Lunchbreak: Several Vikings Among Barnwell’s 2019 NFL MVP Candidates

The 100th NFL season kicks off in less than 100 days, and we are just over three months away from thrilling games and clutch performances around the league.

The season will end with multiple Most Valuable Player candidates and likely only one winner, but ESPN writer Bill Barnwell already has a list of players who are in the running to win the award.

Barnwell recently put out a whopping list of more than 200 players who could conceivably be the league’s MVP in 2019, and there were a few notable names for Vikings fans.

Barnwell wrote:

And when you start using history to plot out plausible MVP candidates in 2019, the list gets big. Quickly. By my count, there are 233 players who history suggests could have some semblance of a shot at winning NFL MVP in 2019.

Let’s run through those players and why the past suggests they have a shot at winning the biggest individual award in professional football this season, group by group.

Barnwell broke the players down by various groups, whether it was future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, kickers or star pass rushers.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins fell in the established quarterbacks section, and Barnwell believes the 30-year-old who is going into his eighth season is the best chance of a group that also features the likes of Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson.

Barnwell wrote:

If the Vikings offensive line is better after signing Josh Kline and drafting Garrett Bradbury, Cousins can add that to the league’s best wide receiver pairing and a running game that should be better with Gary Kubiak coming on board as an advisor. A great defense should ensure an impressive record if Cousins holds up his end of the bargain, too. If the Vikings go 13-3 and Cousins has a great season, he’ll be up there.

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was mentioned with the workhorse backs while Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs were included in the superstar wide receivers group. Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter were listed in the stud pass rushers section, while Dan Bailey was listed with every other NFL kicker.

View images from the Vikings OTA practice on June 3 at the TCO Performance Center.

5 former Vikings listed as finalists for College Football Hall of Fame

Well before players and coaches make their mark in the NFL, they often excel at the college level.

The College Football Hall of Fame announced its finalists for the 2020 class earlier this week, and a handful of players who were stars in college later had ties to the Vikings.

A quartet of former players and one former coach have connections to Minnesota, with the group headlined by guard Steve Hutchinson.

Linebacker E.J. Henderson, kicker Morten Andersen, defensive tackle Brad Culpepper and running backs coach Eric Bieniemy are also candidates to be among those inducted to the Hall of Fame.

The National Football Foundation included mini bios on each finalist for their accomplishments in college.

Hutchinson, who went to Michigan, went to four Pro Bowls in six seasons with the Vikings.

At Michigan, he was a unanimous First-Team All-American in 2000 and led the Wolverines to four bowl wins, including the 1997 National Championship at the Rose Bowl. He was one of only seven players in conference history to be named a four-time First-Team All-Big Ten selection, and he was a three-time Big Ten champion.

Henderson played all 125 games of his entire nine-season career in Purple.

At Maryland, he became the only two-time consensus First-Team All-American in Terps history. In 2002, he was the Bednarik and Butkus award winner who helped Maryland to an Orange Bowl berth and a No. 11 final ranking. In 2001, he was the ACC Player of the Year and two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year, leading Maryland to the 2001 ACC title.

Andersen, who went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, played one of his 25 seasons with the Vikings.

At Michigan State, he was a First-Team All-American who left MSU as the Big Ten’s all-time leader in field goals (45). He set a still-standing conference record with a 63-yard field goal in 1981 and was a three-time All-Big Ten performer, leading the Spartans in scoring for three seasons.

Culpepper played in 26 career games in Minnesota.

At Florida, he was a 1991 consensus First-Team All-American and recipient of the National Football Foundation’s Campbell Trophy as the nation’s top scholar-athlete. He was a two-time All-SEC selection who led the Gators to the first-ever SEC title in 1991.

Bieniemy was Minnesota’s running backs coach from 2006 through 2010.

At Colorado, he was a unanimous First-Team All-American and finished third in 1990 Heisman voting. He played in two National Championships, leading the Buffs to the 1990 national title. He was a two-time All-Big Eight selection, still holding eight CU records.

The class of 2020 will be announced in January, and they will be inducted in December of 2020 in New York.

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