Last year, the Minnesota Vikings had three players expected to 'make the leap' to becoming NFL stars. While that worked out in varying degrees of success for Xavier Rhodes and Everson Griffen, it didn't work out quite so well for Cordarrelle Patterson.
Now, in advance of the 2015 season, another trio of Vikings could be slotted as players that make a leap.
So far, a pair of Vikings have been listed in the NFL's Top 20 Making the Leap Countdown.
Wide receiver Charles Johnson opened the list at No. 20. He emerged during the second half of 2014, leading the Vikings with 47 targets, 25 receptions and 415 receiving yards over the last seven weeks of the season and, as NFL.com notes, he made a dramatic impact on the Vikings offense.
"Originally a Packers seventh-round pick out of Grand Valley State in 2013, Johnson's injury history kept him from making a single game appearance before Week 1 of last season. Now penciled in as Minnesota's starting X-receiver, the pass-catcher finds himself in the same role that Josh Gordon played under Turner during his 1,646-yard outburst with the Browns in 2013.
Adding eight pounds of muscle this offseason, Johnson stands once inch shorter but a pound heavier than Gordon, with sub-4.40 speed that makes him a tenth of a second faster than the suspended Cleveland star. Johnson's combination of moves, hand strength and burst at the line were on display toasting former Packers cover man Tramon Williams."
In addition to Johnson, Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr slots in at No. 3 on the list.
NFL.com's Greg Rosenthal writes that Barr stood out, by blending in. In 12 games last year Barr recorded 70 tackles, 4 sacks and even returned a fumble for a game-winning touchdown at Tampa Bay.
"Sure there is a risk we're picking Barr a year too early. But he was already an above-average starter as a rookie when all signs (body type, inexperience at the position) pointed to a steep learning curve."
NFL.com hasn't announced either of the top two spots yet, and The Daily Norseman is quick to point out that a certain young Vikings quarterback hasn't been included on the list yet. Stay tuned for Teddy Bridgewater? Probably.