The stats website Pro Football Focus tracks every play throughout the NFL season and grades performances on a scale of positive and negative plays. Here are the most interesting grades (and position ranks around the NFL) handed out to Vikings by PFF:
T – TJ Clemmings – 28.2, last in the NFL among qualifying tackles
According to PFF’s Sam Monson, Clemmings’ grade is the fifth worst handed out in the history of the website. The Vikings’ commitment to Clemmings became more and more baffling as the season went on, especially after they signed Rashod Hill off the Jacksonville practice squad and didn’t play him until the final week of the year when Clemmings got hurt. Also, Alex Boone offered to move to tackle and was rejected, which, in hindsight, may have been a better choice than sticking with the status quo.
QB – Sam Bradford – 83.5, 11th in the NFL
Bradford broke the NFL’s completion percentage record, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he was ranked in the top half of the league. He was also one of the best in the NFL at throwing under pressure. Some of Bradford’s statistics are overshadowed by failures on third down, lack of aggressiveness and red zone struggles. Those things wouldn’t necessarily always be dinged in PFF’s grading system.
WRs – Stefon Diggs (82.6, 16th) and Adam Thielen (81.7, 19th)
The Vikings’ receiving tandem had a very solid year. At one point, Diggs was in the top 10 in receptions and Thielen became a solid all-around target for Sam Bradford. The Vikings may not have gotten much out of their first-round pick Laquon Treadwell, but they go into next season very confident in two of their weapons.
G – Alex Boone – 76.5, 36th
The offensive line received a ton of (justified) scrutiny this season but Boone had a solid season. In pass protection, he received a higher score than in run blocking, which makes sense considering the Vikings had the league’s lowest yards per carry and struggled to punch the ball in at the goal line repeatedly. But at least one of the O-line signings worked out alright for the Vikings.
CB – Terence Newman – 86.3, 9th
If Newman is planning on retiring, he’s going out after a strong season. His top 10 rating is boosted by the fact that Xavier Rhodes was often paired up against No. 1 receivers, but Newman was among the NFL’s best in Yards Per Attempt against and also scored high in run defense as well.
LB – Anthony Barr – 42.8, 82nd
Barr was one of the best linebackers in the NFL two years ago, but saw a massive drop in his grade this season. Was it an injury? Was it opponents figuring out and attacking his weaknesses? Was it scheme? The Vikings will have to spend time finding out why his play slumped and how to get it fixed.
DE – Danielle Hunter – 80.9, 28th
The Vikings’ second-year pass rusher finished third in the NFL in sacks. The amazing thing about that: He was a rotational player. Hunter was expected to play in pass-rush only situations, but developed into an all-around defensive end, who will likely be the full-time end next season.
DT – Shamar Stephen – 41.2, 109th
The former seventh-round pick is a good rotational player, but this season he was asked to play the full-time 3-technique role and struggled. An injury to Sharrif Floyd hurt the Vikings’ ability to stop the run. Tom Johnson filled in the pass-rush role well.
CB – Trae Waynes – 63.0, 85th
The former first-round pick rotated into the defensive backfield throughout the year and played a handful of games as a starter when Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman suffered injuries. Waynes made some progress throughout the year, but struggled to play the ball in the air at times. The Vikings will have to make a decision on whether Waynes is ready to take the next step and replace Newman next season.