As we look ahead to the 2020 NFL season, there's also time to reflect back.
Analytics site Pro Football Focus rolled out its All-Decade Top 101 list Thursday, which ranked players over the past 10 seasons by "production, efficiency and performance." PFF's Sam Monson included two names on the list that will be familiar to Vikings fans, starting with All-Pro safety Harrison Smith.
Interestingly, Smith's placement in the ranking matched his jersey number: 22. Monson wrote the following of Smith, who is entering his ninth season in Minnesota:
Coverage is one of the most inconsistent grading elements PFF looks at; it is, by definition, dependent on the opposition more than most areas, and consistently grading well on the back end is incredibly hard to do. Harrison Smith hasn't had a healthy season result in a grade lower than 75.0 overall, and he has four seasons above 85.0 overall. Smith has been a do-it-all safety for the Minnesota Vikings and has been equally comfortable in deep center field as he is in the box or covering the slot, whether that be against backs, tight ends or even wideouts. At his best, Smith has been the best safety in the league, and the fulcrum that allows [Head Coach] Mike Zimmer's defensive scheme to function.
Smith was bracketed on the list by tackle Andrew Whitworth at 21 and cornerback Darrelle Revis at 23. He was one of nine safeties included in the top 101, joining Eric Weddle (15), Earl Thomas (20), Devin McCourty (26), Kam Chancellor (55), Troy Polamalu (63), Tyrann Mathieu (66), Kevin Byard (93) and Eric Berry (101).
Former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson made Monson's list at No. 35. The 35-year-old, who was drafted by Minnesota seventh overall in 2007, is currently on Washington's roster and poised for his 14th pro season.
Monson called Peterson "one of the most dominant ball carriers the game has ever seen."
For him to rank this highly despite being such a limited factor on passing downs just speaks to how devastating he was with the ball in his hands. Peterson's MVP season of 2012 was the highest single-season grade we ever gave to a running back over the decade. In over 10 years of action, he gained more than 6,000 rushing yards after contact, breaking 364 total tackles over the regular season.
Who led Monson's rankings, you ask? Here are the top 10 players listed, starting with No. 1: QB Tom Brady, DT Aaron Donald, QB Drew Brees, CB Richard Sherman, TE Rob Gronkowski, QB Aaron Rodgers, EDGE Von Miller, WR Julio Jones, DE J.J. Watt and LB Luke Kuechly.
The Vikings are scheduled to play against six of PFF's top 10 of the decade during the 2020 season: Rodgers (Weeks 1 and 8), Watt (Week 4), Jones (Week 6), Brady/Gronkowski (Week 14) and Brees (Week 16).
To see Monson's full all-decade 101, click here.
Randle among 6 Hall of Famers who would 'kick butt' in modern-day NFL
Every year, new names are enshrined forever in the Pro Football Hall.
It's fair to say the NFL, along with its players, has evolved over the years, as Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant pointed out in a recent KFAN interview with Fran Tarkenton.
But looking at the athletes in Canton Ohio, which ones could still fit into modern-day NFL? New York Daily News NFL writer Charles McDonald weighed in on the question for SB Nation, highlighting six Hall of Famers he believes “would still kick butt” in today’s game.
Included on McDonald's list was former Vikings defensive tackle John Randle, who played for Minnesota from 1990-2000. During that time, he received seven Pro Bowl nods and was named First-Team All-Pro six times. McDonald wrote:
Before Aaron Donald, there was John Randle. Like Donald, Randle was an undersized defensive tackle (6'1 and 290 pounds) who was a menace as a pass rusher. Randle totaled at least 10 sacks in nine of his 14 NFL seasons and led the league in sacks in 1997 with 15.5.
Unlike Donald, Randle went undrafted — but that didn't stop him from putting together a Hall of Fame career.
Randle was simply a better athlete than the offensive linemen he was playing against.
Randle joined LB Lawrence Taylor, QB Dan Marino, RB Barry Sanders, WR Sterling Sharpe and DE Bruce Smith on McDonald's list.
View the top photos of Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph from the 2019 season.
Rudolph 'meets' with Notre Dame TEs
College and NFL teams alike are navigating restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and prepping for their seasons remotely until allowed to meet as a team.
While Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph participates in Minnesota's virtual offseason program and gets in some at-home workouts, he also made time to address the position group at his alma mater.
Notre Dame tight ends coach John McNulty shared a screenshot of Rudolph "meeting" with the players earlier this week.