The Vikings are on the cusp of the 2018 season, and it appears they have a roster that is primed and ready to make another deep postseason run.
ESPN recently released its ranking of the Top 100 players in the NFL, and seven Vikings made the list, which tied for the most from any team across the league.
Minnesota had four defensive and three offensive players included. The Vikings also had three players listed in the top 40. More than half (18) of the NFL's 32 teams had three or fewer players on the entire 100-player list.
Minnesota's trio of 2017 All-Pro defensive players were up first, led by safety Harrison Smith at No. 25.
ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin wrote:
Smith held quarterbacks to a 22.0 passer rating, allowed zero TD catches and came away with five interceptions and five pass breakups last season. He was the league's best safety. There's no reason to think he'll lose that distinction in 2018.
All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes was listed at No. 34, while defensive end Everson Griffen was ESPN's 39th-ranked player.
Rhodes were closed in 2017 as he shut down No. 1 receivers on a weekly basis. Quarterbacks have learned their lesson against targeting Rhodes, who allowed a 54.7 completion percentage and two touchdowns. His physicality in press coverage makes him a nightmare for opposing wideouts.
Coming off a career year in sacks (13), Griffen is the best pass-rusher on a star-studded Vikings defensive line. It took him only eight games to rack up 10 sacks last season. Entering Year 9, he is hitting his stride – and the QB.
All-Pro wide receiver Adam Thielen was up next at No. 71, followed by the 80th player on the list — Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was perhaps the splashiest free-agent signing across the league in 2018.
Thielen posted career highs in catches (91), targets (142) and yards (1,276) during his breakout 2017 season. Kirk Cousins loves spreading the ball around and going over the middle of the field, which fits Thielen's game.
The last time Cousins had a supporting cast this good, he threw for almost 5,000 yards and had his best NFL season. The difference this time? He's backed by the No. 1 defense. A career year is within reach for the $84 million quarterback.
Defensive end Danielle Hunter rounded out the Vikings defensive quartet at No. 91.
Hunter has 25.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown in three NFL seasons. Oh, and he's only 23. The sky's the limit for this young pass-rusher, who plays on one of the league's best defensive lines.
Minnesota's group was closed out by one of the team's most exciting young stars in running back Dalvin Cook, who was No. 95 on the list.
Cook's goal in his second season is simple: win Comeback Player of the Year. His rookie year was cut short by a knee injury. His 4.8 yards per rush and ability as a receiver making him a dynamic threat as an every-down back.
Minnesota's seven players led the NFC North and were tied with Philadelphia for the most of any team in the league. Green Bay and Detroit had three players apiece. No Bears players made the list.
Boone earns solid grade for preseason play
Mike Boone is in the mix to make the Vikings 53-man roster thanks to a strong preseason.
The rookie running back has impressed many around the organization, and even some outside of it.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com recently handed out grades to a player on each NFC team for the third preseason game, and he gave Boone a 'B' for a solid day's work.
The Vikings have discovered a nice combo back behind Dalvin Cook. Boone only tallied 39 scrimmage yards on 13 touches (nine rushes for 26 yards, four receptions for 13 yards), but he continued to exhibit the short-area explosiveness and wiggle that has made him a preseason MVP candidate. As the Vikings put together their depth chart and game plans with their best players in mind, they might want to script out some plays for No. 44, to take advantage of his versatility on the perimeter.
Boone has 34 carries for 139 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and a touchdown in the preseason. He also had eight catches for 35 yards.