EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - MAY 4: Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman of the Minnesota Vikings look on during a rookie minicamp on May 4, 2012 at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
With training camp right around the corner, it's time to start trying to figure what the finalroster will be for your 2012 Minnesota Vikings. Other than QB and RB, there are a lot of positional battles that are going to take place in Mankato...where The Daily Norseman will be covering it live for a week...and the makeup of this team is going to be substantially different than two years ago, or even last year.
There's no Brett Favre drama, no post-lockout everyonehurryupandgettocamp madness, just regular football. So let's try and figure out who might make the final 53. We'll look at offense today, and defense tomorrow, using the roster from the Vikings official website.
When taking Adrian Peterson's injury into account, I am going to put him on the opening day roster. Even if he is put on the PUP, which I wouldn't be opposed to, he's not missing the whole season. So I'm just going to go with what I think the roster will be when he returns, anyway.
After the jump. Oh, projected starters will be in bold.
You Like Me, You Really Like Me: Ponder, Webb, Rosenfels
Grab Your Playbook. The Turk Wants To See You: Bethel-Thompson
Rationale: This seems the most cut and dried of all the positions on the team. The Vikings have publicly said the starting job is Ponder's, they love Webb and his playmaking ability, and Rosenfels is a solid veteran option that can fill the proverbial 'start two or three games if your starter gets hurt' role in case something happens. Something drastic would have to change for these three guys not to be on the opening day roster.
Running Backs (3):
You Like Me, You Really Like Me: Peterson, Gerhart, Hilliard
Grab Your Playbook. The Turk Wants To See You: Coleman, Todman
Rationale: Like quarterback, this position is pretty set as well. I can't see Todman and Coleman as anything more than training camp bodies at this point. Peterson and Gerhart are in, and Hilliard is the only other back on the roster with any NFL experience. That said, his experience is fairly limited, so it's not unrealistic to see Todman or Coleman to jump Hilliard if they stand out in training camp. But for now, I'll take Hilliard.
You Like Me, You Really Like Me: D'Imperio, Felton
Grab Your Playbook. The Turk Wants To See You: Asiata
Rationale: Can I haz MOAR FULLBACK?! This was a weird off-season in terms of free agent signings, wasn't it? It seemed like the Vikings were trying to stock the roster with nothing but tight ends and fullbacks. As much as we would like to have all the fullbacks, we can only choose two. Why D'Imperio over Felton? Why not? Although you could make an argument for Felton, as he has more NFL experience, D'Imperio was the only one on the 53 man roster last year, and he was pretty solid on special teams. So I'm going with D'Imperio. Also, D'Imperio is much harder to spell than Felton, so there's that. Yeah.
Wide Receivers (5):
You Like Me, You Really Like Me: Harvin, Jenkins, Simpson, Wright, Childs,
Grab Your Playbook. The Turk Wants To See You: Aromashodu, Arceneaux, Burton, Jorden, Love, Taylor, Walters
Rationale: I am of the belief that the Vikes grabbed a couple of steals in the 4th round in the form of Arkansas receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. I see Childs supplanting Aromashodu and eventually Jenkins in a year or two, and Wright will be an excellent backup/fill-in for Percy Harvin. Childs was on his way to becoming a top 10 pick before he got hurt, and if he's 100% healthy, mark my words, this kid will be good. The DA was okay last year, but dropped a lot of passes, and his numbers can be picked up (26 catches, 468 yards, 1 TD) from somewhere else. If the Vikings keep 6 WR's, he'll be the sixth. With a lot of two tight end sets, I just don't see the Vikes keeping 6 guys right now.
Tight Ends (4):
You Like Me, You Really Like Me: Rudolph, Carlson, Ellison, Reisner
Grab Your Playbook. The Turk Wants To See You: Shuler
Rationale: Before we go any further, moment of silence and reflection on the career of the People's Champion, Jim Kleinsasser.......................................................................................................................................................................Okay. Rudolph is one of my favorite players on this team, and he brings a lot of promise and flashed some serious pass catching skills at times last year. Carlson, if healthy, can be a deadly bookend to Rudolph in the middle of the field, and let's face it, even if he isn't, he's getting a lot more guaranteed money than anyone else. He's in. And finally, Ellison seems to be the next Kleinsasser in the making. I'm going with 4 TE on the roster and 5 WR, and I think that makes sense with the two TE system Bill Musgrave runs. So throw in Reisner to make it an even four.
Offensive Line (8):
On The Roster:
Center: John Sullivan, Quentin Salisbury
You Like Me, You Really Like Me: Sullivan, Johnson, Schwartz, Kalil, Loadholt, Berger, Fusco, Love/DeGeare
Grab Your Playbook. The Turk Wants To See You: Salisbury, Holmes, Horn, Pastzor
Rationale: What a difference a year makes, huh? I can't tell you how happy I am that the Vikes ended up taking Kalil in the first round. Charlie Johnson will move to left guard, but he's still officially listed as a tackle. With him, Kalil, and Sullivan on the left side and at center, I think those three are at least as good as the 2008/09 versions of Bryant McKinnie, Hutch, and Birk/Sully. On the right side is where things are a bit more cloudy. I don't know if the Vikes keep 8 or 9 linemen, but I'm going to go with 8. I'm not a big fan of either DeGeare or Loadholt, and I see Fusco beating out DeGeare for a roster spot. He played better in relief than DeGeare did, and DeGeare seems to have plateaued. Either way, Schwartz is an upgrade at RG, and that leaves us with RT. I am no fan of Phil Loadholt at all, as readers of this site know. That said, unless DeMarcus Love steps it up, I don't see anyone beating the inconsistent Loadholt out of a job. I have Love in a battle with DeGeare for the final spot, but if Love can beat out Loadholt, then it becomes a Loadholt/DeGeare battle.
The thing that intrigues me about Love is that the Vikings kept him on the practice squad all last year. The other thing that intrigues me in a not positive way is that the Vikings, to my knowledge, never activated him last season. Not one time. So he's either a guy they knew was a project and were willing to wait a year on, or they drafted a guy that wasn't good enough to play on arguably the worst line in the NFL in 2011.
So that's my offensive prediction. I'll have the defense tomorrow.