Minnesota Vikings: Sports Illustrated’s Top NFL Players has Four Vikes

Aug 29, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) in game action against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Minnesota won 28-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 29, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) in game action against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Minnesota won 28-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

As we are a day away from the Minnesota Vikings first preseason game of the 2016-17 season, Sports Illustrated has released their top 100 rankings of NFL Players.

Tomorrow is the kickoff of the Minnesota Vikings preseason. The hype is real and the team seems ready to make another push for greatness this season.

After surprising most last season, the Minnesota Vikings are starting to get the recognition that they deserve from the national media. The Vikings roster is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.

This morning, Sports Illustrated released their top 100 rankings of current NFL players that they have compiled over the last month or so. Their list included four Minnesota Vikings players.

Here is the Minnesota Vikings rankings and their analysis of those players.

More from Sporting Sota

"79. Linval Joseph, DT, VikingsIf you want a good example of why Joseph is such a major factor in the Vikings’ defense, watch his performance against the Rams in Week 9 of last season. Not only was he a constant thorn in Todd Gurley’s side, he also proved his speed when he crossed half the field to take the speedy Tavon Austin down on an off-tackle run. The only thing that’s keeping Joseph from being ranked higher is the fact that he missed four games with turf toe, but his dominance when healthy is something to see. Joseph isn’t a sack artist, per se – he has just 12.5 in his six seasons-but he brings a lot of pressure with his strength and quickness. Moreover, he’s one of the league’s best run defenders, and when Mike Zimmer sets him up angled towards the center in a Stunt 4-3 look, he’s just about guaranteed to blow through protection and create tackles for loss. Joseph is a rising name on what might be the NFL’s next great defense.39. Anthony Barr, LB, VikingsMoments after the Vikings picked Barr No. 9 overall in 2014, I wrote, “In the perfect scenario, Barr develops into a three-down player that has as much sideline-to-sideline ability as any linebacker in the league.” Turns out the Vikings knew what they were doing with that pick, because that’s more or less exactly what has gone down. In just two years time, Barr has emerged as an irreplaceable cornerstone in Mike Zimmer’s defense. As was the case when he was racking up 23.5 sacks over the 2012 and ’13 seasons for UCLA, Barr can be disruptive as a blitzer (3.5 sacks and 12 hurries last season). But he is far, far more than a one-trick pony – Pro Football Focus graded him out as the NFL’s top pass-rushing 4-3 linebacker, the third-best in coverage and above average against the run. His development has been swift and impressive.30. Adrian Peterson, RB, VikingsThere was bound to be a little rust for Peterson at the start of 2015, at age 30 and coming off a near season-long suspension. He limped his way into the year with a 10-carry, 31-yard Week 1 showing at San Francisco. After that? Peterson averaged just shy of 100 yards per game as he claimed his third rushing title – his 1,485 yards topped Doug Martin’s total by 83. Granted, it took Peterson an extra 39 carries to get there, but his ability to handle that heavy a load is a significant part of his appeal, too. When he plays a full 16 games, Peterson is a virtual lock for 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns. While fumbles have become an increasingly pressing issue, the rest of Peterson’s game remains on point.22. Harrison Smith, S, VikingsIf there is a defender whose role and value match that of Earl Thomas’s, Smith might be closest. The Notre Dame product signed a five-year contract extension worth upwards of $10 million per year this off-season, and he deserves every penny of it. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer asks the world of Smith, in all facets – Smith notched 66 tackles, two picks and 1.5 sacks in 13 games last season. The Vikings love to blitz, especially through the A-gap and doing so requires the utmost confidence in Smith to plug any resulting holes along the second and third levels. Smith is only getting better, too, which means he could surpass Thomas (if he hasn’t already) as the defender 31 other teams wish they had."

These rankings seemed legitimate, although I would have ranked Linval Joseph a little higher. Nose tackles do not get the same love that other positions do, which is probably the reason he was lower than other Vikings like Barr and Smith.

Earlier this offseason, Barr was quoted saying Joseph is the best player on the Minnesota Vikings team. Eating up blocks opens up lanes for Barr to rush the quarterback.

Next: Vikings Rank 22nd in NFL Fanbase Rankings

It looks like the Minnesota Vikings are starting to receive the recognition that they deserve. Last season Joseph, Barr, and Smith had nagging injuries and the Vikings were still able to put together an amazing season. Hopefully all of these guys can stay healthy this season and we can see their real potential.