I think that since UDFA's have been signed and everything draft related is just about over (except for dollar amounts on contracts, but that's another story for another day) that I will post my ideas about who will make the roster and why. In my write-up, players who are italicized make the team, and bubble players are in parenthesis. Players I think will be cut have a line through them. The order of players is not important and does not indicate my belief about where each of them will begin the season on the Vikings official depth chart. Here we go!
No real surprises at the QB position. The Vikings have three QB's on the roster, and all three of them make the team. I keep Ponder because he is a good back-up QB, and as he only has one year remaining on his contract, might as well play for the team who is paying him the money. As for Partridge, I think he has about as much success with the Vikings as James Vandenberg last year.
As far as position secureness goes, Adrian Peterson is the most guaranteed starter on this team. As the Vikings spent a 3rd round pick on McKinnon in this draft, he will almost certainly be making the team, unless he has less ability than the coaches seem to believe. The Vikings need a 3rd RB behind those two, and at this point, I would say Matt Asiata would be in the lead for that spot because of how he performed in limited action last year. Banyard could stick around, but I somehow doubt it unless he becomes one hell of a special teams contributor. Williams is a camp body as far as I know, and I would be surprised if he made it through the first cut, if that far at all.
FB: Jerome Felton, (Zach Line)
Felton is probably the second most secure job on the team. I don't see the need for the Vikings to cut him, and besides, Norv likes to have a good fullback to supplement his running game. I am a little iffier on Line, but I like the kid and I feel like he has at least a small shot of defeating Asiata for a roster spot, but maybe that's just me.
Outside WR: Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, (Rodney Smith), (Adam Thielen),
Lestar Jean, Kamar Jorden
Inside WR: Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright,
Erik Lora, Donte Foster, Kain Colter
The three WR's I can see making the team are Patterson, Wright and Jennings. At this point, Simpson is on the bubble in my book, because at the moment he is only on a one-year deal. Rodney Smith and Adam Thielen are both WR's who need to step up in a big way in my book, because they both have the size necessary to be massive receiving threats both on the outside as well as in the red zone. To be honest, I used height to divvy up the WR's (6'1" or less were put in the inside WR category), and don't entirely know all that much about the receivers that haven't been in camp, and I thusly assume that most of them are probably going to be cut and then signed to the practice squad.
TE: Rhett Ellison, Kyle Rudolph, (Allen Reisner), (Chase Ford),
This depth chart is a little easier to divine. Ellison and Rudolph are both locks in my mind. Reisner and Ford will both need to work hard to make the roster at all, and I don't anticipate Leonard making the roster.
OT: Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt, Antonio Richardson, (Kevin Murphy),
Mike Remmers, Matt Hall, Pierce Burton
Kalil and Loadholt are locks at left and right tackle. I see Richardson making the roster because he has third round talent even though he was an undrafted FA. Murphy and Remmers are both depth moves and they are yes/no depending on how many offensive linemen we carry on the 53-man roster. Hall and Burton have next to no chance of making the roster.
Even though Yankey should get an excellent shot to unseat Charlie Johnson as the starting left guard, I still think the Vikings keep Johnson around as a solid backup. Ducasse was pretty horrible, and he will have to show massive amounts of improvement to make the roster. Baca I am a little more supportive of, because the Vikings did put a draft pick into him, but he will also need to show a fair amount of improvement over last year in order to make this team. Boffeli is another player with next to zero chance of making the Vikings 53-man roster.
Sully is an obvious lock, and Berger is one of the better backup swing center/guards in the NFL. Kerin might be more of a guard, but his potential position will really only matter if he manages to stay on a roster long enough to make it so.
The first three are obvious locks (in my mind, anyway). Corey Wootton is only on the bubble on my mind because he has to prove he can be healthy before he can make the team. If he does, then I can't see more than one other DE making the team, if any others make the team at all.
As Floyd and Joseph are the projected starters at their position, they are locks. Evans is a lock because he is the most experienced backup at nose tackle, and everyone else is inexperienced at best. Kheeston Randall and Shamar Stephen are incredibly alike in measurables, and the only thing separating them at this point is that Randall has more experience. I wouldn't mind it if Johnson didn't make the roster, as he was most recently a *Saint.
Barr is an obvious lock, and I think the money we are paying Chad Greenway makes him a lock for the roster as well. I would like to think that both Audie Cole and Mike Mauti make the roster, because I think both have a lot of potential to be great linebackers for the Vikings. Brinkley is meh for me, he's on a camp prove-it deal, Dean is almost entirely reserved to special teams, and I have no idea when the Vikings signed this Brandon Watts kid. Hodges is interesting because while I definitely think he has a shot to make the roster, he needs to make his presence felt much more than it was last year if he wants to solidify a spot with the Vikings.
To be honest, I am hesitant to really declare anyone off-limits at CB, because the Vikings are desperate for an outside receiver to pair with Rhodes when in the nickel and Munnerlyn slides to the slot. Munnerlyn is a lock, Rhodes is a lock, Sherels is a lock both as a backup CB and as one of the top punt return men in the business, and Robinson is a lock because I think he can be put to better use in the more physical defense of Mike Zimmer than in the soft coverage of Leslie Frazier. Of the CB's on the bubble, Prater has the best chance to make the roster as he was a good player for the Vikings to have last season when they were desperate for a healthy body to play. Derek Cox is second on that list, because he has had a few good seasons when he has had a better defensive coach. Everyone else is a true question mark in my mind.
Dirty Harri is the only lock at FS. He needs at least one solid backup, and Blanton and Coleman will likely be the ones to fight over who will be backing Smith up.
I believe in my mind that Mistral Raymond became expendable when Antone Exum was drafted. And Jamarca Sanford should be looking in his rearview mirror, because I believe that Exum has the ability to be the Vikings starting SS in a few years. And I keep Sendejo around because he is good special teams' depth and has shown the ability to come into games and be a reliable replacement for a starter if necessary.
ST: Blair Walsh, Jeff Locke, Marcus Sherels, Cordarrelle Patterson, (Cullen Loeffler)
Walsh and Locke are obviously back in their spots from last year. Sherels returns and does punt returns again for the Vikings. While I don't necessarily believe that the Vikings should be risking Patterson on kick returns, until someone steps up with the same level of explosive talent that he has, the Vikings should keep trotting him out there. Oh, and if they could ever find someone to replace Cullen Loeffler, this year, the year where they are paying him over a million dollars, would be a great year to do that.
What do you guys think? Who is a lock and who isn't? Did I miss someone I could add to my list? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!