As the first 10 players of the NFL’s Top 100 dropped last night, Minnesota saw three Vikings from the 2022 roster crack the lineup: Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks, and Dalvin Cook. As their standings could be debated, it’s always interesting to see where the league ranks and values other players on each roster. The bright side is Minnesota already For a 13-4 campaign in 2022, Minnesota raised eyes last season and a handful of Vikings made noise throughout the year. Truly, there’s probably about ten or so Vikings that could be in contention, but here are six Vikings that should crack the list this year.
HM Brian O’Neill
- O’Neill’s value is undeniable, and he is one of the best right tackles in the league. He has constantly been consistent and 2022 was no exception. However, offensive line recognition is hard to come by and though Vikings fans know his worth, it is unlikely O’Neill sees his name crack the top 90.
OT Christian Darrisaw
- Darrisaw is easily one of the best young Vikings in the league and is a cornerstone left tackle. Though he didn’t have a full season in 2022, as he played in just 14 games, the games he did appear in spoke volumes. During last year’s campaign, Darrisaw graded out at an impressive 90.3 overall PFF grade, allowing just 5 sacks and 20 pressures throughout the season. As a blindside protector, he’s a key cog in what Minnesota did last year and Darrisaw carved out a name for himself throughout the season. His strong play and improvement on the field lands him on his first Top 100 list in his young career and look for this name to be a mainstay moving forward.
Anticipated Rank: 85
OLB Za’Darius Smith
- Smith joined Minnesota from NFC North rival Green Bay in the spring of 2022 and promptly hit the ground running. In his first (and only) season with the Vikings, Smith made his presence felt, as he terrorized opposing quarterbacks and collapsed pockets and running lanes consistently. After a down year in 2021, Smith’s play on the field returned to the likes of 2020 and 2019 in regard to sacks, tackles for loss, QB hits, and tackles, as he earned a Pro Bowl bid and finished ninth in terms of Comeback Player of the Year Voting. Smith cracked the Top 100 the two years prior to last year, so expect to see him return to this list this year.
Anticipated Rank: 82
Updated Ranking: 84
CB Patrick Peterson
- Another veteran who is no longer with the team, Peterson had an incredibly successful 2022 campaign, posting a career year and one of the few bright spots on the Vikings defense. Though he didn’t make a Pro Bowl, Peterson constantly made plays on the ball and consistently lined up against opposing top receivers. When all was said and done, Peterson racked up 5 interceptions and 15 pass defenses (his highest marks since 2012), 66 total tackles (high highest ever), and 3 tackles for loss (tied for most, 2019). As a player and a leader, Peterson made his final season in Minnesota memorable.
Anticipated Rank: 68
TE TJ Hockenson
- Acquired partway through the season, Hockenson quickly became a crucial piece of the offense and without him, the back half of 2022 probably looks drastically different. Hockenson was already regarded as one of the best young tight ends, but he smashed his career highs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards while tying his high in receiving touchdowns. The former Iowa Hawkeye took a great step forward and his name entered the conversation for the best tight end in the NFL (still Kelce though). 2022’s Top 100 list saw Hock land at 93, however expect him to go much higher after last year’s run.
Anticipated Rank: 48
Updated Ranking: 105
QB Kirk Cousins
- Captain Chainz was the talk of the year last season and for all the division he brings amongst fans, he leads and leads well. In his first year with Kevin O’Connell, Kirk saw one of his most successful campaigns since arriving in the Twin Cities and his play helped propel the offense to a top ten finish. As a player, he made big time throws and big time plays to extend drives and lead Minnesota to a historic number of end-game drives. With Netflix’s Quarterbacks provided a more humanized and deep connection with the Purple and Gold QB, yet Cousins remain underrated and he shouldn’t be. Expect a solid jump on the Top 100 for him.
Anticipated Rank: 46
WR Justin Jefferson
- Not much to say here, as Jefferson is the best young receiver in the league (yes, better than Jamarr Chase and Christian Watson). Since entering the league and becoming a full time starter in Week 3 of his rookie year, J-Jettas never looked back and has crushed record marks along the way, most notably Randy Moss’ franchise record. As he eyes 2k yards and Calvin Johnson’s single season record in 2023, Jefferson was the best player on the field for Minnesota in 2022 and cracks the top ten for the first time since Adrian Peterson did so in 2016.