By Lindsey Young
EAGAN, Minn. – For the seventh time in his career, Kirk Cousins has been named to the "NFL Top 100" list.
The Vikings quarterback landed at No. 42 in this year's countdown, which is the highest he's ever been ranked.
Launched in 2011, "NFL Top 100" is an ordering of the league's top players by their peers. Cousins has made the list every season except 2021 over the past eight years: 2016 (No. 85), 2017 (No. 70), 2018 (No. 94), 2019 (No. 78), 2020 (No. 58) and 2022 (No. 99).
Adam Thielen, who teamed with Cousins the past five seasons in Minnesota before joining the Panthers this spring in free agency, referenced the QB's grit – a quality made more known to fans through Netflix's recent Quarterback docuseries.
"His mental toughness, his physical toughness," Thielen said. "When you look back at the film and you see him taking shot after shot and delivering the ball, and then maybe scrambling and trying to get a first down on a big play in the game, and then taking a shot there."
Cousins' Top 100 segment highlighted the Vikings Week 10 overtime win at Buffalo, during which Cousins took a beating but still managed to make massive plays – including the fourth-and-18 shot to Justin Jefferson.
"J.J. had probably one of the best catches in the history of the game," Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson said. "It was one of the best games I've been in, and you couldn't do that without Kirk on your side."
Left tackle Christian Darrisaw, who now has two seasons under his belt protecting Cousins, said the QB "always arrives to the moment" when necessary.
"His demeanor on the field is definitely different than it is in the locker room," Darrisaw said. "The mindset for us is just, 'Give him time, and he's gonna make the right play.' "
Fans saw a whole different side of Cousins during the 2022 season, when he embraced the postgame bit following road wins of shedding his shirt and donning teammates' chains.
"Kirko Chainz!" laughed Hockenson, who joined the Vikings via trade last November. "My first week there was [the game at] Washington, and that's when he had his shirt off and [was wearing] chains on the plane. That was kind of my first interaction with Kirk."
Added Jefferson: "When you put the chains on him, we got him to a different character than what he was before."
While Cousins may have come out of his shell a bit more in the public eye, his skill set is nothing new to teammates and opponents alike.
"He might not always get the top-guy recognition, but the guy won 13 games this year. That's all you can ask for [in] a quarterback," Packers cornerback Keisean Nixon said.
As Cousins and his teammates will tell you, the recognition is appreciated – but all they really want to do is win football games.
And with Cousins at the helm, the Vikings believe they can do just that.
"He's doing a great job leading this team," Jefferson said, "and we're gonna be right there behind him."
Cousins is the second current Viking to be included in this year's Top 100, following Harrison Smith at No. 97.