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NFL Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings’ Five Biggest Breakout Candidates for 2014

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Minnesota Vikings: Five Breakout Candidates for 2014

Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings
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After a dismal 2013 season that led to the firing of Leslie Frazier, the Minnesota Vikings enter a new era with Mike Zimmer as head coach.

Here are five Vikings I think are ready to have a breakout season in 2014.

5. CB Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes Minnesota Vikings
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5. CB Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes Minnesota Vikings
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Rhodes battled injuries a bit as a rookie last season, but he showed solid improvement as the season went on before missing the final three games with an ankle injury. If the Vikings’ pass defense is to improve after last season’s debacle, Rhodes’ ability to neutralize the opposing team’s best wide receiver will be crucial.

4. DT Sharrif Floyd

Sharrif Floyd
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4. DT Sharrif Floyd

Sharrif Floyd Minnesota Vikings
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Floyd was the first of Minnesota’s three first-round picks in 2013, and he had 2.5 sacks in a minimal role as a rookie. But he is now in line to start next season, even with the faint possibility Kevin Williams is re-signed, and a higher snap count puts him in line for a breakout season.

3. WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

3. WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Patterson finished strongly as a rookie last season, with five total touchdowns over the final four games, which made the limited role he had early in the season look even worse. An argument can be made for Patterson to be higher on this list, particularly with Norv Turner now in place as offensive coordinator for the Vikings, but here he is at No. 3…

2. DE Everson Griffen

Everson Griffen
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

2. DE Everson Griffen

Everson Griffen Minnesota Vikings
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With Jared Allen gone, Griffen now has a starting job and a salary befitting that role. If the Vikings’ defense improves substantially in 2014, his emergence will be a key reason why.

1. TE Kyle Rudolph

Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings
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1. TE Kyle Rudolph

Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings
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Rudolph played just eight games last season due to a broken left foot, and his best game (nine receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown) came in Matt Cassel’s second start of the season against the Carolina Panthers. The likelihood of a full season with Cassel under center, coupled with the history of tight ends being very productive in Norv Turner’s offense, puts Rudolph at the top of this list.