With Vikings organized team activity practices slated to begin next week, Minnesota will take the next step of trying to improve in 2016 and defend its NFC North title.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt took a look at his six most improved teams this offseason and said the Vikings offseason moves have made them a better team. He ranked the Vikings as the fifth-most-improved team via free agency and the draft.
The Vikings needed offensive help and got it this offseason. Free-agent additions Alex Boone and Andre Smith will bolster an offensive line that should also welcome back fully healthy editions of John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt (who both missed all of 2015 with injuries). That unit will be directed this season by Tony Sparano, who is a good coach. First-round pick Laquon Treadwell, meanwhile, looks like the chain-moving No. 1 receiver the Vikes have lacked these past few seasons. Put a No. 88 on his back and you'd think he's Michael Irvin. He's also a blocker like Irvin was, meaning he'll make the passing and running game better. He's exactly what the doctor ordered for coordinator Norv Turner.
I liked Minnesota's draft haul, including cornerback Mackensie Alexander. I also like undrafted free agent Brandon Ross, who has a chance to be a really good running back down the road. Mike Zimmer is a special coach, and there is terrific cohesion in this organization, from the owners to the front office to the coaches. This was a good offseason for a team that I expect will repeat as NFC North champs.
Minnesota fans will recognize most of the other teams on the list, especially this upcoming season.
The Vikings have Houston (No. 6), Arizona (No.4), Tennessee (No. 2) and Jacksonville (No. 1) on their schedule for their 2016 season.
Kendricks Named to Jones-Drew's Top 100 List
A pair of Vikings cracked NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2016" on Wednesday night as safety Harrison Smith was voted in at No. 73 and defensive tackle Linval Joseph was listed at No. 76.
While that's the official list, analysts on NFL.com are compiling their own lists on who they think the top 100 players are.
Former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew released his list of players 71-80 and included Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks at No. 78.
Jones-Drew's blurb about Kendricks mentioned him with the No. 72 player on the list, Green Bay linebacker Julius Peppers.
Eric Kendricks and Julius Peppers are at opposite ends of their respective careers, but the two NFC North linebackers have one thing in common: They dominate their opponents. In Kendricks' rookie season with Minnesota, he led the team in tackles.
A rookie last season, Kendricks paced the Vikings with 105 total tackles and added 4.0 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. He was a second-round pick out of UCLA, the same alma mater as Jones-Drew, in 2015.