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Lunchbreak: Vikings Rise in Latest Power Rankings

The last time Dan Hanzus of released his league-wide power rankings, it was just two days after Super Bowl LV.

The NFL landscape looks much different than it did then, including in Minnesota where the Vikings have been hard at work trying to erase the disappointment of a 7-9 season in 2020.

Hanzus unveiled his post-free agency power rankings Tuesday and slotted the Vikings at No. 17, a three-spot jump from where he had them in early February.

Hanzus wrote that he's intrigued to see what cornerback Patrick Peterson brings to Minnesota after spending the first 10 seasons of his career with Arizona.

He wrote:

The signing of Patrick Peterson brings much needed veteran presence to a green secondary that was exposed consistently in 2020. The question is how much Peterson has left in the tank as he enters his 11th season. The three-time All-Pro didn't look like the same player in his final year with the Cardinals, racking up 10 penalties, tied for second-most in the NFL, while struggling in coverage. Peterson, 30, can be an asset, but the days of leaving him on an island against the opponent's No. 1 receiver appear to be over.

The Vikings added Peterson last week to help bring a veteran mindset to a cornerbacks group that includes youngsters Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler and Mike Hughes.

View photos of CB Patrick Peterson signing his contract and going on a tour of TCO Performance Center.

Peterson, an eight-time Pro Bowler, has 28 career interceptions since 2011, which is tied with new teammate Harrison Smith for the third-most among active players during that span.

Minnesota also added defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson to help shore up a run defense that ranked 27th with 134.4 rushing yards allowed per game. Minnesota was also 24th with 19 total rushing scores given up.

Offensively, the Vikings brought back tackle Rashod Hill and Chad Beebe.

Hill has appeared in 59 regular-season games with 17 starts in the past five seasons. He has grown into a solid player in the swing tackle role since arriving in 2016 off Jacksonville's practice squad, but could be in line for a larger role depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out for the Vikings.

Beebe's return adds extra depth to the Vikings wide receivers and also gives the team versatile options on special teams. The former undrafted free agent stayed healthy in 2020, playing in 14 games and recording 20 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He could also be in the mix as a punt returner in 2020. He has 16 punt returns for 88 yards (5.5 yards per return) over the past two seasons, with a long of 15 yards that occurred in 2020.

Minnesota was the eighth-highest ranked NFC team, and the second-highest squad in the NFC North.

The Packers landed at the No. 3 spot, while the Bears (No. 23) and Lions (No. 31) were further down Hanzus' list.

Kapadia: Blythe could be good fit for Vikings in free agency

The Vikings have mostly focused on their defense in the first wave of free agency, as Minnesota has revamped that side of the ball with the additions of Peterson and Tomlinson.

And as the second week of free agency begins, some believe the Vikings could soon turn their attention to the offense.

Sheil Kapadia of the The Athletic recently listed a current free agent that would be a good fit for every NFL team, and noted that offensive lineman Austin Blythe could be an asset in Minnesota if he joins the team.

Kapadia wrote:

It feels like Vikings fans have been clamoring for offensive line help for the better part of the last century. Blythe won't solve all of Minnesota's problems, but he was a 16-game starter for the Rams in 2020 and has 49 starts in five seasons.

Blythe played center last season but has previous experience at guard. And he has missed just one game over the last four seasons. Blythe might not have a high ceiling, but he could offer competence and versatility at a low cost for the Vikings.

Blythe was a seventh-round pick by the Colts in 2016, playing eight games (with one start) as a rookie. He then joined the Rams and started 48 games with Los Angeles, including 47 over the past three seasons.

He started at right guard in 2018 and 2019 before starting all 16 games at center this past season.

The Vikings already have a starting center in Garrett Bradbury but could be looking for a right guard, depending on what happens this offseason. Ezra Cleveland started nine games at right guard as a rookie, but he could potentially move to left tackle (the position he played in college) after the Vikings released Riley Reiff earlier this month.