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ESPN’s ‘Future Power Rankings’ suggest Vikings’ trajectory is unclear

Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes an interception to the Indianapolis Colts but also gets roughed and keeps the ball on a play in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Colts win 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Summer is the perfect time for NFL fans and media to assess where each team is headed and attempt to project the future. An analysis by ESPN’s Field Yates, Louis Riddick and Mike Sando looking toward the next three years paints the Minnesota Vikings as a team whose future is difficult to predict.

The three analysts graded teams based on five categories in order to determine the club’s outlook.

Here’s how the Vikings finished:

As you can see, the Vikings ranked mid-pack in nearly every category, with the lowest score coming at quarterback.

“The uncertainty surrounding the quarterback spot drags them down in these rankings,” Yates wrote.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the teams with the most positive futures also have top-notch quarterbacks. The top five is made up of Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger.

It isn’t likely the Vikings can put themselves in the same company as teams with future Hall of Fame QBs, but almost any other outcome at the position is possible.

Heading into 2017, it appears that even GM Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer are unclear on whether Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater or Quarterback X will be starting on opening day 2018. Bradford’s contract is up after this season and the former Ram and Eagle said recently that he’s not aware of talks about an extension. Meanwhile, Bridgewater has been making progress in his recovery from a catastrophic knee injury last August, but there’s no telling whether he will be ready to play this season.

The Vikings have gone all-in to give Bradford a better offensive line and running game and took a risk on Michael Floyd to find their QB a deep-threat receiver. By the end of 2017, the Vikings are hoping to have a much better idea of whether Bradford is a bottom-third quarterback, as his ranking suggests, or if he’s good enough to make Minnesota a contender year after year.

At the conclusion of the year, the front office should also know whether Bridgewater can return under center. His status will likely play a big role in whether the Vikings give Bradford a long-term deal.

The roster is too young and talented to see a slide to the bottom of the league anytime soon – though there are still question marks on offense and defense. Will Xavier Rhodes sign an extension? Will Anthony Barr bounce back in 2017? Is Dalvin Cook the next elite all-around running back?

With so many aspects of the quarterback conversation up in the air, it’s very hard to predict whether the Vikings will return to the top of the NFC North as they were in 2015 or remain stuck in the middle.


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