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Lunchbreak: 4 Vikings Land on Midseason All-Pro Teams

Posted Nov 9, 2017

The Vikings have used a collective team effort to post a 6-2 record and be in first place in the NFC North, with different players seemingly stepping up each week.

A handful of players were recently recognized for their consistency through the first half of the season, however, as they made various Midseason All-Pro teams put out by multiple media outlets.

Andy Benoit of the Monday Morning Quarterback compiled a team and highlighted wide receiver Adam Thielen and cornerback Xavier Rhodes for their standout play thus far.

Benoit wrote:

No one is talking about how the Vikings are 6-2 despite playing 6 ½ games with backup quarterback Case Keenum. A big reason Keenum has looked so prepared each week is the Vikings run a crisp, clever passing game that uses a lot of switch releases (receivers crossing paths off the line of scrimmage). And a big reason that passing game has been so crisp is Thielen. He’s as precise a route runner as there is in the game.

Thielen currently ranks sixth in the NFL (and second in the NFC) with 627 receiving yards. He is 11th overall with 48 receptions and is the only NFL player with at least five catches in every game this season. The Minnesota native also has one touchdown this season.

Benoit praised Rhodes for his coverage ability, saying the former first-round pick has developed into an elite cornerback.

He travels with No. 1 wideouts for the NFL’s (seventh)-ranked pass defense (in terms of yards per game). At times, this includes into the slot, which is unusual for a long-armed jammer who is so good at using the boundary. Among the receivers Rhodes has thoroughly defeated this year: Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Marvin Jones and Davante Adams. He’ll have to keep thriving. The second-half schedule includes Sammy Watkins, Julio Jones and A.J. Green.

The cornerback has helped the Vikings rank seventh in the NFL by allowing just 200.8 yards per game. Minnesota also ranks third by allowing just 16.9 points per game.

Rhodes, who has 27 total tackles (according to coaches’ tally) with an interception, tackle for loss and five passes defended, was one of three Vikings defenders honored on another Midseason All-Pro team.

Field Yates of ESPN gave some love to Minnesota’s defense as he acknowledged Rhodes, defensive end Everson Griffen and safety Harrison Smith.

Yates wrote:

Rhodes has eliminated opposing top wide receivers. He has unique length for the position and excellent speed. He's physical and tough, a requirement to play cornerback for Mike Zimmer. The "Rhodes Closed" mantra he lives by is an accurate one.

Griffen also made Yates’ list, as the defensive end ranks third in the NFL with 10 sacks.

Perhaps an overlooked standout relative to other pass-rushers around the league, Griffen has been as consistent of a player as there is in the league this year on defense. He has at least one sack in all eight of Minnesota's games this season. He's forceful at the point of attack and a relentless rusher.

The third and final player recognized by Yates was safety Harrison Smith, who leads the Vikings with three interceptions. Smith also has 1.5 sacks and seven passes defended.

Smith does it all for the Vikings' secondary, as he has terrific on-ball production in the passing game this season with three interceptions and six passes defensed, while also flexing versatility. He has 1.5 sacks and 43 tackles as the quarterback of a secondary that has helped lead Minnesota to the top of the NFC North.

Elflein listed on Midseason All-Rookie team

Every NFL General Manager wants to draft players that make an immediate impact.

That is exactly what Vikings center Pat Elflein has done, as the rookie has played every one of Minnesota’s 558 offensive snaps so far in 2017.

Elflein, a third-round pick out of Ohio State, was recently named to Pro Football Focus’ Midseason All-Rookie Team for his strong start to his career.

Elflein is the middle man on an offensive line that has allowed just 10 sacks, the second-fewest total in the NFL. The Vikings also rank ninth overall with 120.0 rushing yards per game.