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A Way Too Early 53 Man Roster Projection

With free agency and the draft behind us, let's take an early look at what the Vikings 53 man roster could look like

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency, the NFL draft, and the flurry of undrafted free agents being signed after the draft, the Minnesota Vikings have hit the ceiling on their 90 man roster. Now that we know, plus or minus a player here and there, the Vikings have their Mankato roster set. And of those 90, only 53 will get a Golden Wonka Ticket to an NFL active roster. Who will those players be? Let's try and figure it out.

Offense (25)

QB (2)

Currently on the roster:

Teddy Bridgewater, Taylor Heinicke, Shaun Hill, Joel Stave

Projection: Bridgewater, Hill

Analysis: I'm not thrilled with the depth behind Bridgewater, and last year they rolled with three QB's coming out of Mankato. For reasons I'll explain when I get to cornerback, I think they only go with two this year, and stash someone on the practice squad again. Of those two,  I think Joel Stave might have a real sho--OH MY OHIO STATE JUST SCORED AGAIN...never mind, Stave has no shot.

RB (3)

Currently on the roster:

Matt Asiata, Jerick McKinnon, Adrian Peterson, Jhurrell Pressley, Brandon Ross

Projection: Peterson, McKinnon, Asiata.

Analysis: This seems like a pretty cut and dried position group. Unless Pressely or Ross absolutely blow it up they're not going to beat out Asiata. And even if they do, and the argument could be made Asiata was outplayed by guys in past training camps, and he still made the roster. The best I think Messrs Pressley and Ross can hope for is a practice squad slot.

FB (1)

Currently on the roster:

Zach Line, Blake Renaud

Projection: Line

Analysis: Zach Line did well as a lead blocker and occasional rusher/pass catcher, and seems entrenched as the Vikings fullback.

WR (6)

Currently on the roster:

Moritz Boehringer, Stefon Diggs, Isaac Fruechte, Charles Johnson, Marken Michel, Cordarrelle Patterson, Terrell Sinkfield, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Jarius Wright

Projection: Treadwell, Diggs, Wright, Patterson, Johnson, Thielen

Analysis: Lost in the excitement of the Boehringer pick is the fact that the Vikings wide receivers from last year remain unchanged, with the exception of the Mike Wallace departure. And in his place, the Vikings used their first round pick on Treadwell, so yeah...I don't see a lot of room for change here other than Treadwell for Wallace. People like to think that the Vikings will just cut Patterson, which I think is foolish simply because he brings value as a kick returner, if nothing else. He also seems to have re-dedicated himself, and if that's true I don't see anyway someone other than The Usual Suspects plus Treadwell cracks this top six. As for MoBo? I would love it if he can make the practice squad, but the active roster seems like one heck of a tall order.

TE (4)

Currently on the roster:

Kyle Carter, Rhett Ellison, Brian Leonhardt, David Morgan, Mycole Pruitt, Kyle Rudolph

Projection: Rudolph, Ellison, Pruitt, Morgan

Analysis: With Chase Ford gone there's a spot open if the Vikings decide to keep four TE's again this season. I give the edge to Morgan, simply because with all things being equal, the Vikings tend to favor their draft picks over free agents. But Leonhardt will be given a fair shot, to be sure.

OL (9)

Currently on the roster:

C--Nick Easton Zac Kerin, John Sullivan
G--Joe Berger, Alex Boone, Brandon Fusco, Mike Harris
T--Willie Beavers, Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt, Andre Smith
OL--T.J. Clemmings, Austin Shepherd, Jeremiah Sirles

Projection: Sullivan, Boone, Fusco, Kalil, Smith, Loadholt, Clemmings, Harris, Berger

Analysis: It feels like the starters are going to be from L to R Kalil, Boone, Sullivan, Fusco, and either Smith or Loadholt. That gives the Vikings a backup tackle in Clemmings (former starter), a backup guard in Harris (former starter), and Joe Berger (former starter) can go back to his 'super sub' role and fill C, G, or T. As for Beavers, the Vikings fourth round pick, barring a really incredible training camp he feels like a practice squad guy this year, who competes for a roster spot next year.

Defense (25)

DE (5)

Currently on the roster:

Scott Crichton, B.J. Dubose, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Zach Moore, Brian Robison, Justin Trattou

Projection: Griffen, Robison, Hunter, Crichton, Trattou

Analysis: With the Vikings not addressing this position group in free agency or the draft, the five players on the roster from last year are the odds on favorite to return. You could talk me in to Scott Crichton being overtaken by someone, but until someone emerges, I'm going to stick with him.

DT (4)

Currently on the roster:

Theiren Cockran, Kenrick Ellis, Isame Faciane, Shariff Floyd, Toby Johnson, Tom Johnson, Linval Joseph, Shamar Stephen

Projection: Floyd, Joseph, Tom Johnson, Stephen

Analysis: The top three seemed about as set in stone as any position group on the Vikings. You could talk me into Faciane over Stephen, but I think there might be a spot open for the fourth DT.

LB (6)

Currently on the roster: Anthony Barr, ZOMG AUDIE COLE WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!, Jake Ganus, Chad Greenway, Eric Kendricks, Edmond Robinson, Brandon Watts, Kentrell Brothers, Emmanuel Lamur, Travis Lewis, Stephen Weatherly

Projection: Barr, Cole, Greenway, Lamur, Kendricks, Watts or Brothers

Analysis: The first five spots seem pretty safe to project, with the caveat that Audie Cole comes back healthy. If he's not, it will open up a spot for someone, but I think the Vikings signed and drafted extra guys at this position hedging their bets on Cole, to some extent.

CB (6)

Currently on the roster:

Mackensie Alexander, Keith Baxter, Captain Munnerlyn, Terence Newman, Jabari Price, Eric Rawls, Xavier Rhodes, Marcus Sherels, Trae Waynes

Projection: Rhodes, Newman, Munnerlyn, Waynes, Alexander...Sherels

Analysis: Here's my dilemma. The Vikings continue to bring in talent here, so every year we love to predict the demise of Marcus Sherels. 'Sherels Watch' has become an annual Mankato tradition, as much as Tav and the Ave and post practice autograph sessions. I have said that I will never bet against Sherels again, but if the Vikings only carry five CB's like they did last year...please, tell me, who will he beat out? I don't think he will beat out any of the five guys I projected based on CB talent alone, but he's going to make the roster, because it's Marcus Sherels. Remember kids, the three things that survive the Nuclear Apocalypse will be cockroaches, Twinkies, and Sherels (H/T Fearless Leader). So, instead of five corners, the Vikings are going to carry six, because Sherels' punt returning ability is too good to get rid of. That means one of a few things will happen:

1. One of these guys will move to safety, like Newman.

2. The Vikings will only carry two quarterbacks. Adios, Heinicke. And this is what I projected earlier.

3. They only go with three tight ends. That means Morgan goes to the practice squad.

Until they actually move one of these guys to safety, I'm going to go with the 2 QB option. Because Marcus Sherels lives, people. Don't doubt me. And don't doubt him.

S (4)

Currently on the roster:

Antone Exum Jr., Anthony Harris, Jayron Kearse, Andrew Sendejo, Harrison Smith, Michael Griffin

Projection: Smith, Griffin, Sendejo, Harris

Analysis: It's a bit unsettling to me the Vikings only did a minimal upgrade at safety during the off season. I think the opening day starters will be Griffin and Smith, Sendejo as the primary backup, and then Harris, who I really liked when he was on the field. As to Jayron Kearse, I think the Vikings got a real value pick in him, and I'd love to see him make some noise in Mankato. Seems like a steep hill for him to climb, so I think he seems more of a practice squad guy this year.

Special Teams (3)

Currently on the roster:

K--Blair Walsh

LS--Kevin McDermott

P--Jeff Locke

Projection: K--Blair Walsh, LS--Kevin McDermott. P--Jeff Locke*

Analysis: Walsh and McDermott are locks, as they are the only kicker and long snapper on the roster, and I've not read anything about other kickers or long snappers being invited to camp. However, West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole (along with a kid from NDSU) have been invited to camp, and O'Toole has a big leg. He also has an epic, Rollie Fingers-like handlebar mustache. Although I won't project someone to win a job who isn't even officially on the roster, Locke has been underwhelming and needs some serious competition. Right now, today, I would sign O'Toole's mustache to a five year contract, and then slap the franchise tag on it when the contract was up. O'Toole is the guy I am rooting for to win a job in Mankato, not because of the facial hair, but because he's a good punter, and Jeff Locke isn't.