Training camp is well over a month away, but football fever is building. In Monday's edition of Lunch Break, we saw MMQB's Peter King peg the Vikings at No. 6 in his League-wide power rankings and we noted that CBSSports.com's Will Brinson identified the Vikings as a big-time playoff sleeper heading into 2015."
On Tuesday, the 2015 projections continue.
ESPN.com's Ben Goessling took to Twitter to harvest and then answer Vikings-related questions. Here is one of the questions he fielded:
"What do you envision Bridgewater's passing stats to look like at the end of the year?"
In projecting Bridgewater's 2015 statistics, Goessling pointed to the first-year and second-year numbers produced by Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. Bridgewater's completion percentage in 2014 (64.4) was superior to those of Brees (60.8) and Wilson (64.1) in their respective rookie seasons, but obviously both Brees and Wilson picked it up in Year 2 and subsequent seasons. Given the improvement Bridgewater demonstrated over the course of his rookie season plus the presence of Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, Goessling says a similar uptick in production could be in the cards.
"In Year 2, you'd like to see Bridgewater continue to improve as he pushes the ball down the field and cut down on the number of interceptions," Goessling wrote. "If Bridgewater can hit receivers in stride the way we saw him do at the end of the season, I'd expect both his yards-per-attempt number and his touchdowns to increase…
Goessling went on to add: "Assuming Bridgewater winds up with a little higher completion percentage, can he wind up in the neighborhood of 3,100 yards, 22-24 TDs and 10 picks? The Vikings would have to be very happy with that kind of a progression, I'd imagine."
Vikings rookie evaluations: WR Stefon Diggs
An already speedy crew of WRs on the Vikings roster got even faster in this year's draft, says the Star Tribune's Master Tesfatsion. In taking an in-depth look at rookie WR Stefon Diggs, Tesfatsion is optimistic about Diggs' prospects at the NFL level.
"Mike Wallace. Charles Johnson. Cordarrelle Patterson. Jarius Wright. There's already a lot of speed at wide receiver, and the Vikings brought in more with Diggs," Tesfatsion wrote. "It's not that he can just fly down the field, but his biggest strength is how quickly he can change direction and accelerate."
Tesfatsion breaks down what he views as Diggs' strengths and weaknesses, lauding the WR's athleticism and his ability to gain yards after catch while also calling into question his injury history and a need to improve against press coverage.
Overall, the scouting report on Diggs was good.
"Diggs fits in line with the receivers on the roster, and he adds an element of getting yards after catches," Tesfatsion said. "With his hands, speed and change of direction, Diggs can turn into an effective slot receiver."
You can view the rest of Tesfatsion's Vikings rookie evaluations here.
Blanton Named to NFL.com's All-Underrated Team
When discussing the safety position on the Vikings roster, one's mind immediately goes to Harrison Smith. The hard-hitting and versatile DB is a stalwart and leader on Mike Zimmer's defense. As many stars as Zimmer has coached during his career, the veteran coach is also known for working wonders with under-the-radar players.
One under-the-radar player who was recently placed right on the radar is Robert Blanton. NFL Media Analyst Elliot Harrison named Blanton to NFL.com's All-Underrated Team this week.
Wrote Harrison: "Blanton represents one of the few inexperienced players on our list. He faced stiff competition, edging out Mike Adams and James Ihedigbo, among others, simply because he is almost never mentioned on TV or radio or in print. Blanton secured over 100 stops last season, and you could count on one hand how many he missed."
It's good for Blanton to receive some recognition, particularly given how productive he was for the Vikings last season in starting 13 games and collecting 111 tackles. But it's not a lock that Blanton will hold down his starting gig in 2015. He could be viewed as the favorite to win a starting job given his incumbent status, but the Vikings have plenty of competition at the spot and it will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch from now through the end of the preseason.
Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes that Vikings WR Mike Wallace has vowed to "convince the non-believers."
The Vikings have one of the bright, young starts at QB in the NFL, but they are set to spend the fifth-lowest total on the position in 2015, reports 1500ESPN's Andrew Krammer.
It's never too early for a mock draft. Jamey Eisenberg, Senior Fantasy Writer at CBSSports.com, presents a 12-team, 15-round fantasy football mock draft right here.