If the foundation of a successful franchise in the NFL is built through the NFL Draft, then Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and his team of scouts are doing a pretty good job.
ESPN Insider ranked every team in the NFL based on how much talent, aged 25-and-under, they have. The Vikings ranked high on the list, coming in at No. 4 overall. The only teams listed above the Vikings are the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams.
The Packers came in at No. 9, the Lions 20th and the Bears 31st.
The criteria for the rankings was established like so:
"That's what we're attempting to do with these rankings of all 32 teams based on their 25-and-under talent. Here's how we looked at it: If you were to take over one team in the NFL to run for the next 10 years based on the young players in its organization, which would you pick? We took into account positional value, durability and contract status. Also, the rankings were a bit of a balancing act, because we don't want to punish the Packers too much for not having a franchise quarterback who is 25 years old when they have the league's best QB who is in the prime of his career."
The five young Vikings picked were:
- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, 22-years-old
- Anthony Barr, OLB, 22-years-old
- Harrison Smith, S, 25-years-old
- Sharrif Floyd, DT, 23-years-old
- Kyle Rudolph, TE, 25-years-old
ESPN also noted that Matt Kalil, Jarius Wright, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Scott Crichton, David Yankey and Jerick McKinnon also have tremendous upside as 25-and-younger players.
1500 ESPN points out that another youngster, right guard Brandon Fusco, is a "budding star" who was left off the list because he's 26.
But just because the Vikings have a stable full of young talent doesn't mean they're anywhere close to contending for a Super Bowl. ESPN conducted a "Missing Pieces Project" and noted that Minnesota is 10 above-average players from becoming a true contender. In other words, the study claims that there are 22 teams in better condition to contend now than the Vikings. Here's how the report broke down Minnesota's roster.