These three players stand out as ones whose performances will have a close correlation with the Vikings' results from a season and game-to-game standpoint. If these players perform well, it changes the dynamic of what the Vikings can be more than most players are able. If they don't play well, big problems could ensue.
After playing only 39.6 percent of defensive snaps a season ago, per Pro Fooball Focus (subscription required), Floyd is in line for a big bump in playing time.
He will also play at a lighter weight in 2014, which should make him a quicker and more powerful defensive tackle. Floyd impressed throughout the preseason with improved quickness and technique, so development is taking place.
Mike Zimmer developed Geno Atkins into the league's best 3-technique tackle in Cincinnati and could produce similar results with Floyd, though Floyd's playing style and size are different. He'll have the same role in Zimmer's defense and will be tasked with consistently producing disruption through the middle of opposing offensive lines.
Sheer snap counts are a big reason why Munnerlyn is an important player defensively. While he flips between outside alignments and the slot as defensive packages change, it's tough to see Zimmer and defensive coordinator George Edwards bringing him off the field very often.
Creating turnovers is the hallmark of Munnerlyn's skills. Minnesota's defense was near the bottom of the league in 2013 in takeaways per game and defensive interception percentage, per TeamRankings.com. The turnover differential is a decent predictor of outcomes, so the Vikings defense can improve itself quickly by creating turnovers. Part of the reason Captain Munnerlyn was brought to Minnesota was to do just that.
Impactful performance from Kyle Rudolph is the quickest way for the Vikings offense to take a step forward in 2014. The performance of Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson also appear to be more known quantities than Kyle Rudolph at this point in terms of production.
Under Norv Turner, a big jump is expected. Through players like Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron, Turner has historically produced tight ends with big numbers. Kyle Rudolph could be next in 2014.
The complication in this prediction is that Rudolph has never had more than 500 yards receiving in a single season. He could realistically make a jump to 700 or 800 yards in 2014 or could hover around the 400 or 500 mark. Where he ends up in terms of receptions, yards and especially touchdowns, as one of the Vikings few true red-zone threats, will make a difference in the efficiency of Minnesota's passing game.