The Vikings defensive line and linebackers make up the front seven of Minnesota's defense. They work together to stop the run and get after the quarterback.
Minnesota's front seven was recently recognized by Pro Football Focus, who graded the Vikings as having the sixth-best group in the NFL.
The website wrote:
It's amazing that the Vikings are among the top 10 on this list with Sharrif Floyd playing only 25 snaps all season long and Anthony Barr disappearing for long stretches of play. Helping quell those losses, though, were the performances of second-year players Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks. Hunter was 15th among edge players in pass-rushing productivity, while Kendricks was seventh among inside linebackers in run-stop percentage.
Pro Football Focus rated defensive tackle Linval Joseph as the highest-graded player with an 83.3. Joseph, who is headed to the Pro Bowl for the first time, became just the fifth Vikings defensive tackle to record 100 total tackles and 4.0 sacks.
Fellow linemen Everson Griffen, Hunter and Brian Robison also played well as the trio combined for 28.0 sacks and 36 tackles for loss.
Kendricks also had a big season, leading the Vikings with 126 total tackles (according to the coaches' tally) while also recording 2.5 sacks and 11 passes defensed and 10 tackles for loss.
Rhodes tabbed as defensive MVP of NFC North
Xavier Rhodes had the best season of his career on the way to his first Pro Bowl nod in 2016, hauling in a team-high five interceptions and finishing second with 14 passes defensed.
The Vikings cornerback received another accolade this week when he was tabbed as the defensive MVP of the NFC North.
The honor is voted on by four ESPN.com beat writers in the NFC North. A pair of writers thought Rhodes was deserving of the award.
Ben Goessling, who covers the Vikings, wrote:
He took a major step forward as a shutdown corner this year, muting the impact of players like Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins when he shadowed them all over the field. Rhodes "couldn't catch a cold" his first three years, as linebacker Anthony Barr joked, but his ball skills improved markedly, and he finished with five interceptions, including a 100-yard return for a pivotal touchdown against Arizona. He's going to the Pro Bowl for good reason.
Lions writer Michael Rothstein added:
Rhodes was one of the best corners in the NFL this season, picking off five passes and defending four more. He wasn't at a Richard Sherman level of opponents avoiding him, but he was a key piece of Minnesota's defense being the best in the division. He led the division in interceptions, earned his first Pro Bowl invite and in-season helped slow down Beckham.
Rhodes also had 54 total tackles and had two tackles for loss.
Griffen received one vote for MVP honors. Griffen recorded 61 total tackles with 8.0 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.