As many teams, including the Vikings, have wrapped up Organized Team Activity practices and are heading into the next phase of the offseason, media members are making early assessments of rosters around the league.
Most recently, NFL.com writer Marc Sessler wrote an article that projects a player from each NFC team that will receive his first career Pro Bowl nod. For the Vikings, he predicted wide receiver Stefon Diggs to be voted into the all-star game. Sessler wrote:
Diggs finished last season with 903 yards off 84 grabs despite suffering a Week 4 groin injury that held him back the entire way. Considering that he piled up 372 yards over those first four tilts, it's tantalizing to imagine what a fully healthy Diggs could have pulled off […] Along with Diggs, [defensive end] Danielle Hunter is a strong bet to earn Pro Bowl honors if he continues to shine on defense.
And for Minnesota's NFC North rivals? Sessler opined that Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry, Lions cornerback Darius Slay and Bears center Cody Whitehair could all make their first Pro Bowl appearances.
Vikings College Scouting Coordinator Kelly Kleine featured on Sporting News
It's not only Vikings players that are being recognized by the media as of late.
On Tuesday, *Sporting News *columnist Alex Marvez highlighted Kelly Kleine, whom the Vikings recently promoted from college scouting assistant to college scouting coordinator. He said that the move made Kleine "one of the most preeminent members of the 14 women who work for NFL teams in football operations." Marvez wrote:
Sporting News has learned that Kleine was promoted earlier this week from her role as a college scouting assistant. Based on how much Vikings [General Manager] Rick Spielman has asked Kleine to handle, the bump was well earned.
"She does about 1,000 different things to say the least," Spielman told Marvez in a phone interview. "She basically has her hands in all day-to-day operations on the personnel side."
Marvez said that Kleine's accomplishments stand out in a "predominantly male profession."
Her advancement in five years with the Vikings — she began with an internship in public relations before transitioning to one in scouting prior to the 2013 draft — is especially impressive considering Kleine had never played or coached football previously.
Spielman said that was never a detriment.
"The biggest thing when you're trying to bring anyone up through an organization is to educate and train them," Spielman told Marvez. "One thing we always try to identify are self-starters who have the work ethic and attention to detail where you can trust them to carry out whatever assignment is given them."
Added Spielman: "In our eyes, it's not about being a man or woman or what religion or race you are. It's who is the most qualified regardless."
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes had a number of highlight performances last season – including returning an interception 100 yards for a touchdown – that earned him his first career trip to the Pro Bowl.
One of his most impressive games was arguably in Week 4, when the Vikings hosted the Giants.
According to Pro Football Focus, Rhodes restricted Giants receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. better than any other cornerback during the 2016 season. In that game, Beckham was targeted seven times and made just three catches for a total of 23 yards. Not only did Rhodes keep Beckham out of the end zone, but he also nabbed one of his career-high five interceptions that night.