MINNEAPOLIS - The National Football League’s offseason workout program is over, and players are on their own for the next month until training camp starts.
The Minnesota Vikings held three weeks of organized team activities, with nearly perfect attendance over the whole stretch, and wrapped up their off-season program last week with mandatory minicamp. Mike Zimmer liked enough of what he saw that he ended two practices more than a half hour early, then canceled the final practice altogether and sent players home early.
This week, CBS Sports NFL writer Cody Benjamin ranked the top 32 duos in the NFL. You won’t be surprised that he picked Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson for the Vikings, and he thinks they’re among the best in the league. Out of 32 teams, he ranks them eighth. Benjamin has them fifth-best in the NFC, and second in the NFC North behind Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, which Benjamin has as No. 1 in the NFL. We’ll find out at some point if Rodgers is still wearing a Packers’ jersey in September.
Here are the top 8, ranked by Bejamin:
- Dalvin Cook & Justin Jefferson (Vikings)
- Aaron Donald & Jalen Ramsey (Rams)
- Kyler Murray & DeAndre Hopkins (Cardinals)
- Russell Wilson & DK Metcalf (Seahawks)
- Josh Allen & Stefon Diggs (Bills)
- Justin Herbert & Keenan Allen (Chargers)
- Patrick Mahomes & Tyreek Hill (Chiefs)
- Aaron Rodgers & Davante Adams (Packers)
For the Vikings, the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to Cook and Jefferson. Cook finished second in the NFL in rushing last season, with the second-most carries in the NFL. He had 1,557 yards, averaged five yards per carry and had six runs of 20 yards or more. He finished second in the NFL with 16 rushing touchdowns, and became a pivotal weapon for Kirk Cousins in the screen passing game with 41 catches for 361 yards, good for third on the team behind Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
There’s been plenty of talk in the offseason about who the Vikings will have as their third option for receiver. If it’s not tight ends Irv Smith Jr. or Tyler Conklin, it might be Cook. He’s said multiple times he’s ready for whatever the Vikings want to throw at him. He showed in 2020 what he’s capable of in his first healthy season.
If it wasn’t for Justin Herbert, Jefferson would have been the NFL Rookie of the Year. Jefferson, the No. 22 overall pick out of LSU, finished his rookie year breaking records set by Randy Moss with 88 catches for 1,400 yards. He finished fourth in the NFL in yardage, and scored seven touchdowns. That’s despite seeing a limited role in the first two weeks, still getting adjusted to playing at the NFL level without the benefit of a full offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He made plays all over the field, and it should be interesting to see how he can build off his rookie season.