Dalvin Cook reminded Vikings fans and media members alike that he's "still the same guy" that they saw rack up more than 300 yards rushing before suffering a torn ACL in Week 4 season.
The rookie earned lots of attention before being sidelined for the remainder of the season, and all eyes are on the running back as he prepares to return in 2018. Dan Hanzus of NFL.com recently predicted an MVP for each team, and he tabbed Cook for Minnesota. Hanzus wrote:
In a parallel universe, Cook's knee doesn't blow out last October, and he and Alvin Kamara are battling for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors down the stretch. It didn't work out that way, of course, but Cook was on pace for Kamara-like greatness before disaster struck. All reports are overwhelmingly positive about Cook's rehab, and he enters 2018 as the clear No. 1 option in the backfield for a Vikings team that will rely plenty on the ground game, even after paying Kirk Cousins funny money to be the "final piece" on offense. This nug from The Big Fish, Evan Silva: Cook was on pace for a whopping 340 touches before his ACL injury, a figure that would've put him in the top five among all tailbacks. That still feels possible, even with [Kirk] Cousins' arrival.
Who did Hanzus highlight from the Vikings division rivals?
Quarterbacks took the cake in Detroit and Green Bay, with Hanzus pointing to Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers, but he didn't select QB Mitch Trubisky in Chicago. Rather, Hanzus predicted 'clear-cut No. 1 receiver' Allen Robinson, whom the Bears signed in free agency.
*This is a time of optimism around the Bears, who might actually be – gasp! – fun to watch this season. Much of that has to do with an emerging young core on offense shepherded by first-year coach Matt Nagy, fresh off a stint building the Chiefs into a powerful attack under Andy Reid. […] Robinson is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver and – assuming his recovery from knee surgery goes according to plan – will be a focal point in an offense that will feature plenty of downfield passing. *
The Vikings will first face the Bears on Nov. 18 when they travel to Soldier Field.
Smith unveiled on Pro Football Focus 'Top 50' List
While NFL Network has been posting its Top 100 list from the 2017 season, analytics site Pro Football Focus has unveiled its list of the "best 50 players in the game as we head into the 2018 season."
The players were selected by the PFF team and informed by "grading, statistics and schematic context."
Vikings All-Pro safety Harrison Smith came in at No. 15 overall. PFF's Sam Monson wrote:
In 2017, Smith didn't just post the highest grade of any safety in the game (97.0), he posted the highest single-season grade we have ever seen from a player at that position since PFF has been grading every snap of every NFL game (2006). Smith graded well in all facets of the game and has a complete skill set that allows the Vikings defense to play any scheme they want on a play-by-play basis, knowing that they have the shape-shifting keystone on which to build the rest of the defense.
Smith was the second-highest-ranked NFC North player on PFF's list, behind Rodgers at No. 10.
Join Brian Robison's fishing tournament this weekend
Are you a Vikings fan who enjoys fishing for a good cause?
Brian Robison's "Reel 'Em In" Fishing Tournament is taking place in Wabasha, Minnesota, this weekend, and he posted on social media Sunday evening that spots remain for the open tournament.
Check out Robison's foundation website to learn more about its mission and details for the upcoming event.