Every year, CBS Sports' Pete Prisco rolls out a list of his top 100 NFL players for the upcoming season.
Prisco unveiled the lineup Wednesday morning, and three Vikings were included in the best of the best – including two in the top 50.
Wide receiver Justin Jefferson was the highest-ranked Viking at No. 13; he was the third wideout listed, behind Cooper Kupp (No. 5) and Davante Adams (No. 11). Prisco wrote:
View the best photos of Vikings WR Justin Jefferson from the 2021 season.
In his second season, [Jefferson] finished fourth in catches with 108 and second in yards with 1,616. He also had 10 touchdown catches. It's scary to think what type of leap he can make this season as he better understands the position.
Editor's note: I'm not sure how much more Jefferson needs to "understand" the position, but it's certainly intriguing to see how he'll be used in new Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's system.
The next Viking on Prisco's list was running back Dalvin Cook, who came in at No. 41 entering his sixth season in Purple.
He didn't quite have the season some expected, but he still rushed for 1,159 yards in 13 games, missing time because of injury and COVID [protocols]. He also caught 34 passes, and that number should go up this season as the Vikings might use him more in the passing game – even outside.
And the third Minnesota name in the rankings? Safety Harrison Smith snuck in at No. 99.
The veteran safety is coming to the end of his career, but he put the talk that it's over to rest last season with another impressive year, even on a bad defense. He can do so many things as a safety in any scheme.
Prisco also named "honorable mention" selections, among which were Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and defensive end Danielle Hunter.
NFL.com's Rank dives into 'State of the Vikings' for 2022
With Organized Team Activities and minicamps now in the rearview mirror across the league, NFL.com is diving into "State of the (insert team here)" for each of the 32 clubs.
Adam Rank recently tackled the Vikings, starting with a 2021 Rewind and projected 2022 VIPs: O'Connell and Cousins. Rank wrote:
We are getting closer to the point where it's going to feel like every NFL head coach is from the Sean McVay tree. O'Connell has been an NFL assistant coach for seven seasons, spending the [past] two as offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. I see one thing to be worried about going forward:
I know that O'Connell was among the league's most highly regarded assistants prior to his hiring. He's said to be very bright. He's one of the better San Diego State quarterbacks I can recall. But McVay calls the plays for the Rams. Which means O'Connell will now be getting his feet wet as a play-caller while also learning how to be an NFL head coach.
The counter here would be that Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor, another former assistant for McVay, has made a transition similar to the one O'Connell is attempting. However, it took Taylor some time to get it together; he won six games combined in his first two seasons before reaching Super Bowl LVI. And honestly, it took Joe Burrow to make it all come together. Can Kirk Cousins do the same thing?
Rank said Cousins "isn't the worst choice" but also wouldn't be his among his top choices at QB. Rank does believe the Cousins-O'Connell partnership could pay off for Minnesota, though.
View photos of the Vikings 2022 coaching staff.
The hope here is O'Connell has the same impact on Cousins that Sean McVay had on Matthew Stafford in Los Angeles. And again, they are familiar with each other. O'Connell accepted the job already knowing Cousins' strengths. That should be taken as a positive.
The third VIP for the Vikings probably goes without saying: Jefferson. Rank projected Jefferson to be Minnesota's MVP in 2022.
My colleague Peter Schrager recently ranked Jefferson as the top wide receiver under the age of 25. I'll take it one step further and say Jefferson is the best receiver in the NFL right now. He leads the NFL with 3,016 receiving yards since 2020. That's the most through a player's first two seasons in league history. He's averaged 15.4 yards per reception since 2020, which is tied for second-most in the league over that span (min. 100 receptions). Dude is the real deal. And I'm probably more excited for him in this new offense than I am for Cousins.