The Vikings defense ranked No. 1 in the league last season and will look to retain its dominance during the 2018 season.
Minnesota has proven stout at all three levels, which, according to NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks, is crucial to fielding a top defense. Recently, he wrote that "the presence of a dominant playmaker at each level remains a common denominator."
Brooks listed the NFL's top five "defensive triplets," and ranked the Vikings at No. 2 with DE Everson Griffen, LB Eric Kendricks and "S Harrison Smith (or CB Xavier Rhodes)."
Brooks credited Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Defensive Coordinator George Edwards for a defensive recipe that's "built on speed, grit and hustle."
Griffen embodies that philosophy as a disruptive pass rusher with cat-like quickness and a relentless spirit. He can turn speed into power in a heartbeat, yet displays enough finesse to keep offensive tackles on their heels. With 43.5 sacks over the past four seasons, Griffen's become one of the premier playmakers at the position.
Kendricks is a tackling machine in the middle of Minnesota's defense. He gobbles up runners between the tackles like a vacuum cleaner as an instinctive defender with outstanding diagnostic skills. Smith is a no-nonsense enforcer with a high football IQ and a nasty disposition. He is one of the few safeties capable of roaming the deep middle as a center fielder, while also doing work in the box as a designated run stopper. Rhodes could easily fill the DB slot as an ultra-competitive cover corner with size, length and speed.
Griffen, and Smith are entering their seventh NFL season together. Kendricks joined the defense in 2015 after the Vikings drafted him 45th overall.
The only trio that Brooks placed above the Vikings group was Jacksonville's Calais Campbell, Telvin Smith and Jalen Ramsey/A.J. Bouye.
Behind Minnesota on the list was Arizona's Chandler Jones, Deone Bucannon and Patrick Peterson; Baltimore's Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle; and Atlanta's Vic Beasley, Deion Jones and Keanu Neal.
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen grew up in Minnesota, and now the Detroit Lakes native is giving back to young people in his home state.
The All-Pro hosted his inaugural youth football camp at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center on Sunday. KVRR reporter Jeremy Klein covered the camp and wrote the following:
The camp included 1-on-1 football instruction and focused on character development, leadership and sportsmanship.
All funds and proceeds went to benefit the newly created Thielen Foundation, which aims to serve, educate and inspire at-risk youth so they can reach their full potential in life.
Klein quoted Thielen, who said the following at his camp:
"The biggest thing that I want to relay to them is that, no matter what you are doing, take advantage of that opportunity. Whether it is in school work, on the football field, basketball court, anything, or on the playground, just try to get better at something that you're doing every single day."