A Football Outsiders post on ESPN.com caught our attention this afternoon. Using a number of criteria, they attempted to rank the NFL teams from 1-32 when it comes to the best accumulation of talented players less than 25 years old.
Now, having that many good, young players doesn’t necessarily translate to success, but Seattle was No. 1 on the list last year and won the Super Bowl; crazily enough, the Seahawks sunk to the bottom of the list this year because many of those top young players are a year older and no longer qualify. That is an indicator of just how arbitrary the 25-year-old cutoff is, but it also stands to reason that teams with talent that fall below that age threshold will be in good shape salary-wise and therefore be able to compete.
In any event, the Rams were No. 1. The Bills were No. 2.
And No. 3 — perhaps not surprisingly since they’ve had seven first-round picks in the past three years, but still interestingly enough — were the Vikings. Here’s what FBO had to say about your purple:
The Vikings are the only team to have three U25 players honored with an All-Pro or Pro Bowl selection. However, one of those is kicker Blair Walsh, and while he’s very good, he is still just a kicker. Cordarrelle Patterson was honored for his work as a kick returner last season, leading the league with two touchdowns and in average return (32.4 yards). Big things will be expected this year from Patterson as a No. 2 wide receiver behind Greg Jennings. Tight end Kyle Rudolph made the Pro Bowl in 2012 with nine touchdowns, and Jarius Wright makes it three primary pass-catchers under the age of 25 for this Minnesota offense.
We might be ranking the Vikings at the top if they were committed to immediately starting rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who may prove to be the steal of the draft.
Defensive guru Mike Zimmer gets his first crack at a head coaching job, and he has high-caliber talent to work with after the last two drafts have netted cornerback Xavier Rhodes, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and rookie linebacker Anthony Barr, all in the first round.
Indeed, it will be interesting to see how this mass of talent pans out and how the new coaching staff will influence it. But having the potential to have so many contributors at young ages and relatively low salaries could give the Vikings a chance to compete sooner than some of us might think.