One spot on the Vikings 2021 roster that won’t be slept on

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June 15, 2021; in Eagle, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​(8) hands the ball to returning Dalvin Cook (33) during exercises at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Power rankings at this time of year [or anytime] are not an edict, but they do give a reasonable picture of public opinion about each NFL team.

The people in the orbit of Minnesota Vikings are excited about 2021 after the 2020 season was a major disappointment. But several editions of power rankings suggest that the 2021 Vikings are tied to a mid-range team. The hissing and optimism for a bounceback seems exclusive to people who want the team to do it right.

So there is a “sleeping” atmosphere with regard to the Vikings. As their core group, Minnesota employs Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks, Brian O’Neill Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson – players widely hailed as smart football players. The conglomerate of those players must ensure a certain degree of success. However, for national spectators, the enthusiasm is muted.

Part of the team that is not slept further? offensive weapons. Across the board, the toolset for quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​— Cook, Jefferson and Thielen — is considered a robust bunch. Since 2018, Cousins ​​has been the player to pass the ball to Jefferson and Thielen, but Cousins ​​rarely gets credit for, well, anything. Ergo, the game makers are commended and all the earnings that cousins ​​earn are pushed back.

ESPN agrees on the “offensive arsenal” of the Vikings. Bill Barnwell ranked the NFL’s top arsenals, and the Vikings checked in as a Top 5 group, holding the #5 rung on the ladder behind the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans.

Here’s what Barnwell said about the Vikings:

“It’s hard to think of a trade that looks more like a win-win for both sides after one season than the trade Stefon Diggs sent to the Bills and allowed the Vikings to draft Justin Jefferson. All Jefferson did was produce one of the most impressive seasons by a rookie receiver in league history as he led all receivers in yards (1,330) and yards per target (11.0) after hitting all receivers in Week 3 got into the starting lineup. Adam Thielen’s volume suffered, with the veteran losing just over two goals per game from his 2018 peak, but he still scored a ho-hum 14 touchdowns. Right now, everyone’s aligned with Dalvin Cook: When the Vikings’ declining star is healthy, he’ll stand next to Derrick Henry as the most fearsome back in football. Relying on him to be healthy can be dangerous. He missed two games in 2019 and had to leave three more with a shoulder injury. Last season he was out in week 17 and missed a game and a half with a groin problem. Cook does more in 13 or 14 games than most full-backs in a full season, but if we see the 2017 second-round piece put together a full 17-game campaign, he would be a threat to hit 2,000 yards.

Jefferson flirted with Offensive Rookie of the Year ambitions and fell short of the others Justin of the Los Angeles Chargers, Justin Herbert. Minnesota took the mattress cover from Jefferson after Week 2, kicking off a record-breaking rookie season for Jefferson. Barring a second slump (those are pretty common actually — beware), Jefferson will aim to shatter his total receiving yards from last year of 1,400.

And then something interesting happened to Adam Thielen. In 2018 he had [what will probably turn out to be] his best NFL season when Cousins ​​stepped into Minneapolis. It was the season that Thielen defeated those early season Vikings and set yard records. He even tied the NFL record (Calvin Johnson) for most consecutive games with 100 or more receiving yard games (8).

Receiving recruits was his strongest point. Touchdowns were also there, but not in the same clip where he was collecting catches and yards. In the past two seasons, the arrangement has been reversed. Thielen did not crack 1,000 receiving yards in 2019 and 2020, but he has scored 20 touchdowns in the last 25 games. A blood-curdling pace, indeed.

Slowly but surely, Thielen scores touchdowns and leaves the mammoth yard totals to Jefferson (and Stefon Diggs before him).

Dalvin Cook needs little explanation. Per Pro Football FocusCook was the league’s third-best running back, trailing Derrick Henry and Damien Harris (did you laugh yet?). Only Derrick Henry is responsible for more yards of scrimmage than Cook has in the past two seasons. Cook is also second in touchdowns since 2019. The only player with more is – you guessed it – Derrick Henry.

The national pundit has been lagging in acknowledging the upgrades Vikings management has made on defense this off-season. The same crowd also sees the team as ho-hum. However, they do understand the zeal of Cook, Jefferson and Thielen.

The Houston Texans were chosen by Barnwell to represent the NFL’s worst offensive arsenal.

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