The regular season is nearly here.
Some teams, such as the Minnesota Vikings, will face a division opponent to start the year (Green Bay on Sept. 11).
Jared Dubin of CBS Sports recently unveiled his preseason All-Division team for the NFC North, and several Vikings players made the list.
For offensive skill positions, Dalvin Cook was selected at running back while Green Bay's Aaron Jones was placed in the flex position. Dubin wrote:
_Choosing between Cook, Jones, AJ Dillon (Green Bay), and D'Andre Swift (Detroit) was difficult. In the end, we went with the pair of players who have already proven themselves to be top-flight, all-around backs. _
At wide receiver, both Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen were chosen along with Detroit's Amon-Ra St. Brown. Dubin wrote that both Jefferson and Thielen will be key contributors for the Vikings offense.
Jefferson is already among the small handful of best receivers in the NFL, and he should only get better as the Vikings move to a more pass-friendly offense. Thielen remains an underrated contributor.
At quarterback, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers was selected while Detroit's T.J. Hockenson was put in the tight end spot.
No Minnesota offensive linemen were selected. Green Bay's David Bakhtiari and Jon Runyan and Detroit's Penei Sewell, Jonah Jackson and Frank Ragnow rounded out the list on offense.
On defense, Dalvin Tomlinson was chosen as an interior defensive lineman while Eric Kendricks was selected at linebacker. Dubin wrote Kendricks should be able to make the transition under Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell's new scheme.
Green Bay's Kenny Clark and De'Vondre Campbell joined Tomlinson and Kendricks at interior D-line and linebacker, respectively. The Packers' Rashan Gary and Chicago's Robert Quinn were picked at edge rusher.
Dubin added that Danielle Hunter could have been chosen at the second edge position but is coming back after missing the entire 2020 season and all but seven games of 2021.
In the secondary, Dubin placed Harrison Smith at the flex position, noting Smith is "still an excellent safety both inside and outside the box."
At cornerback, Green Bay's Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes were chosen, as well as Chicago's Jaylon Johnson. The Packers' Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage were put at the safety spot.
Finally, among specialist positions, Vikings kicker Greg Joseph and return man Kene Nwangwu were selected. Detroit's Jack Fox was selected at punter.
Pro Football Focus Takes Stock of NFL Rosters
While moves are still being made, NFL rosters are starting to take their shape going into the season.
Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus recently looked at the updated rosters for all 32 NFL teams, identifying the strengths, weaknesses and X-factors for teams' starting lineups.
Linsey placed the Vikings at No. 17 on his list, behind the Dallas Cowboys and ahead of the Washington Commanders.
Linsey said a "strength" for Minnesota will be the receiving duo of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Linsey wrote:
When both are healthy,Jeffersonand Thielenmake up one of the better receiving tandems in the league. The only player with more red zone touchdown receptions than Thielen over the past five seasons (33) is [Green Bay's]Davante Adams,and Jefferson has quickly become one of the league's top receiving threats in all situations.
Jefferson's ability to beat press is particularly impressive, as his 3.3 yards per route run against press coverage ranks second among all qualifying wide receivers since 2020.
Linsey wrote a potential "weakness" for the Vikings is their offensive line, but added offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw, guard Ezra Cleveland and center Garrett Bradbury can take a step forward this season.
An "X-factor" Linsey noted was outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith. Linsey wrote:
A healthy __Smith __profiles as a very nice addition at the edge defender slot oppositeDanielle Hunter.Across his first two seasons in Green Bay, Smith recorded 144 total pressures (fourth in the NFL) with PFF pass-rushing grades above 85.0 in both seasons