by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
The Minnesota Vikings have had a rough past five seasons following their loss in the 2010 NFL Championship. The Vikings did make the playoffs once but finished below .500 in the other four seasons with win totals as low as three. A lot of the Vikings’ issues have been at the quarterback position following the retirement of Brett Favre, but things may be beginning to turn around. The Vikings have stockpiled a lot of young talent in the past few drafts with an enormous amount of picks including seven 1st round picks in the last three years. The influx of young talent makes the Vikings a potential force in the future.
The Vikings also seem to have finally found their quarterback for the future in Teddy Bridgewater from the 2014 draft. Bridgewater had a fantastic rookie season and was a selection on the All-Rookie team. After having a big question mark at the quarterback position for the past few years, the Vikings seem to have found the answer. Bridgewater will try to continue his success as the starter in 2015. Minnesota has also drafted some Pro Bowl talent recently with the selections of Kyle Rudolph, Matt Kalil, and Blair Walsh. All of these players have been solid contributors in every year with the team. However, all three were Pro Bowlers in 2012; so the Vikings will be looking for them to get back to that form in 2015.
The Vikings have a number of other players projected to start in 2015 that have been drafted recently. Everson Griffen, Brandon Fusco, Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson, Robert Blanton, Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr have all been drafted in the past five years and are projected to start in 2015. Barr was actually the 1st pick the Vikings made in the 2014 draft and just like Bridgewater he had a great year himself. There are also a number of players from recent drafts who will contribute to the team as reserves. There is an incredible amount of young talent that are likely to make a big impact in 2015 making them a potential wild card team this season.
The Vikings have also made some draft mistakes in the past few years and none of them bigger than Christian Ponder. Ponder was picked to be the franchise quarterback for the future when drafted 12th overall in 2011. He got plenty of chances to prove his worth but never lived up to his draft selection. The Vikings gave up on him and chose not to extend his contract following the 2014 season. Ponder is in Oakland for 2015. Another 1st rounder who has struggled but still has time to turn it around is Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson was picked in 2013 and had a solid rookie campaign making the Pro Bowl as a returner. However, he struggled in his second year and was relegated to the bench. He is projected as a reserve wide receiver for 2015 but will likely make a contribution on offense. Patterson will need to step up whenever he gets his chance to avoid going down as a bust. One of the stranger misses was 2011 4th rounder Christian Ballard. Ballard was a contributor on the defensive line for his first two seasons before deciding to quit the team right before his 3rd season. Ballard never returned to football and stays retired to this day.