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Lunchbreak: ESPN Rates Current Vikings Chances of Making Hall of Fame

Vikings Legend Steve Hutchinson is becoming the 15th member of the franchise (people who spent all or most of their careers with Minnesota) to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2020 class (although the ceremony is postponed until 2021).

When looking at Minnesota's current roster, which players have the best shot at ending up in Canton someday? ESPN's Bill Barnwell recently asked that question for every NFL team, largely relying on the players' current résumés. He wrote:

View photos of Vikings legend Steve Hutchinson at NFL Honors who was recognized after recently being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Instead of trying to project their chances by guessing what they'll do in the future, I'm looking at what they've done so far, comparing them to players at similar points in their careers, and seeing how often players with those sorts of careers made it into the Hall of Fame. I'll do a little bit of projecting the future here and there, given historical aging curves and what we know about each player's injury history, but this is almost entirely about what each player has done so far.

For the Vikings, Barnwell put defensive end Danielle Hunter and safety Harrison Smith in the "in the running" category, saying there's a 40-69-percent chance they'll end up in the Hall after hanging up their cleats.

Barnell said, "We don't talk enough about Hunter," who last year became the youngest player (25 years, 40 days) to notch 50 career sacks since the stat became official in 1982.

He has the third-most sacks through his age-25 season of any player since the league made it an official stat in 1982, trailing only Derrick Thomas and J.J. Watt. He's ahead of guys like Von Miller, Dwight Freeney, Terrell Suggs and Bruce Smith, and while he played more games than all but Suggs, the fact that he was a productive pass-rusher from the jump as a 21-year-old is a positive. Hunter just needs more individual recognition to raise his chances. He deserves it.

View photos of Vikings players who participated in workouts at TCO Performance Center.

While Barnwell opined Hunter's chances as "probably somewhere in the 65-percent range," he showed a little less love to Smith, whom he argued has more of a 40-percent chance.

He has made five consecutive Pro Bowls and has a First-Team All-Pro appearance. The Notre Dame product probably needs a second one to have a viable shot at Canton. With Anthony Harris hoovering up interceptions and Jamal Adams and Minkah Fitzpatrick emerging, the 31-year-old Smith probably needs to earn that nod in the next year or two.

In addition to Hunter and Smith, Barnwell mentioned the names of linebacker Anthony Barr and receiver Adam Thielen. He put the teammates in the "work to do" category, saying they have a 10-39-percent chance of making it to the Hall of Fame.

Thielen only emerged as a starter after turning 26, which means he would have to play into his late 30s to have a chance at racking up the cumulative stats modern wide receivers will need for enshrinement. Barr made four consecutive Pro Bowls from 2015 to 2018, but it'll be tough for him to get the First-Team All-Pro votes he'll need for Canton without racking up significant sack totals. There could still be a season in which [Head Coach] Mike Zimmer needs to use Barr as an edge rusher and he ends up with 10 sacks, but that's not going to be enough.

The Athletic provides oral history of Peterson's 2012 comeback

The Athletic currently is rolling out a series counting down the 40 greatest comebacks in sports, and former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson came in at No. 36.

Chad Graff dug deep into the return of Peterson, who tore his ACL at Washington on Dec. 24, 2011. As Vikings fans well know, the running back not only returned in time for the 2012 season but rushed for an incredible 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to All-Pro and Pro-Bowl honors.

Graff followed the entire journey, from Peterson's initial injury to Minnesota's playoff loss in the 2012 postseason. You can view the entire account here.

But being that Verizon Vikings Training Camp is underway at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, let's take a look at the Vikings 2012 training camp when Peterson already showed glimpses of his incredible return.

View the Vikings rookie records for most points and most touchdowns scored in a season.

Graff quoted Vikings Vice President of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman, who said, "By training camp, I knew we had a slam dunk."

[Vikings RB Toby] Gerhart: I was preparing to be the starter. But the whole time, I'd see Adrian running on the side getting faster and faster as the offseason progressed, so there was a sense of, 'I'm not going to put it past him.'

Peterson: I was telling them, 'I'm ready to go, man. I'm ready.'

[Vikings WR Percy] Harvin: I was rehabbing at the same time. I was coming off shoulder surgery. They were trying to keep us controlled on the side, doing our own things. But we started competing quickly. He wanted to race up the hills.

Gerhart: He always wanted to challenge people to races.

Harvin: That's when I knew he was ready. I had been rehabbing my shoulder so my legs were fine. So for him to be keeping up with me, I already knew it was going to be trouble.

Sugarman: He was smoking Percy, and Percy was one of the fastest guys I've ever seen.


Harvin: By the time we left Mankato, they still hadn't let him do full pad drills. But he was getting some handoffs in no contact. And he was starting to cut a little. The quarterbacks that used to hand him the ball said they could feel a force as he went by. And when we left Mankato, us receivers were feeling that force just as we were blocking. So when we left Mankato, we said, 'Boy, he's got a serious chance at something special.'