The Minnesota Vikings landed five players in this year’s NFL top 100 list. The list, as voted on by NFL players, has become annual tradition as we wind down toward the start of a new NFL season. So, with those five players in mind, were they overrated, underrated, or right on?
Eric Kendricks, linebacker, 83rd
Kendricks, who was arguably the NFL’s best coverage linebacker last season, was the first Viking announced on this list. In a year where Kendricks collected 110 tackles, 12 passes defended, and his first all-pro and pro bowl appearances, he also made his first NFL top 100.
|100||Lavonte David||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|88||Jaylon Smith||Dallas Cowboys|
|83||Eric Kendricks||Minnesota Vikings|
|70||Fred Warner||San Francisco 49ers|
|67||Demario Davis||New Orleans Saints|
|63||Preston Smith||Green Bay Packers|
|50||Darius Leonard||Indianapolis Colts|
|48||Za’Darius Smith||Green Bay Packers|
|41||Jadeveon Clowney||Free Agent|
|32||Shaquil Barrett||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|26||Von Miller||Denver Broncos|
|25||T.J. Watt||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|19||Khalil Mack||Chicago Bears|
|15||Chandler Jones||Arizona Cardinals|
|13||Bobby Wagner||Seattle Seahawks|
This is how all “linebackers” ranked on the list. I use quotation marks because it’s marking Clowney, Miller, Mack, and Watt all as linebackers when really they are edge rushers first and foremost.
That actually cuts at the heart of why Kendricks is low on this list. He only collected half a sack last season. So despite his excellent pass coverage and his great number of tackles, he’s going to rate low because he doesn’t collect sacks.
So, I think Kendricks is underrated here. The effect he had on every single one of the Vikings games last season cannot be denied. He’s not a real household name with fans and players tend to vote on popularity, whether they admit it or not. Give him a year or two of solid play, and he should creep up the list to the mid-50’s where I really felt he should have been this season.
Harrison Smith, Safety, 64th
Smith is kind of the anti-Kendricks on this list. He’s been on the list for five straight years, making it as high as 46th overall. Last season, Smith collected three interceptions, 11 passes defended, and 85 total tackles. Certainly solid numbers, but do they warrant his position on the list?
|97||Budda Baker||Arizona Cardinals|
|75||Earl Thomas||Baltimore Ravens|
|64||Harrison Smith||Minnesota Vikings|
|39||Tyrann Mathieu||Kansas City Chiefs|
|35||Minkah Fitzpatrick||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|27||Jamal Adams||Seattle Seahawks|
So, Smith is in the bottom half of the top 100 and starts the second-tier of safeties on the list. I think this is a fair ranking for him. He wasn’t bad by any means, but he’s lost a bit of juice on the field.
Now, I’m not saying he’s going away anytime soon, he’s still one of the NFL’s best. However, I think in years past 64th would have been disrespectful to a guy who absolutely dominated and made the Vikings one of the NFL’s best secondaries. Now, I still think he plays that role, but with Anthony Harris next to him, he doesn’t need to be as dominant. That’s going to translate to less highlight tape and more wins.
Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, 58th
Captain Kirk was at it again last season, putting up numbers and winning some premier games. Cousins put up 3603 passing yards, 26 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions, and completed 69.1% of his passes. Most importantly, he won the Vikings a playoff game and made strides towards removing his “wilts under pressure” tag as he outplayed the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
|87||Josh Allen||Buffalo Bills|
|68||Ryan Tannehill||Tennessee Titans|
|58||Kirk Cousins||Minnesota Vikings|
|46||Dak Prescott||Dallas Cowboys|
|43||Jimmy Garoppolo||San Francisco 49ers|
|20||Deshaun Watson||Houston Texans|
|16||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers|
|14||Tom Brady||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|12||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints|
|4||Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City Chiefs|
|2||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks|
|1||Lamar Jackson||Baltimore Ravens|
This is where the player voting really fails. Kirk Cousins outplayed Rodgers, Brees, and Brady last season. All three of those guys are physically not what they have been, but they get their position because of what they have done in the past.
Other than that, and Jimmy Garoppolo confusingly being as high as he is, Cousins isn’t in a bad place in relation to the other quarterbacks. I would say he should be higher, probably in the late 30’s-early 40’s. So, he’s slightly underrated and a lot of quarterbacks are WAY overrated.
Danielle Hunter, Defensive End, 40th
Hunter is just quietly having one of the best statistical careers ever. In 2019, Hunter collected 14.5 sacks and made a huge impact in the run game too collecting 70 total tackles. He also crossed the 50 sack mark as the youngest player to do so ever.
|95||Frank Clark||Kansas City Chiefs|
|80||Myles Garrett||Cleveland Browns|
|79||Calais Campbell||Baltimore Ravens|
|71||Jurrell Casey||Denver Broncos|
|52||Chris Jones||Kansas City Chiefs|
|45||J.J. Watt||Houston Texans|
|40||Danielle Hunter||Minnesota Vikings|
|34||Joey Bosa||Los Angeles Chargers|
|23||Cameron Jordan||New Orleans Saints|
|17||Nick Bosa||San Francisco 49ers|
|3||Aaron Donald||Los Angeles Rams|
This is the one that really floors me. Jordan and Donald, okay, fine, those guys are dominant. The Bosa brothers, incredibly overrated. Nick Bosa collected 9 sacks last season as a rookie, and only 47 total tackles. Yet, he is 23 spots above Hunter, a guy who has been dominating the last two seasons.
That’s the same Bosa who was handled well by Brian O’Neill and took a cheap shot at him in the NFC divisional round because of it. His brother was also handled by Brian O’Neill when the Vikings played the Chargers.
Hunter deserves to be up in the same position as Jordan and Donald at the very least. He’s a top 25, if not 15 player in the NFL.
Dalvin Cook, Running Back, 21st
Cook is the highest ranked Viking on this list. While I think that when healthy he is the Vikings best offensive player, this high ranking is a bit suspect. In 2019, he put up 1135 rushing yards, 519 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns.
|96||Chris Carson||Seattle Seahawks|
|72||Josh Jacobs||Oakland Raiders|
|51||Todd Gurley||Atlanta Falcons|
|44||Mark Ingram||Baltimore Ravens|
|42||Alvin Kamara||New Orleans Saints|
|36||Nick Chubb||Cleveland Browns|
|33||Aaron Jones||Green Bay Packers|
|31||Saquon Barkley||New York Giants|
|24||Ezekiel Elliot||Dallas Cowboys|
|21||Dalvin Cook||Minnesota Vikings|
|10||Derrick Henry||Tennessee Titans|
|6||Christian McCaffrey||Carolina Panthers|
Relative to other running backs, Cook is in a good position. We can argue whether Henry, a two down back, is better than Cook, but in general I agree with this list in a vacuum. However, relative to the rest of the NFL and the way the game is played, Cook and Henry are slightly overrated. McCaffrey isn’t overrated because he’s not really a running back. He’s a receiver who plays in the backfield.