Kevin O’Connell calling the shots.

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).

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