Top 10 Minnesota Vikings Players To Watch In 2014 Season

Top 10 Minnesota Vikings Players To Watch In 2014 Season

Shariff Floyd, Cordarrelle Patterson, Xavier Rhodes
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Practice officially begins at Minnesota Vikings training camp today, and in just a couple weeks it will be time for the NFL preseason. Many are already counting the Vikings out this season, but if a few young players step up, anything could happen.

Here are 10 Vikings players who fans should keep an eye on during the 2014 NFL season.

Honorable Mention: QB Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater 2014 NFL Draft
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Honorable Mention: QB Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater 2014 NFL Draft
Getty Images

If Bridgewater were locked in as the Vikings starting quarterback, he would rank No. 1 on this list. However, with Matt Cassel being the favorite to start the season as the Vikings No. 1 quarterback, Bridgewater may have to take a backseat for a while. When he does play, sooner or later, keep an eye on this impressive rookie.

10. WR Greg Jennings

Greg Jennings Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

10. WR Greg Jennings

Greg Jennings Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Jennings had a down season in 2013, likely as a result of all the quarterback issues in Minnesota. He should have a much better season in 2014 with Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator. Jennings will need to have a better year this season, as 2014 essentially is a contract year for him with no guaranteed money left on his current deal following this season.

9. RB Jerick McKinnon

Jerick McKinnon Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

9. RB Jerick McKinnon

Jerick McKinnon Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

It takes a lot to impress Adrian Peterson, but that is exactly what McKinnon has done in just a short few months with the Vikings. The rookie running back is extremely versatile and should add an exciting element to a new-look Vikings offense. It remains to be seen how he will be used, but McKinnon could have a Cordarrelle Patterson-like impact in his rookie season with the Vikings.

8. DT Sharrif Floyd

Sharrif Floyd Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

8. DT Sharrif Floyd

Sharrif Floyd Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

After an underwhelming rookie season, many have taken the stance that there was a reason that Floyd dropped so far in the 2013 draft. With Kevin Williams gone, Floyd will have to step up in 2014. He will play an important role determining the success of a rebuilt Vikings defensive line.

7. FS Harrison Smith

Harrison Smith Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

7. FS Harrison Smith

Harrison Smith Minnesota Vikings
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Before sustaining an injury last season, Smith was arguably the best player on a weak 2013 Vikings defense. Smith is fully recovered from injury and should return to his pre-injury form immediately. With new had coach Mike Zimmer at the defensive helm, 2014 may be a breakout season for the former Notre Dame star.

6. DE Everson Griffen

Everson Griffen Minnesota Vikings
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

6. DE Everson Griffen

Everson Griffen Minnesota Vikings
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings allowed Jared Allen to walk this offseason, paving the way for Griffen to assume a starting role. Griffen received a monster contract this offseason and will need to fulfill it if the Vikings are to have defensive success. He has been impressive when on the field over the past few seasons and, like Smith, could be in store for a breakout year.

5. LB Anthony Barr

Anthony Barr Minnesota Vikings
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5. LB Anthony Barr

Anthony Barr Minnesota Vikings
Getty Images

Barr has the physical frame, athletic ability and skill set to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL. He was drafted into a perfect situation with head coach Mike Zimmer being an elite defensive mind who regularly gets the most out of his players. It remains to be seen how Barr will be used in his rookie year, but a 10-sack season may be within reach.

4. CB Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

4. CB Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings made Rhodes the No. 25 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, hoping that he would become an elite cornerback to help shut down the freakishly athletic receivers inhabiting the NFC North. Rhodes is a strong candidate to take a leap forward this season and will need to if the Vikings defense is to become a strength once again.

3. TE Kyle Rudolph

Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

3. TE Kyle Rudolph

Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The stage is set for Rudolph to have a career-defining year in 2014. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner has had a lot of success working with tight ends. Rudolph is entering a contract season and most importantly, the Vikings' quarterback situation is far more stable this season. Expect Rudolph to break out in a big way this year, setting new career highs in just about every receiving category.

2. RB Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings
Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports

2. RB Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings
Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports

When is Peterson not a player to watch? He is the best running back in the NFL and is only two years removed from a 2,000-yard rushing season. Peterson should be in store for a big year, assuming Norv Turner can fix the Vikings passing game. Also, watch for Peterson to catch quite a few more passes out of the backfield, as Turner often uses his running backs in such a way.

1. WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

1. WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

There were few playmakers more dominant than Patterson over the course of the final five weeks of the 2013 NFL season. Patterson can make plays as a receiver, rusher or kick returner, making him one of the best playmakers in the entire NFL. He is set to assume a much larger offensive role this season and, like many players on this list, is a candidate to have a monster year. 2014 may be the season Patterson defines himself as an elite NFL player.

Robert Reidell is a Minnesota Vikings Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+


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