Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan (65) gets ready to snap the ball in the game with the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Vikings win 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Top 25 Vikings of 2014: No. 4 C John Sullivan

The countdown rolls on with #4…

C John Sullivan

Mick Tingelhoff. Kirk Lowdermilk. Jeff Christy. Matt Birk. John Sullivan.

Not many franchises can boast that kind of depth at their all-time center position. The Vikings have been inordinately blessed in that regard, no doubt about it.

Going into his sixth season as the Vikings’ starting center, John Sullivan can claim to be a legitimate heir to the tradition established by those four other men.

There were plenty of skeptics in the beginning. People who questioned the Vikings’ decision to move on from Matt Birk and install the untested sixth round pick out of Notre Dame.

Sullivan would have his early struggles. For a time in 2009 and 2010, it seemed perhaps the Vikings did make a mistake not trying to replace Birk with more of a proven player.

But there was gradual improvement, and in 2012 it all came together for Sullivan. His blocking for Adrian Peterson helped AD to one of the great statistical seasons in NFL history. For Sullivan, recognition followed from performance.

2013 may have been a slightly down year for Sullivan compared to his near-dominating peak in 2012, but even in a relatively less-effective year, Sullivan was still one of the NFL’s best interior linemen and an anchor of one of the league’s best O-line units.

Sullivan has grown since his shaky start in the Brett Favre years into a respected team leader and annual Pro Bowl candidate. We look forward to him carrying on the Vikings’ great center tradition for many years to come.

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