Pete Prisco of CBS Sports took a look Thursday at each NFL team and identified the player he thinks is the most underrated on the roster. For the Vikings, Prisco said linebacker Anthony Barr doesn't get enough love. Prisco wrote:
Barr, the team's first-round pick in 2014, has developed into one of the best outside linebackers in the league. He is long and can run and has instincts needed for the position. His interception of Peyton Manning against Denver last season shows his ability to play in coverage. I also think if he rushed more, his sack numbers would go up after getting 3.5 last season.
Prisco's picks for most underrated for the Vikings division rival teams were quarterback Matthew Stafford (Lions), defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (Bears) and defensive end Mike Daniels (Packers).
People are finally starting to notice [Daniels'] play, but not enough. He doesn't rack up big numbers in their scheme, getting 18 sacks in four seasons and four in 2015. But his game is much better than those sack numbers. He influences the quarterback and he is good against the run.
Prisco also picked a player as the most underrated in the entire league: Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams, whom Prisco opined was a "big Pro Bowl miss" last season.
NFL.com 'Bold Prediction': Laquon Treadwell will be 2016 Rookie of the Year
NFL analysts have made predictions of all sorts leading up to the 2016 season. NFL Media's Elliott Harrison recently made a bold prediction for each of the 32 teams. Harrison's prediction for the Vikings? That first-round draft pick Laquon Treadwell will earn Rookie of the Year honors.
[Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer has publicly asked that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater take more of a leadership role. Everyone not named Mike Zimmer wonders if Bridgewater will take more vertical shots. If he does, that will certainly help Treadwell's productivity. Really, though, the first-round pick's body positioning and ability to compete (successfully) should make a difference on third-and-6 and in the red zone, and that is precisely where Minnesota needs him. It's between the receiver and running back Ezekiel Elliott for the hardware, man.
Other bold predictions on Harrison's list included Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford having his most efficient NFL season after Calvin Johnson's retirement, the Panthers losing "at least six games" and quarterback Blaine Gabbert starting the entire season for the 49ers.
Vikings excited to be close to fans in U.S. Bank Stadium
After the Twin Cities media received a tour of U.S. Bank Stadium Tuesday, a number of Vikings players received their first inside looks at their new home Thursday. ESPN's Ben Goessling wrote that a number of players noted how close they will be to Minnesota fans.
Veteran center John Sullivan said the proximity of the fans to the field will off a unique challenge to opposing teams, which he appreciates.
"I'm surprised by how close the seats are to the field, and I'm excited, because it's going to make it really, really difficult on opposing teams," Sullivan said. "Just making adjustments on your bench with the fans literally on top of you will be extremely difficult."
The Vikings spoiled the Green Bay Packers first game at the renovated Lambeau Field in 2003, and they won the NFC North with a Week 17 victory last season in Green Bay. The first game in 2016 between the teams will provide a fitting spectacle for the new stadium, and an early test for the Vikings' new home-field advantage.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd also told Goessling that being close to the fans is a positive feature of the new stadium.
"Walking out of the locker room onto the field with all your teammates, and walking by the fans. The [Dallas] Cowboys have Plexiglass up [in their field suites] to block people from touching and interacting. I like how the Vikings don't have that. They're just fans; they're here for us […] It's pretty cool to come up with some celebrations [with them]. It's just a lot to look forward to."