Why Yes, Yes It Is Way Too Early To Take A Stab At The 53 Man Roster (But We're Doing It Anyway)

You know, you guys inspire me.  I read fanposts on different players and position depth, and I ruminate on it.  And then I keep thinking how a certain guy might fit into the 53 man roster.  Then I started thinking (never really a good thing), "hey, let's take a stab at the 53 man roster."

Ponderrudolph_medium

Pretty sure these guys make the final 53. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Rudolph's Twittering expertise)

"But Ted", you say, "there's been no free agency, and you have no idea who the Vikings will add and who will be released".

I know.  But I could talk more about the stadium, or the labor strife.  No?  You'd rather scoop your eyes out with a rusty butter knife, too?  Good, we're in agreement about something!

I know that this is relatively nuts to do right now, but when you consider that I used to willingly fly my helicopter towards incoming fire, and not away from it, like a sane, normal, and completely rational person would do, this seems a wee bit normal, doesn't it?

Perspective folks, it's all about perspective.

I just want some football.  53 man roster, offense edition, after the jump.  I might not get to the defense and special teams until after the Memorial Day holiday, but I'll try to do it before then.

What I'm going to do is currently list every guy on the roster (including guys who are still technically associated with the team, like Tarvaris Jackson and Ray Edwards), and the guys highlighted and bolded will be my roster picks.  Easy peezy?  Good.

QB:

Christian Ponder-Finally, the Vikings have a guy that will be their long term answer at QB.  At least I hope he will be.  I've been thinking (let me reiterate what a BAD idea this usually is) about this situation, and the conventional wisdom is that with the labor problems, there's no WAY Ponder will be ready by the time the season opens.  I'm calling it right now:  Ponder starts week 1.  Ponder has swum upstream on assumption made about him (got a scholarship on who his dad knew, weak arm, third rounder at best) and taken those assumptions and wipes his ass with them, so why wouldn't he be ready for week 1?  Bill Musgrave's offense has been simplified, and it's similar to what Ponder ran at FSU, and tell me the last time a rookie managed to get some veterans together to do voluntary workouts.  He sounds like a proactive, charismatic leader.    

Joe Webb-Okay, I've given a lot of love to Ponder, but I have to be honest-I've got as much man-love for Mighty Joe Webb as I do Ponder.  Webb brings a unique skill set to the Vikings, and I would like to think that Musgrave has some variation of the Wildcat package for him.  All of that aside, if Ponder doesn't adapt to the pro game, Webb has an excellent opportunity to win the starting job, and I would be okay with it. 

Patrick Ramsey-Of course, when we say ‘Patrick Ramsey', we all know that's Spanish for ‘journeyman veteran'.  They'll pick up somebody, and you know, why not keep Ramsey?  I never really thought about him before I started looking at the roster, but if the Vikings are going to hitch their wagon to Ponder, why not keep Ramsey?  He'd be cheaper than any other option out there, and all the other guys aren't much better than him.

Rhett Bomar-I don't see Bomar making the final 53, they'll get somebody else.

Tarvaris Jackson-When a rookie gets your jersey number, you're not coming back.  Good luck, TJ.  I hope you have a great career in the NFL.  Sorry it didn't work out here.

RB:

Adrian Peterson--  I'm not a guy that buys jerseys; it's just not me.  I've bought two in my life-Favre and Peterson.  That's how awesome AP is.  I could go on and on and on about his awesomeness, but do I really need to?   Oh, I'm pondering getting a #7 jersey.  Pondering...Ponder, seewhatIdidthere?

Toby Gerhart-Gerhart had a stop and start rookie campaign, and he seemed very uncomfortable early in the season.  But by the end of the season, I thought he had grown into his role nicely, and I look forward to watching him as he continues to develop.  He's proven on occasion that he is more than capable of being a primary backup/third down back/spot starter (remember his impressive Washington game), he just needs to do it on a more consistent basis.

Lorenzo Booker-Talk about a diamond in the rough.  Booker was signed well into the 2010 season, and became an immediate asset on special teams.  He has an opportunity to push Gerhart, but I think he found a role on this team, as he averaged more yards per kickoff return than Percy Harvin.

Naufahu Tahi-I give Tahi the edge, simply because he's the veteran.  I can't say that Tahi has ever impressed me, and to me, the FB position on the Vikings seems fairly interchangeable.  That said, he's been around for three years, and has beaten back other challenges, so you almost have to give him the edge by default.

Ryan D'Imperio-D'Imperio, Tahi, like I said I think the FB position is completely fungible, and it wouldn't surprise me if D'Imperio overtook Tahi for the final spot.  But for now, I give it to Tahi.

Albert Young-He was given an IR settlement and won't be back.

TE:

Visanthe Shiancoe-Remember when Visanthe Shiancoe couldn't catch water with a bucket at the bottom of Niagara Falls?  Yeah, me either, because he transformed himself into one of the best red zone threats in the conference over the last few years.  Shiancoe is one of the vets going to Florida to work with Ponder, and I think he'll be one of Ponder's favorite targets.  He's only got one year left on his contract, but he's going to play an important role in the development of CP. 

Jim Kleinsasser-Sadly, the end of the road is nigh for Jim Kleinsasser, a guy that has been a fan favorite since he was drafted in 2000.  I think he'll play out his contract and retire, or at least, if he wants to play, it probably won't be with the Vikes.  Kleinsasser has stuck around for so long because he's like a tackle that can catch passes, and on the rare occasion he does catch one and starts rumbling, it's must-see TV.  Time and injuries are starting to catch up with him, but he'll be around for 2011.

Kyle Rudolph-You don't draft a TE in the second round and not expect big things from him.  He'll learn from Shiancoe, and eventually become the primary pass catching TE in Bill Musgrave's offense.  Ponder to Rudolph has the potential to be a great combo for the Vikings for the next decade, and I was really happy with this pick.  Oh, and that pic of those two that has made it around the Internet?  Awesome.

Jeff Dugan-I don't see the Vikings keeping four tight ends, which makes Dugan the odd man out. 

WR:

Sidney Rice-I was kind of surprised that the Vikings didn't franchise Sid, but I still think he is a guy the Vikings will sign to an extension.  If you look at quarterbacks drafted in the first round, one of the things that determines ultimate success or failure is their receivers, and you don't have to look any farther than our beloved purple to see that.  When Daunte Culpepper was drafted, he had Randy Moss and Cris Carter to throw to.  When Tarvaris Jackson was drafted, he had Travis Taylor, Troy Williamson, and Bobby Wade.  Culpepper became a good quarterback, Jackson didn't.  Granted, that's somewhat simplistic, but a quarterback can't be successful if he doesn't have good receivers, and the Vikings know this.  The Vikings   Rice gets an extension.

Percy Harvin-Percy Harvin is awesome.  That is all.

Greg Camarillo-One play turned me into a big Greg Camarillo fan.  Remember the Cardinals game, when it was early in the game, still first quarter?  The Cardinals had just returned a kick for a TD to tie the game.  Favre threw a bad pick to Kerry Rhodes, who was going 66 yards to house it, but for Greg Camarillo?  Remember Camarillo came from the far side of the field, stripped Rhodes at the one or two, the ball went into the end zone and it was a touchback for the good guys?  Yeah, he stays.

Bernard Berrian-There aren't a lot of Bernard Berrian fans around here, and I think for some justifiable reasons.  That said, he's better than the flotsam and jetsam below, so unless the Vikings get someone in free agency, Berrian stays.  He can play wide, which keeps Harvin in the slot, where he is lethal. 

Greg Lewis-Lewis will always be remembered for the catch against the 49ers, and probably has the edge because he was suited up more last season than any of the remaining guys were.  Of course, Lewis was one of Chilly's Philly guys, and I'm not sure anything can be read too much into that now that Leslie Frazier is the coach, so to say his spot is 100% secure would be premature.

Hank Baskett, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Freddie Brown, Stephen Burton, Juaquin Iglesias, Jaymar Johnson-If there's one guy I could see making the jump over Lewis, and maybe even Berrian, it would be Jaymar Johnson.  He was a decent punt returner in 2009, but got hurt last year and went on IR.  I'd like to say I can speak intelligently on these other guys, but I can't.  Hell, I'd just like to say I can speak intelligently.

OL:

Bryant McKinnie, LT-Bryant McKinnie has been about as popular as poison ivy on the delicates, but he says he's re-dedicating himself this off-season and vows to be in great shape and ready to go.  In an unrelated note, I said I was going to quit drinking for Lent, and that lasted about 20 minutes.  But that's because I'm a heretic Lutheran, and I don't give up anything for Lent.    I'll believe McKinnie and laud him when he actually does it.

Steve Hutchinson, LG-Like Kleinsasser, time and injuries are starting to catch up with a guy who will someday go into the Hall of Fame, but Hutch has one or two good years left.

John Sullivan, C-When he wasn't injured, I thought Sully was better than 2009.  Problem was he wasn't healthy much, and he got schooled quite a bit, and quite frankly, he was out-performed by Ryan Cook when Cook had to start.  A healthy Sullivan will make all the difference this season, and I am expecting a lot from him in 2011.

Anthony Herrera, RG-Herrera is still the incumbent, but I can see Chris DeGeare pushing him for the starting job.  DeGeare was okay at times last season while Herrera was injured (man, that injury thing sure is a theme on this line, isn't it?) but I still think RG is Herrera's to lose.

Phil Loadholt, RT-Loadholt has had a couple up and down seasons.  At times you can see the monster potential, and other times he gets smacked around worse than Custer at the Little Bighorn.  That inconsistency is probably the reason the Vikings grabbed DeMarcus Love, who will push Loadholt.

Ryan Cook, C/G/T-You know, I like Ryan Cook.  He is a serviceable lineman up and down the line, except left tackle, and that makes him valuable.  I don't think he's a good option as a long term starter at any position, but is a good spot starter at four of the five offensive line spots, and that makes him valuable.

Jon Cooper, C-It's not that I'm impressed with Cooper-he was fairly underwhelming as a replacement for Sullivan, it's just that the guys that are on the roster below him impress me less, and in projections like these, I give the nod to the veteran.  But if Cook plays as well as the backup as he did last year, I can see Coop getting squeezed out in a numbers game.

Chris DeGeare, G-DeGeare has potential, but I don't know that he has the talent to beat out Herrera.  He is younger and healthier than Herrera, but he hasn't taken that next step in terms of being able to take over a starting position.  I think DeGeare has the potential to be a David Dixon-type guy-solid starter and a guy you can pencil in for 7 or 8 years, but nothing extraordinary.

DeMarcus Love, T-If Love hadn't hurt his knee and done so poorly at the Senior Bowl, he would have gone a lot higher in the draft.  I think Love will compete for the starting RT position from day one, and in three years we might look at him as one of the big steals of this draft class. 

Patrick Brown, Brandon Fusco, Seth Olsen, Thomas Welch-It's tough for me to imagine these guys as anything more than training camp bodies right now.  I liked Seth Olsen when he was at Iowa, and if Hutch can't stay healthy it might open an opportunity for him, but that won't be sorted out until training camp.

So, that gives us 24 guys for the offense.  Assuming we have a kicker, a punter, and a long snapper, that gives us 26 spots for the defense, which we'll cover in the next day or two.  If I can't get 26 guys, we'll come back over here and add either a lineman or WR over here to even things out, okay?

Thoughts?

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