NFL experts are predicting a bright future for the Vikings


After fighting their way to a 7-9 record in a season when they were missing their best player, the Minnesota Vikings look to many NFL experts like a team on the rise.

With young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looking ready to come into his own, the return of Adrian Peterson to the Vikings offense could mean big things for the future of the team.

ESPN Insider has ranked the Vikings seventh in their Future Power Rankings, which look at how a team is set up for the next three seasons.

That ranking was the second highest in the NFC North – only behind Green Bay, who was the top-ranked team in the poll. The other teams ahead of Minnesota are Seattle, New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Dallas.

The analysis, which was done by ESPN's NFL experts John Clayton, Louis Riddick and Mike Sando is highlighted by a league-best, 14-spot climb to 15th in quarterback outlook thanks to Bridgewater's strong rookie season.

It's one of several rankings that foresee a much improved Vikings team in 2015. Last month, Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King ranked the Vikings 6th in his offseason NFL Power rankings.

The biggest challenge facing the Vikings, according to ESPN, will be Mike Zimmer's ability to find a successful way to repair the relationship between Peterson and team management to the point where Peterson can again become an irreplaceable asset through the final three years of his contract.

If Peterson can regain that form, the report says, he will make things a lot easier for Bridgewater and some of his top targets including Kyle Rudolph and newly acquired receiver Mike Wallace.

Both Rudolph and Wallace come into the season with something to prove. Rudolph wants to prove that he can remain healthy for an entire year. He missed seven games last year with various injuries. Only once in his four-year career has Rudolph played an entire 16 game season.

While, Wallace was seen as disgruntled during his last two seasons in Minnesota, Norv Turner's offensive scheme seems to fit Wallace's talents well.

"Most definitely," Wallace told FOX Sports North. "The guys are real cool. The coaches, I love coach Zimmer. Fired up and everything, just like coach Norv, but a little different. My coach (wide receivers coach George Stewart), I think I have the greatest group of coaches on the team all together, just the people I have to be around is fun. They keep it exciting every day."

Last week ESPN's Ben Goessling said the Vikings offseason, which he graded as an A-, could have the team primed to jump back into contention for their first post-season since 2012.

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