Minnesota Vikings: Why Percy Harvin Could Be Legitimate NFL MVP Candidate

Chris SchadContributor IIIOctober 13, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 7:   Percy Harvin #12 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 7, 2012 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

There are few players who can be as explosive as Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin. The first-round pick (22nd overall) in the 2009 NFL draft has been a vital cog in the Vikings' offense since his arrival. His versatility as a runner and receiver, plus his ability to return kicks make Harvin a complete player.

While fantasy football fans know all about Harvin's value, he's making a similar impact for the surprising Vikings who are tied for first place in the NFC North.

One season ago, the Vikings were a mess offensively as they were unable to generate anything unless the ball went to Adrian Peterson.

In the first six games of 2011, the Vikings were averaging only 168.6 passing yards and 310 total yards per game.

Of course, the Vikings were led by a struggling Donovan McNabb at quarterback in those games, and they were limiting the use of Harvin, who had 25 catches for 261 yards and no touchdowns.

After the loss to the Chicago Bears on October 16, 2011, the Vikings turned to Christian Ponder, who decided to make Harvin his personal security blanket.

It's worked well since then. Harvin has led the NFL (among wide receivers) in offensive touches in the past year with 151. By comparison, the next highest total is 111 by Wes Welker of New England.

With those touches, Harvin makes a difference. He's racked up 1,362 combo yards (1,113 receiving, 249 rushing) for an average of 9.01 yards every time he touches the ball.


Even more incredible, those numbers don't even include his kick returns. In addition to having a 105-yard kickoff return against the Detroit Lions on September 30, Harvin has been averaging 38.3 yards per return, which leads the NFL.

Despite having scored just three touchdowns this season (one receiving, one rushing and one kickoff return), Harvin is beginning to put up elite numbers for an offense that isn't known for offensive numbers outside of Peterson.

In the history of the NFL, there has never been a wide receiver to win the Most Valuable Player award. This is usually because the success of a receiver has been directly tied to the play of his quarterback.

However, Ponder's numbers (six touchdowns, two interceptions, 69 percent completion percentage) aren't mind-blowing, making Harvin's candidacy a special case.

If the Vikings continue to win, that candidacy could gain a groundswell of support.