Pete Prisco's annual Top 100 list was released Monday via CBS Sports, and three Minnesota Vikings made the cut.
To no one's surprise, Justin Jefferson was the top-rated Viking and landed in Prisco's top 10, sliding in at No. 7 overall. Prisco wrote:
He led the NFL in catches (128) and yards (1,809), while also leading in receptions of 20 or more yards (28). He is the league's best receiver heading into next season.
As Prisco stated, Jefferson was his highest-ranked receiver entering the 2023 campaign. The six players ranked above him were (from 1-6, respectively) QB Patrick Mahomes, QB Josh Allen, QB Joe Burrow, DE Nick Bosa, DE Myles Garrett and TE Travis Kelce.
Vikings left tackle Christian Darrisaw was slated at No. 56 and was the seventh overall tackle, coming in behind Trent Williams (No. 10), Lane Johnson (18), Andrew Thomas (24), Tristan Wirfs (46), Laremy Tunsil (50) and Rashawn Slater (51). Prisco wrote the following of Darrisaw:
In his second season, he developed into a good pass protector who is on his way to being one of the best in the league. Getting his body in shape allowed him to take his game to the next level.
Last but not least, Prisco listed Vikings safety Harrison Smith at No. 97.
Smith is entering his 12th season in Minnesota and has consistently been a threat to opposing offenses. Prisco opined that the Vikings "miscast" Smith last season but that he'll be "rejuvenated" in a new system under Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores.
View exclusive photos from the 2023 Minicamp practices, shot by Vikings Team Photographer Andy Kenutis.
NFL.com tabs 'make-or-break' candidates for upcoming season
Looking ahead at the 2023 season, NFL.com's Nick Shook said, "The stakes are as high as ever for a handful of notable players."
He highlighted 12 players who could be looking at a "make-or-break season," including Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Shook wrote:
Cousins has carved out a remarkable career for himself. He entered the NFL as an afterthought, a fourth-round pick selected by Washington the same year it selected Robert Griffin III second overall.
Eleven years later, Cousins is a four-time Pro Bowler around whom the Vikings have built a contender. But Cousins is entering the final year of his contract. Minnesota hasn't made any drastic moves to prepare for a future without him, preserving his chances of earning another deal that could put him in line to retire with the Vikings. He's maintained a consistent level of play, completing 65.9 percent of his passes for 4,547 yards and a 29:14 TD-INT ratio in 2022 for a team that won 13 games and the NFC North title.
However, Minnesota's Super Wild Card Weekend exit from the playoffs was followed by the departure of several veteran playmakers this offseason. The team has moved on from Adam Thielen, Za'Darius Smith, Eric Kendricks and Dalvin Cook, among others. […] Will it be Cousins' turn in 2024? If the Vikings decide they like what they have in fifth-round pick Jaren Hall, perhaps the team will turn the page. If they don't wish to go in a different direction under center, Cousins might get one more deal with the franchise that made waves by fully guaranteeing his first deal in Minnesota.
Another name on Shook's list is Bucs QB Baker Mayfield, whom the Vikings are slated to host at U.S. Bank Stadium for Week 1.
Mayfield is now playing for his fourth different team since last summer. The decline has been steep for the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft, a player once billed as the savior of the Cleveland Browns.
Mayfield could turn it all around with a productive season in Tampa. The task won't be easy, though. He arrives in Florida as the successor to the greatest quarterback of all time. Mayfield will team up with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Rachaad White. The weapons, while not quite as deep and diverse as the set with whom Brady won a title, won't be the issue. It will come down to whether the Buccaneers can protect Mayfield well enough to allow him to make plays. From there, it's about Mayfield avoiding the same pitfalls – inaccuracy, turnovers – that doomed him in Cleveland and Carolina.
Mayfield still has the same moxie that once convinced former Browns [General Manager] John Dorsey to spend the first overall pick on him. He'll need to prove he's good enough to be worth a multi-year deal, or else his descent could continue, and Kyle Trask will be there to take the snaps.
To see Shook's complete list, click here.
PFF ranks Vikings WR corps 7th-best in NFL
Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently ranked all 32 wide receiver groups. PFF's Trevor Sikkema ranked the Vikings at No. 7 and wrote the following:
Thank Justin Jefferson for the Vikings ranking in the top 10. Outside of Jefferson, Minnesota has T.J. Hockenson at tight end, a viable option for them. But then it's K.J. Osborn, Jalen Reagor and rookie Jordan Addison.
Still, Jefferson carries due to his three straight elite receiving grades. His 92.5 receiving grade over all three campaigns ranks third to only Davante Adams (94.2) and Cooper Kupp (92.6).
Sikkema ranked Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Dallas ahead of Minnesota.
The Vikings will face the Eagles and the 49ers during the 2023 regular season; they once again are scheduled to visit Philadelphia on the road in Week 2.
A.J. Brown's elite play put the Eagles high on this list on his own, but it's more than just him. DeVonta Smith really took his game to another level in 2022, earning an 80.0-plus receiving grade and putting up over 1,300 yards on the season. And then throw in Dallas Goedert, one of the best receiving tight ends in the league, who has earned a 90.8 receiving grade over the last two seasons, third among his peers behind only Travis Kelce (91.8) and George Kittle (91.3).