Lunchbreak: 3 Vikings Included in PFF’s Top 101 from 2018

Rankings of players and teams from the 2018 season are in full force.

Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently released its Top 101 Players from last season, and three Vikings are included in the group.

Wide receiver Adam Thielen was the highest-ranked Viking on the list, making his second appearance in the Top 101. The PFF analysis team wrote the following:

Adam Thielen cemented himself as a hands-down number one wide receiver in 2018. He earned a receiving grade of 89.5, ranking seventh at the position, and gained an average of 2.10 yards per route run, tied for 18th out of 108 qualifying wide receivers.

PFF didn’t list another Vikings player until No. 98, where it slated Danielle Hunter. The defensive end was a new entry on the Top 101.

Hunter has been remarkably consistent in each of his four seasons with the Vikings in terms of PFF grade. In 2018, he finished with a 78.4 overall grade and generated 67 total pressures.

Vikings safety Harrison Smith, whom PFF listed as the most efficient tackler among his position in 2018, rounded out the list at No. 101.

Although his overall grade dropped to 79.7 this season from 91.8 in 2017, Smith remained elite against the run with a 91.3 run defense grade, best among safeties. He was also one of the most reliable tacklers in the NFL with a 21.5 tackle efficiency rating, again, best among safeties who logged 400 or more snaps.

Topping PFF’s rankings this year were Rams DT Aaron Donald, Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, Saints QB Drew Brees and Eagles DT Fletcher Cox.

View the best exclusive images shot by team photographers of Vikings special teams during the 2018 season.

2 Gophers among invitees to NFL Scouting Combine

The NFL on Thursday afternoon released its full list of players invited to the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.

A total of 338 prospects received invites to the combine, which will be held from Feb. 26 through March 4 in Indianapolis.

Among the pool of prospects are two Golden Gophers: linebacker Blake Cashman and offensive lineman Donnell Greene.

Cashman, a native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, started 11 of 12 games for the Gophers as a senior in 2018. He led the team with 104 tackles (62 solo), 2.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He was named Second-Team All-Big Ten by the media and Third Team by coaches.

As a redshirt senior in 2018, Greene played in 11 games and started 10 of them at left tackle. He blocked for a Minnesota offense that averaged 28.9 points per game (tied for second-most in a season since 2005). The Gophers rushed for 23 touchdowns and passed for 20 behind a line helped by Greene, a native of Marietta, Georgia.

Jared Allen to serve as alternate in USA Curling National Championships

On Saturday night in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 10 men’s and eight women’s curling teams will battle for national titles and the opportunity to represent the U.S. at the World Curling Championships.

According to The Bemidji Pioneer, Vikings Legend and five-time Pro Bowler Jared Allen will serve as an alternate:

Jamie Sinclair and Rich Ruohonen are back to defend the national titles they won last March in Fargo, [North Dakota]. Sinclair is looking for a three-peat, which hasn’t been done since Debbie McCormick led her team to four straight titles from 2006 through 2009.

Joining the Ruohonen rink as alternate is Jared Allen, the retired Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler.

The field also features 2018 Olympians John Shuster, Matt Hamilton, John Landsteiner, Nina Roth, Tabitha Peterson, Becca Hamilton and Cory Christensen.

After the round robin concludes Feb. 14, the top four men’s and three women’s teams will advance to the Page playoffs Feb. 15.

According to the article, the 2019 Women’s World Championship will be held March 16-24 in Silkeborg, Denmark. The Men’s World Championship will be March 30-April 7 in Lethbridge, Alberta.

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