Ranking the Minnesota Vikings' Offensive Weapons
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is obviously the odds on favorite for the team's top offensive weapon. However, with the departure of go-to receiver Sidney Rice and the retirement of quarterback Brett Favre, who will fill the No. 2 and 3 spots as Minnesota's best offensive threats? A lot lies on whether six-time Pro-Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb can pull off a career reemergence or if Percy Harvin can sustain a migraine-free season.
No. 1: Adrian Peterson, Running Back
Guaranteed to rack up plenty of stats, running back Adrian Peterson is not only a fantasy favorite but is hands-down one of the best running backs in the NFL. Punishing opposing teams with his skills and elusiveness, Peterson is no question the Vikings' best offensive weapon.
Having seen control of the team shift over to the hands of veteran quarterback Brett Favre the past two years, Peterson will regain the reigns of the team this season, as offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave seems to be building the offense back around the dynamic back—and rightfully so.
No. 2: Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver
Percy Harvin has been nothing but an asset for the Minnesota Vikings—when on the field. Drafted as a first round pick by the Vikings in 2009, Harvin is a speedy playmaker who is small but dangerous.
However, migraines have plagued Harvin most of his life, and they began causing problems towards the end of 2009 carrying into 2010, resulting in the second-year wide receiver missing some critical games. Despite the absences, Harvin caught 71 passes for 868 yards with five touchdowns in his second NFL season.
Heading into this season as the Vikings top receiver and seemingly having the migraine problem under control, Harvin is due for a breakout year. With immensely increased responsibilities, Harvin has the potential to be be the x-factor for Minnesota.
No. 3: Donovan McNabb, Quarterback
The Vikings made the decision to sign veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb before training camp began, and this was likely a good decision. A six-time Pro Bowler, McNabb has had successful seasons, working at times with great options and at other times not-so-great ones.
McNabb couldn't have a better weapon than Adrian Peterson in the backfield to help take some of the pressure off of him. Forgetting his 2010 season with the Washington Redskins, McNabb ranks as one of the NFL's most consistent and dangerous quarterbacks for years in a row. Look for him to find his comfort zone with this squad and once again become a weapon.
No. 4: Visanthe Shiancoe, Tight End
Having missed the entire 2011 preseason with a hamstring injury, Visanthe Shiancoe claims to be ready to go for Week 1. He had a bit of a down year in 2010, but don't forget the 11 touchdown passes Shiancoe caught in 2009, establishing himself as a top tight end.
Tight ends play a huge part under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's new offense, and Shiancoe will be expected to contribute greatly as a receiving option for McNabb.
No. 5: Bernard Berrian, Wide Receiver
After being lost in the shuffle during the Favre era, Bernard Berrian will look to re-emerge this season as an offensive threat for the Minnesota Vikings. Despite having only 28 receptions and no touchdowns in 2010, Sidney Rice's departure offers Berrian another shot in the starting lineup.
Hopefully, Berrian's 2011 season can resemble that of his first season with the Vikings in 2008 when he hauled in seven touchdowns and accumulated 964 yards, averaging 20.1 yards per catch.
So far so good, as McNabb's one-and-only touchdown pass in the preseason was a 49-yard bomb to Berrian.
No. 6: Michael Jenkins, Wide Receiver
The Vikings' third threat at wide receiver is veteran Michael Jenkins, who the team acquired from the Atlanta Falcons. Jenkins not only has said he loves playing with Donovan McNabb, but he also has experience with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who formerly spent time in Atlanta.
At 6'4", Jenkins is a tall receiver who can go up and get balls and also has the ability to be a down-field threat. Wearing the familiar 84, Viking fans have high expectations.
No. 7: Toby Gerhart, Running Back
Following a stellar career at the University of Stanford, Toby Gerhart joined the Vikings in 2010 with high expectations after being selected in the second round. However, Gerhart entered the NFL to a rude awakening and a less-than-impressive rookie season—accumulating just 322 yards and one touchdown.
This season, though, Gerhart says he feels much more comfortable—and thankfully so, because Minnesota's gameplan involves running the ball to exhaustion and Gerhart will be relied on as a dependable backup to Adrian Peterson. Musgrave's plan to design plays that highlight Gerhart's abilities, partnered with his extra reps with the first team during training camp while Peterson was gone, can only help his cause.
No. 8: Kyle Rudolph, Tight End
As stated before, Bill Musgrave's offense is tight-end intensive and often times calls for a two-tight-end set. Therefore, second round draft pick rookie tight end, Kyle Rudolph, will be expected to contribute early and often.
Having missed his senior season of college at Notre Dame in 2010, Rudolph came into training camp with a little rust to shake off. However, by the time preseason was over, Rudolph seemed to have done just that. He tied the team high for preseason receptions with six, including a few impressive grabs.
Rudolph was known in college for his good speed, blocking ability and hands, and his versatility should allow him to develop into a nice weapon for the Vikings. Hopefully, he and Shiancoe will complement each other.