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Lunchbreak: The Athletic Tabs 1 Non-QB MVP for Every NFL Team


Most often when the NFL announces its Most Valuable Player for a season, that player is a quarterback; in fact, it's been a QB every season since 2013, the year after former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson earned the honors.

Even on individual teams, it's easy to point to the quarterback as the position with the most impact.

But if passers were taken out of the equation, which players across the league would earn MVP for their respective teams? The Athletic asked its beat reporters just that. For the Vikings, Alec Lewis called it an easy decision to select wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Lewis wrote:

Breaking news: He is a good player. Quick, fast, versatile, dependable, tough … you know. Head [Coach] Kevin O'Connell has, and this is not hyperbole, built an offense around Jefferson's skill set. He is the primary pass catcher on most downs, and once defenses decide to double (or triple) him, he becomes an essential decoy.

Lewis added that Minnesota signing free agent running back Aaron Jones this offseason provides "an interesting layer" to the 2024 season.

The more success the Vikings have on the ground, the fewer men defenses can allocate to Jefferson in coverage. And the fewer men defenses can allocate to Jefferson in coverage, the more he can take over a game. The record-breaking extension will not prevent Jefferson from wanting to set reception and receiving yard records, especially after missing nearly half of last season with a hamstring strain.

Jefferson was one of nine receivers tabbed as their team's "MVP" by The Athletic's reporters. The others were Marvin Harrison, Jr. (Cardinals), Drake London (Falcons), Ja'Marr Chase (Bengals), Davante Adams (Raiders), Tyreek Hill (Dolphins), Malik Nabers (Giants), Garrett Wilson (Jets), A.J. Brown (Eagles) and Chris Godwin (Buccaneers).

Interestingly, two of the above wideouts are rookies who haven't yet played an NFL snap – and the Vikings are slated to face both of them this season.

View exclusive photos of Vikings players posing during a photoshoot in the U.S. Bank Stadium tunnel backdrop.

Minnesota will open its season on the road against Nabers, whom the Giants drafted No. 6 overall out of LSU. The Athletic's Charlotte Carroll said she also considered Dexter Lawrence and Brian Burns for the honor but ultimately went with New York's first-round pick.

With Saquon Barkley gone, the offensive focus will be dialed in on the rookie Nabers. He's shone early in spring and has that "it factor" of a top wide receiver. If this Giants offense is successful, it will be part of that QB connection with Nabers. Nabers' arrival also should allow Jalin Hyatt and Wan'Dale Robinson to be more successful. Nabers relishes the opportunity to prove himself, and there's no doubt he wants to accomplish big things at the next level.

Then in Week 13, the Vikings will host the Cardinals – and their fourth overall pick in Harrison – at U.S. Bank Stadium. Doug Haller wrote the following:

Running back James Conner is coming off a 1,000-yard rushing season and is among the more underrated backs in the league. Defensively, safety Budda Baker is a difference-maker and a great example of how the game should be played. But if the Cardinals are to make a jump — as many expect they will — it will be because of Harrison, their talented first-round selection. Is it fair to pick a rookie as non-QB MVP? Probably not. But during summer workouts, almost everyone agreed Harrison is not your typical NFL rookie. Expectations are high. All he has to do is deliver.

Click here to read the full breakdown of non-QB MVPs across the league.

PFF names 5 offensive linemen poised to break out in 2024

Analytics site Pro Football Focus is especially excited about the prospect of five offensive linemen who could take a big step forward for the 2024 season.

PFF's Sam Monson didn't include a Viking in his list of five, but it's still worth looking at – because Minnesota will face four of them during the regular season, including two of them twice, and potentially one in the preseason.

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2024 regular season opponents.

Monson topped his list with Green Bay's Rasheed Walker. The Vikings, of course, are slated to play Walker and the division rival two times.

Perhaps the most under-the-radar candidate on this list, the seventh-round pick from the 2022 NFL Draft earned the starting job for the Packers last season. Early in training camp, he looked like a major work in progress but earned a solid overall grade of 66.3 and was particularly good in pass protection (74.7) in his first year of starting action.

The Packers drafted a tackle in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft — Jordan Morgan out of Arizona — but they have a history of drafting college tackles to play guard at the next level. Morgan could theoretically push Walker for the starting spot at left tackle, but he could just as conceivably kick inside to play guard, leaving Walker to develop in his second season starting.

Walker has outstanding size (6-foot-6 and 324 pounds) and posted just two below-average PFF game grades as a pass blocker in his first season as a starter. He will be very good next season if he can continue his progression. If he can improve his run-blocking, he could become outstanding.

Monson then listed Bears tackle Braxton Jones, Eagles center Cam Jurgens, Titans guard Peter Skoronski and Cardinals tackle Paris Johnson, Jr.

The Vikings are scheduled to face Chicago in Weeks 12 and 15, Tennessee in Week 11 and Arizona in Week 13, while they'll play at Philadelphia to conclude the preseason.

The Titans used the 11th overall pick in 2023 to grab Skoronski out of Northwestern.

His rookie year was only solid at best, but his best game was his season debut before he had an appendectomy and didn't return until Week 5. That downtime caused him to lose size and strength in-season, and he never really had much opportunity to rebuild it before he was needed again. He essentially had to deal with adjusting to a new level, at a new position, undersized and understrength because of appendicitis.

Year 2 will give us a much fairer indication of what Skoronski can be, even if the team elects not to give him a try at left tackle and keeps him inside at guard.

As a rookie, he surrendered 32 total pressures from 521 pass-blocking snaps but did have several impressive single-game performances, including the one game he featured in before appendicitis.