ESPN/PFF Breakdown Finds Vikings Are a Long Way from Contending


How close is your team to contending for a Super Bowl? That’s what ESPN and PFF wanted to find out. The two sports juggernauts joined forces for an exhaustive piece examining the roster of each non-Super Bowl team to determine how many pieces each must add in order to realistically have a shot at glory.

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This may come as a shock to some of you but the study determined that the Vikings are a long way from contending. The ESPN/PFF team concluded that Minnesota must add at least ten above-average players before they can start thinking Super Bowl.

This begs the logical question: what makes an “above-average” player. That’s where the PFF grading system comes in…and that’s where things get really subjective.

According to PFF, the Vikings currently have only four players that qualify as above-average. Two players – Harrison Smith and Sharrif Floyd – are “elite,” and two more – Everson Griffen and Robert Blanton – are “good.”

Most of the Vikings’ roster falls into the average category. Five Vikings – Brian Robison, Matt Asiata, Chad Greenway, Corey Wootton and Matt Kalil – rate as “bad” according to PFF.

Right away one is tempted to disagree with the findings of this article. Robert Blanton rates as above-average but Xavier Rhodes does not? ESPN’s Ben Goessling disagrees with the Blanton rating right inside the piece, noting that Blanton actually got benched at one point in favor of Andrew Sendejo (who himself was promptly benched after blowing a coverage).

How much credence you give this study depends on how much faith you have in the PFF methodology. I won’t disagree with the overall conclusion that the Vikings must add talent. It should be remembered that the Vikings have a young team and some of these “above-average” pieces they’re lacking could already be on the roster, waiting to emerge.

We should also remember that in football not all positions are created equal. If Teddy Bridgewater should suddenly make the leap from “average” to “elite” – and he did perform at a near-elite level late in the season – that counts for more than an offensive guard or a linebacker making the same leap.

Some will no doubt take this article’s conclusion as proof that the Vikings need to go on an off-season free agent shopping spree, but I disagree with that. Even if the Vikes managed to somehow clear enough cap space to go on a spree, their roster is not in such bad shape that they need to start targeting expensive free agents. One or two prudent mid-level free agent signings plus a good draft will be enough to take them the next step.

In the end, this article only re-states with some extra elaboration what we already knew: the Vikings are headed in the right direction but Rick Spielman still has some work to do. Stop the presses.