After we looked at the first half of Pat Kirwan's questions about NFL roster depth and how the Minnesota Vikings stacked up, we had four questions we gave a "yes" answer to and three that we answered in the negative. We've got six questions to go, so let's get to them.
7) Is there a third defensive tackle that not only plays in a rotation but could play the entire game if need be?
Again, I make an assumption about the starters and figure that they're going to be Linval Joseph and Sharrif Floyd. With that being the case, I think that Fred Evans is definitely the kind of guy that could play entire games. He's stepped into the starting lineup in the past, and has shown an ability to play well against both the pass and the run. Obviously you'd want him as more of a rotation guy, and that's how the Vikings treat their defensive linemen, but I think Evans is starter material.
8) Is there a quality nickel corner on the roster, since most teams are at least 50 percent sub defenses?
The defensive secondary is going to present the biggest challenge for Mike Zimmer, George Edwards, and Jerry Gray going forward. Xavier Rhodes shows all the hallmarks of a very good corner on one side, and Captain Munnerlyn will start on the outside and slide into the slot in sub packages. . .he's not a concern, either. Beyond that? A whole lot of question marks. Can third-year man Josh Robinson be rehabbed? Is a scheme change what the doctor ordered for Derek Cox? Right now, unfortunately, I can't give a positive answer to this one.
9) Is there a fourth corner for dime packages?
If we don't think there's a third corner, what do you suppose the odds are that there's a fourth? Hopefully, at some point this season, the answer to this question and the previous one will change.
10) Is there a third safety for big nickel defenses?
Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford figure to be the starters, and while we all know what Smith is capable of, Sanford is pretty much the definition of "league average." That's not necessarily bad, mind you. As far as a third player. . .call me crazy, but I liked what I saw out of Andrew Sendejo last season when he had to step in for Smith. Keep an eye on rookie Antone Exum for this one, too. . .he's gotten the dreaded "would have been drafted higher if not for injuries" label after last year, but with good reason. My guess is that Kirwan answered this question differently than I'm going to.
11) Is there a return specialist that can either handle both punt and kick returns or contribute as a real position player?
Pat Kirwan, Cordarrelle Patterson. Cordarrelle Patterson, Pat Kirwan.
12) Does your team have a special-teams linebacker that leads the specials and can play inside linebacker in a pinch?
We're not sure who the Vikings' starting middle linebacker is going to be. It could be Jasper Brinkley, it could be Michael Mauti, it could be Audie Cole. . .heck, it could even be Chad Greenway (although that's highly unlikely). Cole and Mauti both played plenty of special teams last season, and Cole saw significant time at the middle linebacker spot with all of Erin Henderson's issues last year. I think that either Cole or Mauti would be capable of stepping from the special teams unit into the middle linebacker spot and performing reasonably well.
So, with the list of questions from Pat Kirwan's article about depth complete, yours truly has answered eight questions with "yes" and five questions with "no." Do you agree with the assessment? Do you think the Vikings' current lack of cornerback depth (or linebacker depth) might override any of the depth at other positions?