Well, folks, final cutdown day for the Beloved Purple, as well as the rest of the National Football League, is this Saturday, and the Vikings have a few interesting decisions to make. What are they going to do with the quarterback situation? Who's going to be the nickel back? What about the offensive line backups?
Have no fear, for it's now the time to make those projections for the Vikings' roster for the 2009 season. From 75 down to 53, here's what I think I would do if I were in charge. And, heck, I'm going to give myself an easy one to get things started.
Starters: Ryan Longwell (K), Chris Kluwe (P), Cullen Loeffler (LS)
Let's see. . .Longwell is the only kicker on the current roster, Kluwe is the only punter, and Loeffler is the only long-snapper. Therefore, I'll go out on a limb and guess that they're all going to make the team. Damn, this GM thing is easy!
Okay, with those three spots filled, the rest of the roster projection comes after the jump.Quarterback
Starter: Brett Favre
Backups: Sage Rosenfels, John David Booty
Likely to be traded: Tarvaris Jackson
There's an outside chance that the Vikings will keep four quarterbacks, but I really don't think that's going to happen. Favre obviously didn't come here to hold a clipboard, and the Vikings didn't deal a fourth-round pick for Rosenfels and give him a contract extension to turn around and trade him five months later. That leaves the third QB spot to be decided between Jackson and Booty.
The Vikings could attempt to slip Booty onto the practice squad. . .and it's been determined that he is eligible for the practice squad. . .but Minnesota may still have a bad taste in their mouths over the Tyler Thigpen situation and might not want to allow that to happen again. Jackson, bolstered largely by his performance against Kansas City in the second game of the pre-season, has seen an increase in his potential trade value, and I can't shake the feeling that the Vikings will deal him to somewhere with a need at quarterback for a fifth-round choice. Teams like Jacksonville, Buffalo, and San Francisco are teams that I would expect to be associated with a potential Tarvaris Jackson trade.
Starters: Adrian Peterson, Naufahu Tahi (FB)
Backups: Chester Taylor, Albert Young
Practice Squad Candidate: Ian Johnson
Cut: Nehemiah Broughton
The most interesting battle here has been for the #3 spot between Young and Johnson. While Johnson is the sentimental favorite in many eyes, the reason that the Vikings didn't draft a running back in 2009 is because the coaching staff likes Albert Young a lot. To Young's credit, he has outperformed Johnson this pre-season, and I'm not sure that Johnson has made a significant enough impact on special teams to merit a roster spot at this point. I'd love to see him spend a year on the practice squad, though.
As far as the fullbacks are concerned, Brad Childress has a really weird love affair with Tahi, and the versatility of a couple of players that will be mentioned later negates the need for another "pure" fullback. Nehemiah's pink slip should be Broughten to him sometime on Saturday.
Starters: Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice
Backups: Percy Harvin, Bobby Wade, Jaymar Johnson, Darius Reynaud
Cuts: Nick Moore, Vinny Perretta, Bobby Williams
Yes, I have the feeling that the Vikings will be forced to keep six receivers this time around. Contrary to a few years ago when the Vikings had basically zero talent at the WR position, now they have a decent little group. The guy that's on the bubble here is Reynaud. The Vikings appear to have given Percy Harvin the kick returner's job, and Jaymar Johnson is establishing himself as a decent punt return guy, so I'm not sure if they'll find a role for Reynaud or not. Granted, the Vikings do have a couple of guys in Harvin and Rice that have a propensity for getting banged up, but is that enough of a reason to spend a sixth roster spot on a wide receiver? I have a strange feeling that it will be.
Starter: Visanthe Shiancoe
Backups: Jim Kleinsasser, Jeff Dugan
Practice Squad Candidate: Jake Nordin
Cut: Garrett Mills
Remember when we all thought that the Vikings "stole" Garrett Mills from the Patriots a few years back? Well, yeah. . .that was before we knew that the guy couldn't stay healthy for five consecutive minutes. He's been injured for the better part of this pre-season as well, and the time has probably come to just cut ties with him all together.
Nordin could be an intriguing practice squad candidate. He's a local kid with pretty decent blocking ability and good size. Plus, with the kind of offense the Vikings have run under Brad Childress, it probably wouldn't hurt them to have a spare TE stashed away somewhere. As far as the mainstays, Shiancoe looks to have a big year in 2009, and the ability of both Kleinsasser and Dugan to line up at fullback as well as TE is the reason I mentioned earlier that the Vikings don't need to keep two fullbacks around.
Starters: Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson, John Sullivan, Anthony Herrera, Phil Loadholt
Backups: Artis Hicks, Ryan Cook, Drew Radovich
Practice Squad Candidates: Jon Cooper, Andy Kemp
Cuts: Juan Garcia, Brian Daniels, Chris Clark
Versatility is going to be the key to how this part of the roster is affected. Artis Hicks played capably at a number of offensive line positions in 2008, and Ryan Cook can
suck back-up at center, right guard, or right tackle. We haven't heard a lot of noise about Drew Radovich this year after hearing quite a bit about him prior to his injury in 2008, but when you're an offensive lineman, that's generally a pretty good thing. It's entirely possible that the Vikings will carry nine offensive linemen, too, but I'm not sure which of the guys I have getting cut is the most likely candidate to latch on if that becomes the case.
Cooper and Kemp strike me as good practice squad types for this year. Kemp is a mauler out of Wisconsin that the Vikings grabbed as an undrafted free agent, and Cooper. . .the Big 12 Conference's offensive lineman of the year as a senior. . .is an undersized, finesse center that would appear to fit quite well into the Vikings' zone-blocking scheme.
So, with that, we've filled 27 spots on the 53-man roster. That means the other 26 spots need to be filled with defenders, and that's exactly what we'll do in the second half of the preview. Look for that sometime tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, ladies and gentlemen!