The Minnesota Vikings came out of nowhere last year and shocked the NFL by making the playoffs just one year removed from having one of the worst records in the league. The Vikings took tackle Matt Kalil and safety Harrison Smith in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and both paid off huge for them as rookies.
Of course, where would Minnesota be without the power surge by running back Adrian Peterson, who ran for 2,000 yards plus and proved to the NFL after reconstructive knee surgery that he was back and better than ever.
Peterson is–in my opinion–the LeBron James of the NFL, he just plays in a bad sports market (no offense, Minnesota fans) and doesn’t get the national attention he deserves. Even after beating out Peyton Manning for NFL MVP last season, I still don’t think Peterson has garnered the kind of respect that is given to other great athletes. Maybe I’m wrong.
As good as Peterson is, he is going to need some help from a young Vikings team. Here are three players–one from each of the last three draft classes–that could break out for the Vikings in 2013.
Third Year — Christian Ponder, QB
I couldn’t pick Kyle Rudolph for this, because he was already the MVP of the Pro Bowl last year. Christian Ponder is in a make or break year for the Vikings, and he really has no choice but to break out or potentially lose his job. I saw Ponder play live against the Denver Broncos as a rookie, and I came away wildly impressed with some of the throws he made, as well as very confused by others.
That’s pretty much the story of Ponder’s career to this point. He has proven to be a capable game manager who will make some awful throws at the worst times. If Ponder can clean up his decision making and become more of a playmaker for the Vikings’ offense, he can be a star in the NFL. Will that be in 2013?