Harrison Smith (Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY)
The Vikings aren’t the defending division champs, but they dominated NFL.com’s NFC North All-Pro team with nine of the 22 selections. It’s further indication that the roster of talent is improving.
One man’s opinion is one man’s opinion. But when his employer is the National Football League, that opinion is a very big rock thrown into a still lake – the concentric circles go out quite a distance.
NFL.com’s Dave Dameshek has spent his summer picking All-Pro teams for each of the NFL’s eight divisions. According the Dameshek, the Vikings are the clear-cut favorite to win the NFC North – at least in terms of frontline players.
In naming his Division-By-Division All-Pro Teams, nine Vikings made the 22-man roster of the NFC North squad. The Bears had five and the Packers and Lions had four each.
While making 11-man rosters on both sides of the ball, the formula was to have a three-receiver, one-tight end set on offense. Try disputing Aaron Rodgers as the QB. The same goes for Adrian Peterson as the only running back. It’s not even close. Just as easy was the selection of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall. They’re the reason the Vikings drafted Xavier Rhodes. But the third receiver was Greg Jennings, who has brought his talents to the south metro area of the Twin Cities. Jordy Nelson and Alshon Jeffery aficionados might bark at the selection, but it was done by a third-party medalist. Who are we to complain?
A year ago, Kyle Rudolph likely would have been third on the list of NFC North tight ends, but given the sketchy track records of Jermichael Finley and Brandon Pettigrew, that pick made itself.
Matt Kalil was named one of the two offensive tackles. Chicago spendy free agent import Jermon Bushrod bought his way into the other tackle spot, but it can only be assumed he’s on the right side of the NFC North offense. John Sullivan is no surprise at center. But at guard, Brandon Fusco’s inclusion on the list is something of a surprise. It may be more a testament to the competition as the “All-Pro” aspect of the list.
Jared Allen was named one of the defensive ends along with Julius Peppers. Who plays over Kalil is up to you. At defensive tackle, whether you like his style or not, NFC North bouncer Ndamukong Suh muscled his way on the team. It can be argued how dominant Henry Melton is, but it must have been determined the Vikings had enough guys on the team, so there wasn’t room for Kevin Williams.
As for the linebackers in the 4-3 NFC North defense, there’s no arguing Clay Matthews and Chad Greenway, and Stephen Tulloch’s inclusion at middle linebacker is a lifetime achievement award, since he’s the only returner of the group other than A.J. Hawk. Enough said.
At cornerback, Charles Tillman and Sam Shields got the nod, but Viking Harrison Smith joined free agent import Glover Quin as the safeties.
It would seem the Vikings are head and shoulders better than the rest of the division in terms of position-by-position dominance. For the record, the other seven divisional leaders are New England, Pittsburgh, Houston, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco, with the Falcons and Buccaneers tying with seven in the NFC South. Make what you will of that collection of teams that have positional dominance, but one thing is hard to ignore: the Vikings have what outside observers – not area homers – think possess the most difference-makers in the NFC North.
If nothing else, it sounds promising.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.