Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater will always be linked in Vikings lore to the 2014 NFL Draft when they were both selected in the first round.
The promising rookie seasons both turned in has helped propel a widespread-around-the-web belief that even brighter days await B&B and the Vikings.
The most recent display of good vibes — and another linking of the respective linebacker and quarterback — is their placement in Around The NFL's "Making the Leap" series on NFL.com. The series evaluates players that could have major breakthroughs in 2015, either a "player emerging from no-name status to a quality starter" or "an excellent player jumping to superstar status."
This week, Barr was placed at third, and Bridgewater as the second-most likely to make the leap in the 20-player countdown that opened with a Vikings receiver: Charles Johnson.
*Around The NFL's *Gregg Rosenthal handled the write-up of Barr and took note of the multitasking he was asked to do and delivered on in his first 12 games before suffering a knee injury.
"Consider that Barr has only been playing defense for three seasons after transitioning from running back and wide receiver at UCLA," Rosenthal said. "He's a player whose ceiling remains under construction, with the rare ability to win a game on a single play."
Barr posted 99 tackles (coaches' tally), 4.0 sacks, 13 quarterback hits, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries. The latter two stats received checkmarks when he forced, recovered and returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown to beat Tampa Bay in overtime.
Rosenthal compared Barr to New England linebacker Jamie Collins, who was near the top of the leap list in 2014.
"Barr blitzes up the middle well, rushes from the outside and provides solid pass coverage," Rosenthal wrote. "He runs down plays from the backside. He gives a defensive coordinator a ton of options and doesn't need to come off the field. Barr missed 10 snaps all season before hurting his knee in Week 13, and eight of those missed snaps came in his debut."
Click here for Rosenthal's full analysis of Barr.
Rosenthal's colleague, Kevin Patra, broke down Bridgewater, whom Patra said "put up the best season for a rookie quarterback since the 2012 class."
"After watching all of Teddy's tape from last season, there are a few traits that leap off the screen," Patra wrote. "First is his accuracy, especially on in-cutting and crossing routes. His ability to put a ball on a dime is an innate tool some quarterbacks with bigger arms can never attain. His touch is also evident on intermediate routes when he puts loft on the ball."
Pro Football Focus rated Bridgewater the top quarterback in accuracy percentage under pressure (75.2 percent), factoring in "dropped passes as completions, throwaways, spikes, batted passes" in 2014.
Patra noted multiple elements that could help Bridgewater in his second season.
"With Adrian Peterson returning to the backfield, no longer will Teddy face stacked secondaries unafraid of the play-action pass," Patra wrote. "With Mike Wallace on board, Bridgewater also has a bona fide deep threat to stretch the field — Teddy's deep ball is underrated and he displayed massive improvements in his accuracy on long throws as the season pressed on.
"With Norv Turner directing the show and an unflappable Bridgewater as the narrator, the Vikings offense should be exciting to watch in 2015," Patra added.
Click here for Patra's full take on Teddy 2.0.