By Brad Berreman @bradberreman24 on April 4, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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