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Lunchbreak: Frelund Projects Vikings to Have Top-10 Offense in 2022

The Vikings have made plenty of changes to the organization in recent months, as the organization is now led by a new general manager and head coach, as well as different faces on the coaching staff.

There are plenty of new players, too, but most of them reside on the defensive side of the ball.

Offensively, the Vikings return 10 of the 11 players who saw the most snaps in 2021, a group that includes Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

Cynthia Frelund, NFL Network's Analytics Expert, is bullish that the Vikings have plenty of firepower on that side of the ball, as she recently projected Minnesota to have a top-10 offense this fall.

Frelund explained how she compiled her list of 11 teams:

I wanted to explore the league's top offenses through the prism of projected win share.

Remember, win share measures each player, position group and side of the ball's ability to earn/prevent first downs, points and touchdowns. All rosters used to simulate the season in this exercise are the forecasted 53 through May 17.

With that in mind, Frelund slotted the Vikings in the 10th spot, just behind the Saints at No. 9.

Frelund wrote:

One of my favorite prognostications right now is that the Vikings are going to the playoffs. I think the last NFC Wild Card slot could come down to the Vikes and Saints, who play in London on Oct. 2. The fit of Kevin O'Connell's style with Minnesota's personnel will help mask an offensive line that allowed the second-highest pressure rate last season (33.6 percent, per Next Gen Stats).

O'Connell will also make good use of Kirk Cousins' best traits, starting with downfield passing. The Vikings QB had a 133.8 passer rating on throws of 10-plus air yards in 2021, the best by any qualified QB since 2016. His 138.6 passer rating on passes of 10-19 air yards was the best since 2019, and he even had the most passing TDs without an interception against the blitz in the NGS era with 16. None of this is all that surprising, given the weapons at Cousins' disposal.

Star wideout Justin Jefferson earned 1,255 receiving yards on targets of 10-plus air yards and 823 yards on targets of 10-19 air yards — both were, you guessed it, NGS single-season records. Adam Thielen owns a plus-25.7 catch rate over expected in the red area since 2018, which tops the NFL. Dalvin Cook averaged a robust 5.0 yards per rush on inside-the-tackles attempts last season.

Frelund's list of 11 teams consisted of six from the NFC and five from the AFC, although the latter conference held the top three spots with the Bills, Chargers and Bengals.

Minnesota was the final NFC team listed behind the Buccaneers, Rams, Packers, Cowboys and Saints.

Frelund's full rankings can be found here.

View photos from the Vikings third OTA practice, which took place on May 18 at the TCO Performance Center.

CBS Sports regrades 2019 NFL Draft

Believe it or not, the 2022 NFL Draft was already almost a month ago.

Time flies in the NFL, which means Pete Prisco of CBS Sports set out to re-evaluate how teams did from a few years ago from the 2019 NFL Draft.

Prisco recently regraded every team from his original mark, and the Vikings came in about the same.

Back in 2019, Prisco handed out a 'B+ grade' to the Vikings. Assessing the class now, he wrote:

The Vikings had 12 picks, with two projected as starters in 2022 (Irv Smith, Jr., and Garrett Bradbury). Smith is coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss the entire season. Sixth-round defensive tackle Armon Watts has a chance to start as well. The rest of the group are either gone or also backups, including running back Alexander Mattison, the backup to Dalvin Cook.

Prisco's new grade was slightly lower, as he gave the Vikings a 'B' for that draft class.

That new mark wasn't too bad, however, as it was tied for the third-highest grade among all teams during Prisco's re-assessment from 2019.