As Sam Bradford prepares for his second season in Purple, he'll have the luxury of a full offseason with Vikings coaches and teammates. It's a sharp contrast to 2016, when Bradford was acquired via trade barely two weeks before he made his first start.
NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks said that Bradford doesn't often get included in conversation about the league's top passers, but he believes Bradford is "poised to crack the top 10 at his position" in 2017.
Brooks said he's been watching Bradford's game film and becomes increasingly convinced that he "has the goods to take his game to another level" in Minnesota. Brooks pointed out that Bradford in 2016 had career highs in completion rate (71.6 percent to break the NFL record), passer rating (99.3) and yards per attempt (7.0). He wrote:
*The eighth-year pro posted highly efficient numbers as a passer while mastering a system on the fly and developing chemistry with a group of pass catchers without the benefit of OTAs (organized team activities) and minicamp practices. Not to mention, he was forced to play behind a leaky offensive line that was ravaged by injuries for most of the season. *
Bradford's spectacular play in adverse circumstances could foreshadow his rise to the top in 2017. He not only survived the calamity, but he actually thrived as the orchestra conductor of an offense that wasn't designed to showcase or enhance his talents. Although Bradford's production and efficiency weren't celebrated due to the Vikings disappointing finish after a 5-0 start, his stellar play might've prompted the team to rebuild the offense around his skill set.
Brooks highlighted the guidance of Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, entering his first full Vikings season at the position, in addition to offseason moves that included bolstering the offensive line through free agency and the draft and adding running backs Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook.
To be an elite quarterback in this league, a field general needs to have the right scheme and supporting cast to thrive. In Minnesota, Bradford is finally in a situation that will allow him to play like the signal caller everyone envisioned when he came off the board as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Vikings could have division's top RB group
Minnesota's running back room headed into the 2017 season has a much different look in the wake of the Adrian Peterson era.
The Vikings signed Murray as a free agent and drafted Cook with the 41st overall pick, and John Holler of *Vikings Update *said the Vikings may have the best run game in the NFC North this season after struggling on the ground in 2016.
Holler made the prediction after assessing the Vikings current talent at running back and also considering the other teams' depth at the position.
He opined that Chicago likely has "the most consistent" run game in the NFC North behind Jordan Howard and Jeremy Langford. In contrast, Holler said Detroit has struggled to find any consistency at the position and is returning the same committee it fielded in 2016. Green Bay currently has the receiver convert Ty Montgomery in addition to five rookies that have yet to be proven. Holler wrote:
Even with unprecedented roster turnover in the running back room over the last five months, the Vikings still have the most dangerous and versatile running game in the division. Jerick McKinnon, who was the primary starter two of the last three seasons, returns as the incumbent. [Murray] brings between-the-tackles toughness that is matched only by Howard among NFC North running backs. The wild card is rookie Dalvin Cook, who gives Minnesota arguably the best take-it-the-distance threat in the division.
[As] the dust has settled, it could be argued the Vikings still have the most talented group of running backs in the NFC North despite overhauling the position on the fly.
Jones executes Mother's Day surprise
A number of Vikings players took to social media Sunday to recognize loved ones on Mother's Day.
Defensive tackle Datone Jones celebrated the holiday by presenting his mother with a new house, and he shared a brief video on Twitter following the surprise.
Jones signed with the Vikings as a free agent in March after spending the first four seasons of his career with the rival Packers.