PFF Offers Up a 22-Man Starter Prediction for The Vikings
PFF is one of the preeminent spots for offseason content. Recently, they released an NFL-wide prediction for the 22 starters (11 on offense, 11 on defense) for every team. The Vikings, of course, are included in the starter prediction fun, so let’s see what the analytics site has to say.
On offense, there aren’t too many surprises. Kirk Cousins is under center and Dalvin Cook will be running the ball. The top three wideouts are Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn. The top tight end is Irv Smith Jr. No arguments so far; all of this ought to be obvious.
Where there may be some debate rests along the offensive line. Ed Ingram is slotted into the starting RG spot, an assumption that is far from a certainty. In college, Ingram played LG, and asking a rookie to flip sides isn’t automatic. Plus, Minnesota will also be looking to Jesse Davis, Chris Reed, and Wyatt Davis to show they’re capable of taking over at RG. My money is on Reed, the veteran iOL who performed admirably for the Colts last season.
The Vikings defense similarly involves a mostly uncontroversial starter prediction.
Up front, the Vikings will go with Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter along the edge. Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips will be the two interior linemen. The only thing I’ll add is that when they aren’t in nickel, Minnesota will likely have Armon Watts as the other starting iDL.
Jordan Hicks and Eric Kendricks are the starting two MLBs (with Brian Asamoah competing for the MLB3 spot).
The disagreement will rest in the secondary. The starting three corners are listed as Patrick Peterson, Andrew Booth Jr., and Chandon Sullivan. It’s entirely possible that this is how things shake out, but one wonders about Cameron Dantzler. PFF, in fairness, does identify corner as the “most interesting position battle:”
Patrick Peterson is no longer the shutdown cornerback he was for much of his career with the Cardinals, but he also wasn’t a liability last season in Minnesota. He allowed just 37 completions into his coverage with a 61.0 PFF coverage grade. He returns as the No. 1 option. Booth and Cameron Dantzler will be competing for the starting job opposite him.
Chandon Sullivan is coming off a career-low 55.0 PFF grade last season with the Packers, but he doesn’t have much competition for the starting nickel job.
It’s Sullivan’s lackluster 2021 season that has me wondering if we’ll see Booth get into the slot. One might also see the Vikings start three safeties rather than three corners. Forced to guess, I’d lean toward Smith-Cine-Bynum over Peterson-Booth-Sullivan.