On Feb. 17, former NFL scouts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah identified the Vikings as having one of the league's best "future rosters."
"I believe the Minnesota Vikings are positioned to be a team that's going to be a bully in the NFC for a long time," Brooks said on NFL Network. "When you look at the building blocks that they have in place, all that young and dynamic [talent], but you still have the veteran presence in Adrian Peterson."
Saturday, 1500ESPN.com's Andrew Krammer wrote about Brooks' evaluation and what the Vikings have coming down the pipeline.
The Vikings emerged quickly in an 11-win season capped with a NFC North title and a narrow first-round playoff exit. They started to realize some of the potential on a roster foundation laid with eight first-round picks in the last four years. Last offseason, they gained steam nationally as a potential breakout team. And now they were recently selected No. 1 overall in a draft of the NFL's 'best future rosters,' with former scout and NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks making the pick.
Krammer points out that five of the eight Vikings first-round picks since 2012 have been defensive players, and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has played a major role in developing those players and improving Minnesota's defense immensely over the past two seasons.
Before last season, the franchise hadn't seen a top-five scoring defense in 27 seasons. And of the projected defensive starters for 2016, which includes cornerback Trae Waynes, all but two players are 28 years old or younger. Three of those cornerstones — Anthony Barr, Linval Joseph and Harrison Smith — received All-Pro votes.
Offensively, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has strong belief inside team headquarters that he can be more than a 'game manager.' The emergence of receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Jerick McKinnon also give the Vikings some promise outside of Peterson, the league's reigning rushing champion.
Cordarrelle Patterson focused on offseason workouts
Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson spent the weekend in Duluth for the first Vikings-Polaris Winterfest. While there, Patterson told ESPN's Ben Goessling he was returning from three days in Orange County, California, during which he worked out with quarterbacks and receivers trainer Steve Calhoun.* *
*Patterson had "done my own thing" after that, he said Friday, but this year, he said, he knew he needed to reconnect with Calhoun to refine the route-running skills the Vikings have wanted him to improve. *
*"I reached out to him, told him I want to work with him, be better," Patterson said. "He told me to come out for three days. I did that, and I'll try to see how it goes." *
Goessling said, in addition to his work with Calhoun, Patterson is training with Frank Matrisciano again and with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
*[Patterson] plans to travel to South Florida in March to work with Bridgewater, which he didn't do last year. And at this point, Patterson admits he agrees with what Spielman is saying. *
"I've been feeling that way, man," he said. "I just approach this whole year way different than I've been doing. I'm a lot more focused, just trying to work on my craft -- route-running, getting in and out of breaks, just trying to get the timing good with Teddy."
Does Adrian Peterson have more 'elite football' left in him?
John Holler of Viking Update recently evaluated running back Adrian Peterson's 2015 season and posed a number of questions about what the NFL's leading rusher will bring to the table for Minnesota in 2016.
There is always discussion about the ability of running backs to perform at a high level after the age of 30. For most, 30 is a brick wall that is impacted with high speed and the results tend to be disastrous. It has happened so consistently that it has become "a thing." Only the elite can buck the trend. There's no questioning that Adrian Peterson is an elite back who still has a lot of good football left him.
But does he have a lot of elite football left in him?
Perhaps more telling is that the Minnesota Vikings win when Peterson is fed the ball. In the two years that Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner have been with the Vikings, the team has a record of 18-14 in the regular season. In the 17 games they had Peterson at their disposal, they've posted a record of 12-5. In the 15 games without Peterson, they are 6-9. It's hard to dispute those numbers.
Holler goes on to examine Peterson's stats even further, saying the Vikings are 12-1 in games in which Peterson gets at least 18 carries. In games where Peterson has rushed the ball fewer than 16 times, Minnesota is 0-4. His impact is undeniable.
Towards the second half of the season, Holler points out that Peterson's production lessened.
*Through the first nine games of the season, Peterson was well on his way to winning the rushing title. He had 195 carries for 961 yards and five touchdowns. He was averaging 22 carries for 107 yards and 4.9 yards per carry. The Vikings were 7-2 in those games. *
*In the final seven games, Peterson had 134 carries, 524 yards and six touchdowns. That worked out to an average of 19 carries for 75 yards and 3.9 yards per rush. *
Ultimately, Holler concludes that Peterson's future stats are unpredictable at best.
As the Vikings are sizing up players at the [the NFL Scouting Combine] they likely will be giving running backs a harder look this year than they ever have because we may have seen the best of Peterson. He's still the pre-eminent running back in the league, but those big plays that we've witnessed for nine years are coming fewer and farther between.