RB Dalvin Cook leads the best skill group in the NFL
By: Jake Rajala
The professional football league showcases many elite groups of weapons and more talent is undoubtedly being displayed on the field in 2021 than in any previous time period. Bill Barnwell, who is an iconic staff writer for ESPN, recently put out a list of the 32 groups of NFL offensive weapons. At the very top of the list, he marked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers skill group as the utmost best unit in the league.
I believe the defending Super Bowl champions carry players with elite talent and prominent depth all around, but I believe it’s far-fetched to put them at number one. In my opinion, the true number one group is clear. The top offensive skill group is none other than the Minnesota Vikings. To further state my case, I will give three reasons why the Vikings and not the Bucs display the top weaponry in the NFL.
- Vikings have a stronger WR duo
The stories and myths surrounding Vikings WR Adam Thielen may have started to slowly fade, but he can still operate at a high playing level. The Bucs number one WR in Mike Evans may have hauled in a whopping 13 touchdowns last season, but the Vikings number two WR unveiled 14 receiving touchdowns on the table. Thielen’s career-high touchdown count and 926 yards clearly show he’s one of, if not the best WR2 in the league.
Chris Godwin may have been a stat machine in the days of Jameis Winston leading the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and then interceptions, but he hasn’t shown to be a dominant force of late. Godwin had 840 yards and likely would have been floating around 1,000 yards if he stayed healthy for the long season, but his touchdown count was just half (7) of what the freakish Thielen was showing. It’s fair to say that Thielen’s resume and talent is a step ahead of Godwin and he’s been playing in a far less explosive passing attack. As far as the number one WR spot between the Bucs and Vikings, the honors actually go to Vikings Justin Jefferson.
Jefferson was fourth in the whole NFL last season in receiving yards (1,400). The Vikings WR was just a rookie last season and didn’t get into sync until a short period into the season. Going into year two, Jefferson could realistically show he’s the best WR in the NFL. Evans screams consistent high-level play, but he’s not quite rubber-like when it comes to route running, nor can he take the top off a defense as the second-year Vikings WR can. Buccaneers Antonio Brown is a very quality number three WR, but I believe the Vikings WR duo can take over games individually. Thielen’s clutch ability and Jefferson’s explosion with any route concept deep down the field make them very reliable and hard to cover with one or two defenders.
- Dalvin Cook is significantly more impressive than the Bucs running game
The Bucs have an admirable duo with all-purpose back Ronald Jones and 2021 playoff hero Leonard Fournette, but both of them combined don’t match Dalvin Cook’s playmaking ability. Dalvin Cook was second in the league in rushing yards (1,416) and rushing touchdowns (16). It’s worth noting that Cook put this damage on defenses despite missing two games. Leonard Fournette compiled 367 rushing yards and six touchdowns during the span of the 16 game season, while Ronald Jones captured a stout of 978 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. The Bucs RB duo is a nice assist to Tom Brady’s passing game, but they don’t stack up to the production that Cook lays out with even a combined effort.
All in all, the Buccaneers should be labeled as a Top 5 offensive group of weapons. Yet, I believe an overrated factor of the defending Super Bowl title on their nameplate combined with the fact that these slightly dissolving household players like Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette just happened to make their biggest plays in the most recent game (Super Bowl), helped them garner the number one spot. The Vikings may have been a 7-9 squad with no impressive number three wideout, but I believe the talent is above and beyond to earn them the first place standing.