The lull between the end of minicamp and the beginning of training camp seems to be the perfect time for pundits around the league to put out their rankings on the top players around the league.
The NFL Network will release its annual list beginning July 22, while Pete Prisco of CBS Sports unveiled his own ranking of the top 100 players earlier this week.
Prisco’s group included three Vikings in safety Harrison Smith, wide receiver Adam Thielen and defensive end Danielle Hunter.
Smith was Prisco’s highest player in Purple, as the four-time Pro Bowler came in at No. 44 on the list. Prisco wrote:
He is a rangy safety who is also good up near the line of scrimmage.
Thielen was ranked 84th overall by Prisco, who wrote:
He caught 113 passes with nine touchdowns in 2018. He continues to improve each season.
Thielen has averaged more than 100 receptions and 1,300 yards in each of the past two seasons, and he has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of them.
Hunter, whom Prisco had at No.95 on his list, produced a career year and made his first Pro Bowl in 2018.
He had 14.5 sacks for the Vikings last season, his second as a full-time starter. Scary thing: He's only 24.
The former third-round pick could theoretically be on this list for years to come, Hunter has 40.0 sacks in his first four seasons in the league.
Green Bay led the division with five players named on Prisco’s list.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (No. 3 overall) led the Packers list, while left tackle David Bakhtiari (No. 38), wide receiver Davante Adams (No. 57), nose tackle Kenny Clark (No. 60), and defensive end Mike Daniels (No. 87).
Prisco had four players from the Bears: outside linebacker Khalil Mack (No. 5), defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (No. 48), safety Eddie Jackson (No. 67) and cornerback Kyle Fuller (No. 69).
Detroit landed a pair of players on the list in defensive end Trey Flowers, an offseason free agent signing who has yet to play for Detroit but was No. 81 on the list, and defensive tackle Damon Harrison at No. 97.
NFL.com lists Harris as possible breakout star, Mattison as new face to know
NFL.com writer Adam Rank is going through the NFC North to give a ‘State of the Franchise’ report on each team.
Rank’s deep dive includes the highs and lows of 2018, a roadmap for 2019 success and a look a players that could play a key role in the coming years.
Rank dug into the Vikings earlier this week, where he projected that safety Anthony Harris could be a breakout star in the upcoming season.
He sort of broke out last year when he stepped in for Andrew Sendejo. Starting more than three games for the first time in his career, the former undrafted free agent led the team with three interceptions and was one of Pro Football Focus's highest-graded safeties. And now Sendejo is in Philly, while Harris is in a contract year. He certainly made an impression on me when he picked off Mitch Trubisky twice in the Vikings' Week 11 matchup with the Bears.
Harris joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2015 out of the University of Virginia. He has since worked his way into a starter, as he lined up next to Smith this spring in the secondary with the first-team defense.
The 28-year-old has made 17 starts in four seasons, collecting three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and forcing a fumble.
Rank also said a new face to keep an eye on is rookie running back Alexander Mattison, who is vying for playing time behind Dalvin Cook.
The Vikings already have a quality running back in Cook, but don't sleep on Mattison. The Vikings really like the third-round pick for his size and his ability to catch the football. And Cook, who has played in just 15 games in his two NFL seasons while notching as many games with less than 80 scrimmage yards as he has games with 100-plus scrimmage yards (six), needs to show that he can do it consistently.
Mattison was a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Boise State.
He became the first Boise State player to lead the conference in a season by totaling 1,415 rushing yards as a junior in 2018, and also added 17 rushing touchdowns.