MLB.com used the All-Star Break to figure out the best four players for every franchise by using the #FranchiseFour hashtag. It was a trendy topic on Twitter on Friday with fanbases from other sports chiming in with their own spinoff on the hashtag.
It got us thinking which four players would Vikings fans pick in their “Franchise Four” selections as the best players in franchise history. Here are some of the best responses, and best trolls, from the Twitter survey:
@MasterStrib Favre, Moss, Page, Eller.
— Tweets by Collin™ (@hummelcreative) July 17, 2015
@MasterStrib Randle,Moss,Page and AP with hoping Teddy Bridgewater in about 10 yrs
— Mike Selzo (@mike_selzo) July 17, 2015
@MasterStrib Page, Tarkenton, Moss, McDaniel.
— Big Smitty (@darbywisdom) July 17, 2015
@MasterStrib Favre Tarkenton White Eller
— Ken Bailey (@lkrfn) July 17, 2015
@MasterStrib Page, Moss, Tarkenton and Foreman. AP could supplant Foreman soon, tough call there. @georgecdeer thoughts?
— Josh Deer (@DeerJT) July 17, 2015
@MasterStrib Page, McDaniel, Moss, Peterson (only because Bud Grant isn’t an option)
— The Daily Norseman (@DailyNorseman) July 17, 2015
@MasterStrib no love for Cris Carter? Carter, Fran, AP, and McDaniel
— Slade Bivins (@SladeBivins) July 17, 2015
@MasterStrib Alan Page, John Randle, Randy Moss, Cris Carter (Sorry, Fran)
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) July 17, 2015
@MasterStrib Teddy, Teddy, Teddy, Teddy
— Jim Andrews (@realjimandrews) July 17, 2015
@MasterStrib Troy Williamson, Dimitrius Underwood, Fred Smoot, Gary Anderson.
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) July 17, 2015
That’s an awful #FranchiseFour https://t.co/FTok3dx0zl
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterStrib) July 17, 2015
It’s a vital position in Norv Turner’s offense, yet the Vikings didn’t get the most from their tight ends last year. Kyle Rudolph played just nine games due to injuries, and he was the only complete tight end on the roster. The Vikings had to rely on Rhett Ellison, a blocking tight end, and Chase Ford, a pass catching tight end, for most of the season.
Before the Vikings drafted a wide receiver, they took tight end MyCole Pruitt in the fifth round with hopes of adding another well-rounded tight end to complement Rudolph. All of a sudden, there’s competition at the position once players report for training camp next Saturday.
We continue our training camp preview by analyzing the tight ends.
SAFE BET STARTER: Kyle Rudolph
He hasn’t been the most durable player on the team over the last two seasons, playing just 17 games during that stretch. Rudolph signed a five-year extension worth $36.5 million during training camp last year, and he’s been determined to prove his worth this offseason. He switched up his workout routine by working out his smaller muscles, incorporating yoga and having a stricter diet.
We’ll see if it’ll help keep him on the field all season, but Rudolph is a good tight end when healthy. He’s capable of blocking in run and pass situations while also serving as a solid option for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater down the field. Rudolph’s presence makes this offense more potent with running back Adrian Peterson and a slew of wide receivers that can all stretch the field. If he battles with injuries again this year, it’ll leave a similar gaping hole that the Vikings had to deal with at the position last year.
BACKUPS: MyCole Pruitt, Chase Ford, Rhett Ellison, Brandon Bostick
CAMP BATTLE TO WATCH: The backup tight end situation will be interesting to watch when you factor in the limitations of Ford and Ellison along with the inexperience of Pruitt.They will all get a shot at winning the backup job. Ellison was the only Vikings tight end that played all 16 games and led the unit with 564 snaps. Ford entered camp last year on the physically unable to perform list with a foot injury. He played just 11 games but finished with better stats than Ellison with 23 receptions for 258 yards and a touchdown.
Unless the Vikings carry four tight ends on the roster, there will also be a battle for the third tight end spot to make the team. Pruitt appears to be a lock to make the roster. Unless Bostick makes a strong case this summer, the third tight end spot might come down to Ford and Ellison.
THE BURNING QUESTION: If you want to label one of the 10 rookies as a “boom” pick, Pruitt might be your guy. But how quickly can Pruitt develop in Turner’s offense? The coaching staff has been impressed with the rookie so far, but we haven’t seen Pruitt in pads yet. General manager Rick Spielman considered Pruitt as a complete tight end after the draft, and we’ll get our first shot in Mankato to see how well he can block. In shorts and shirts though, Pruitt showed that he has good hands.
The Vikings were in a similar situation at running back last year heading into training camp. They had one of the best running backs in the NFL, Adrian Peterson, along with two backups that could fill niche roles, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata.
As we all know by now, that formula only worked for one game. Once Peterson was placed on the Commissioner’s List and eventually suspended, the Vikings had a huge hole to fill for the remaining 15 games.
But once the Vikings return back to Mankato next Saturday to report for training camp, the running backs position will actually look better than it did last year. We continue our training camp preview by analyzing the running backs.
SAFE BET STARTER: Adrian Peterson, Zach Line
The return of Peterson was without question the Vikings’ biggest offseason move. There were questions whether Peterson would report to mandatory minicamp, or even training camp, but the 2012 NFL MVP came back to Winter Park during OTAs after his suspension was uplifted by the NFL. Peterson has transitioned back with the team seamlessly, and he’ll be the focal point of this offense again despite quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s emergence during the final five games of his rookie season.
We’ll see if Peterson, 30, will need to participate in a preseason game after his suspension, but everyone around the organization expects him to have a huge year. He won’t have Jerome Felton, who signed with the Bills, around as his fullback. Zach Line, in his third season, will likely exit camp as the starting fullback.
BACKUPS: Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard, DuJuan Harris, Dominique Williams, Blake Renaud
CAMP BATTLE TO WATCH: It’s clear who the Vikings will use as their starting running back, but McKinnon and Asiata will compete for the backup role. Peterson is a workhorse, so McKinnon and Asiata will be fighting for the leftover snaps on a weekly basis. They bring two different styles to the offense, with Asiata as a short yardage back and McKinnon as a change-of-pack back. They were inconsistent last season, but McKinnon and Asiata gained some valuable experience filling in for Peterson.
THE BURNING QUESTION: It’s evident that Asiata can be used as a short-yardage back, particularly around the goal line, but what will be McKinnon’s role? For a college quarterback, McKinnon’s transition to running back was better than expected before his back injury. He’ll still need to improve as a pass protector and his vision, but the Georgia Southern product is a very versatile weapon on offense.
We expected to see Peterson used more in third down situations last year, and Peterson believes that will be the case again this year in his return. That would cut into some opportunities for McKinnon to see the field. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner will have to get creative to find a role for McKinnon, either on third downs or two running back formations with Peterson. It’ll be a tough adjustment for McKinnon, who started six games as a rookie last year, but he’ll get the chance to learn under Peterson for an entire season this time as he continues to learn the running back position.