ESPN Insider just released their 2016 NFL Future Power Rankings, which is a mouthful, but is basically their list of the NFL franchises in the best shape for the next three seasons.
The Minnesota Vikings are listed at No. 8, ahead of the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens, but below the Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals and, ahem, the Green Bay Packers.
Louis Riddick, Mike Sando and Field Yates were asked to rate each team on a scale of 0-100 in five categories: roster (excluding quarterback), quarterback, draft, front office and coaching.
After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score — roster (30 percent), quarterback (20 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent).
Minnesota’s roster got an 81.0 rating, Zimmer and his staff received an 81.7 and the team’s drafting ability and front office got a 78.3, respectively. Quarterbacking, however, was a weak point at 65.0.
“It was a long time coming for Mike Zimmer to become an NFL head coach, but man, has he delivered in a hurry,” writes Yates. “He already has established himself as one of the best defensive minds in football and is a real asset for Minnesota.”
Riddick complimented Bridgewater, saying he needs more opportunities.
“The Vikings are a trendy pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season,” he writes. “I’m on the bandwagon so long as Teddy Bridgewater is given the opportunity to make more big plays in the passing game, and Teddy himself is willing to pull the trigger and execute.”
Sando offered Bridgewater a backhanded compliment as well, while saying that running back Adrian Peterson could be phased out in years to come.
“It’s unlikely running back Adrian Peterson will still be a dominant force — or even on the roster — three years from now,” he writes. “He will be 33 years old, after all. The Vikings presumably will have re-signed Bridgewater to an extension by then.”
For what it’s worth, in another ESPN Insider article, Vincent Verhei of Football Outsiders called Bridgewater the Vikings most underrated player.
“By Football Outsiders’ numbers, Teddy Bridgewater was not a top-20 passer last season,” he wrote, “but that’s not fair, because the quarterback spent too little time playing football and too much time running for his life.”[ESPN]