Each season, ESPN ranks the "under-25" talent for each of the 32 NFL teams. Prior to the 2015 season, the Vikings ranked seventh in the league. This time around, Minnesota moved up to number six.
ESPN guest writer Scott Kacsmar, of Football Outsiders, pointed out that the Vikings were the league's only team to send multiple players (Teddy Bridgewater and Anthony Barr) under the age of 25 to the Pro Bowl following the 2015 season. He wrote:
Bridgewater's passing plus-minus, which adjusts for where and how far the ball was thrown, ranked fifth in 2015. Plus, despite being pressured on a league-high 36.0 percent of his plays, Bridgewater still ranked in DVOA's [Football Outsiders rating system] top 14 with and without pressure.
Kacsmar said that there are areas in which Bridgewater can improve, but he still considers him the best under-25 quarterback currently in the league.
He got a great start from wide receiver Stefon Diggs last season, and first-round pick Laquon Treadwell figures to add a boost to the passing game.
Kacsmar also put second-year cornerback Trae Waynes and rookie Mackensie Alexander on the radar, saying he expects their production to put Minnesota in the top five of the rankings next season.
Kacsmar ranked the Jaguars (previously No. 9), Texans (previously No. 16) and Dolphins (previously No. 2) as the top three teams for under-25 talent, respectively.
Terrell Davis: Vikings believe they can win the Super Bowl
In an episode of NFL Total Access, Lindsay Rhodes, Terrell Davis and Willie McGinest discussed the Vikings mentality headed into this season after being NFC North champs and making the playoffs in 2015.
Davis said that the 2015 season confirmed that the Vikings are a talented team.
"They're a playoff-caliber team," Davis said. "They're confident.
"Realistically, I think there are only about eight teams that believe, firmly believe, that they can win the big game," Davis continued. "I think Minnesota might be in that conversation this year because of what happened last year."
Davis said he thinks Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has changed the mentality of the Vikings and that his players "really believe in what's going on in Minnesota."
Vikings carrying cast of young receivers
Minnesota's roster carries a wide age range, from defensive end Danielle Hunter (21) to cornerback Terence Newman (37). The Vikings wide receivers, however, are just generally young. Mark Craig of the Star Tribune caught up with Newman at training camp to talk about the receiving corps. Craig wrote:
As the Vikings search for playmakers to better complement quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, they've gone young. Real young. At 27, Charles Johnson is the graybeard. Jarius Wright, 26, is the only other receiver older than 25.
"Every team that I'm on, every receiver is young," Newman told Craig. "You know what, I think Cincinnati was pretty similar. I don't remember an old veteran receiver over there. I'm trying to think when I left Dallas, I think it was the same way. So I'm used to seeing a pretty young group."
Craig also pointed out that the Vikings receivers offer a good mix of physical attributes.
Six of the receivers are 6-2 or taller. Four are 6-foot or shorter. If you think every NFL receiver has to be a giant to move the chains and succeed in the NFL, you need to watch more tape of the 5-10 Jarius Wright.