Folks around here — and beyond — know "The Chef's" special.
Another reminder occurred Saturday when the "Madden 22" ratings were released and Dalvin Cook topped all Vikings with an overall of 94.
The running back's rating edged out third-year phenom receiver Justin Jefferson by one point.
Top 10 Overall Ratings for 2022 Vikings
1. Dalvin Cook 94
2. Justin Jefferson 93
3. Harrison Smith 90
T-4. Danielle Hunter 88
T-4. Eric Kendricks 88
T-4. Adam Thielen 88
7. Za'Darius Smith 86
8. Brian O'Neill 83
9. Kirk Cousins 80
10. Patrick Peterson 78
Cook (fifth among all running backs), Jefferson (sixth among receivers), Harrison Smith (ninth among safeties) and Kendricks (eighth among linebackers) landed in the top 10 of their respective positions across the NFL.
Top Categories for Vikings
The popular video game used 53 subcategories for rankings. Some of those apply best to certain positions.
Jefferson was a 91 or higher in 14 different categories, and Cook scored 91 or higher in 10 to pace the Vikings. Cook received 95s in agility, change of direction and ball carrier vision, which should be of no surprise to folks who have seen him scamper.
Jefferson's 97 in stamina and awareness should bode well for gamers who want to feature him in their approach. His 94 for catching and in spectacular catch, 88 for catch in traffic and strong scores in route running at every depth (92 for short, 92 for medium and 93 for deep) will be nice perks, too.
Thielen garnered a 91 or higher in six categories, led by his whopping 98 in spectacular catch and 93s in catching and catch in traffic.
Harrison Smith was next among Vikings with ratings of 91 or higher in five categories, led by his 95 in injury and 93s in stamina and hit power. The Hitman still has it.
Cousins' top rating was a 98 in play action, followed by a 94 in injury and a 91 in toughness. His accuracy ratings were consistent at every depth category (90 for short and 89s in mid and deep).
Peterson (four categories), O'Neill, Hunter and Kendricks (three categories each) also landed multiple marks of 91 or higher.
Vikings with speed to burn
Aside from overall, there's usually quite a bit of interest in speed ratings. Dan Chisena, who ran track in college at Penn State, leads the way for the Vikings. Cornerback Parry Nickerson and running back Kene Nwangwu also played most of their snaps on special teams last season. Nwangwu showcased his speed on kickoff return touchdowns of 98 and 99 yards as a rookie. Two members of the Vikings 2022 NFL Draft class — safety Lewis Cine and running back Ty Chandler — were next on the list.
1. Dan Chisena 95
T-2. Parry Nickerson 94
T-2. Kene Nwangwu 94
T-4. Lewis Cine 93
T-4. Ty Chandler 93
T-6. Dalvin Cook 91
T-6. Justin Jefferson 91
T-6. Andrew Booth, Jr. 91
T-6. Kris Boyd 91
T-6. Jalen Nailor 91
T-11. Patrick Peterson 90
T-11. Akayleb Evans 90
T-11. Ihmir Smith-Marsette 90
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 14, 2023.
Whose heads are on swivels?
Awareness is another category that is of interest to me since it can stretch across the entire roster.
Anyone who has seen Jefferson run after a catch probably won't be surprised that he is rated at 97 in the category. He just has an innate ability with the ball in his hands that "Jets" seems to play on a different plane than defenders.
It's also not surprising, given the way Kendricks is always in on the action. Here's the top five Vikings, according to the game, in terms of awareness:
1. Justin Jefferson 97
T-2. Eric Kendricks 93
T-2. Za'Darius Smith 93
4. Dalvin Cook 92
T-5. Adam Thielen 91
T-5. Danielle Hunter 91
Infusion of tacklers
Five of the top 13 speed ratings belong to players selected in the draft this spring, but the Vikings also boosted their defense in tackle rating during free agency. Beyond Kendricks, who has led Minnesota in tackles in six of his seven seasons (and would have in 2020 if not for a calf injury), the next four highest ratings belong to players who have been added in the past two years of free agency.
1. Eric Kendricks 86
2. Dalvin Tomlinson 85
T-3. Jordan Hicks 84
T-3. Za'Darius Smith 84
T-3. Harrison Phillips 84
Tomlinson joined Minnesota in 2021 and is expected to pair with newcomer Phillips as the defensive linemen help create opportunities for 2022 signees Hicks and Za'Darius Smith.