EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Although organized team activities are well underway, the focus is slowly shifting toward the 2016 regular season.
That means the release of *Sports Illustrated's *offseason power rankings, which were conjured up by Chris Burke.
Burke tabbed the Vikings at No. 6 in his rankings. Minnesota was the third-highest-ranked team from the NFC.
Burke mentioned a pair of rookies and a deep offensive line unit as keys to the Vikings offseason.
The 22 teams picking in front of Minnesota this year may rue the day they let WR Laquon Treadwell slip to a charging contender. The same goes for Mackensie Alexander in Round 2. If the O-line holds up in front of Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings could be visiting Houston in February.
Vikings earn a 'B' in ESPN's offseason report card
The Vikings also earned praise quartet of ESPN analysts who handed out offseason grades to each NFL team.
ESPN Insider analysts Bill Polian, Louis Riddick, Mark Dominik and Field Yates teamed up to give the Vikings a 'B.'
The group thinks the Vikings are an "ascending team carrying out a fundamentally sound plan."
Here's what the analysts had to say about Minnesota in a compilation by Mike Sando:
*Dominik applauded the Vikings' decision to select Laquon Treadwell in the first round, calling it one of his favorite selections for any team. He said it would allow the Vikings to find out "whether quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can throw 25-30 touchdown passes in a season, or is he not that guy?" *
Polian said he had zero concerns over Bridgewater, noting that the Vikings' young quarterback led his offense down the field with the season on the line in brutal weather conditions against Seattle in the playoffs. But there was still a sense among others that Minnesota had reached the point in its roster building where Bridgewater would either hold back the Vikings or take them further.
"I thought they needed more speed at receiver, but I get why they took Treadwell," Riddick said. "There are legitimate concerns with Mackensie Alexander, so Mike Zimmer has to work his magic to see if this kid can become more physical and have more production on the football. I like the toughness Alex Boone brings to the offensive line. I love the defense, which has playmakers at all three levels. Overall, this is a team that — if Teddy can take the next step — is a legit NFC contender."
The Vikings have gone from [5-10-1] to 7-9 to 11-5 over the past three seasons, joining the Falcons as the only teams to increase their regular-season win totals every year over that span.
"We talk about trajectory and where a team is on the arc, and to me, Minnesota is clearly on the upswing," Yates said. "They have an offensive line that is going to be really good. They have a great running back. It was a no-brainer to take the receiver in the first round. They added more speed at linebacker with Emmanuel Lamur. The secondary has a lot of bodies, so Trae Waynes has competition for playing time. Minnesota should repeat its success from last year."
Each of the four NFC North teams received a 'B' from the analysts.