The moment when your company hires an intern that has the same basic job functions as yours.
The moment when your buddies and the new guy in the group post a Snap at the new hot spot...and nobody called you.
The moment when she tells you that “you don’t need to worry about him.”
We have all been there. No matter what they tell you after the fact, nothing is “fine.” It’s a very clear sign that you better step your game up or else you’re going to get replaced.
For several current Minnesota Vikings, that moment just happened over the weekend. The Vikings drafted eleven players throughout the three days of the 2017 NFL Draft, and that doesn’t even count all the undrafted free agents the team will bring in over the course of the next few weeks.
Are all the draft picks guaranteed a roster spot? Of course not, especially since nine of the selections were made on the final day of the draft. Everyone on a Mike Zimmer team has to earn their spot regardless of status or position. (See also: Treadwell, Laquon.) But there are still only 53 roster spots when all is said and done; at least a handful of the new guys are going to occupy some of those spots. It’s a numbers game that always leaves lots of odd men out. And even the players that do survive the roster cuts could have their roles significantly reduced or altered by the draftees.
So who might end up on the chopping block or relegated to an afterthought thanks to the new guys? Let’s take a look at which current players should be especially nervous because of each draft pick’s arrival.
Dalvin Cook: Jerick McKinnon
I don’t think Jet is at any risk of not making the roster, but the addition of Cook and Latavius Murray likely means that McKinnon will start Training Camp third on the depth chart at running back. McKinnon had to be envisioning a bigger role with the departures of Adrian Peterson and Matt Asiata. Now he might be finding it hard to get significant playing time in the rotation.
On the back end of the depth chart, C.J. Ham and Bishop Sankey know that making the roster just got that much tougher.
Pat Elflein: Jeremiah Sirles and Nick Easton
Mike Zimmer said the team will probably start Elflein out at center. If that’s the case and Elflein proves himself ready, Joe Berger would likely shift over to the starting right guard spot. That doesn’t bode well for Sirles, who was looking to compete for a starting gig, and Easton, who was looking to build on his playing time from last year. Now both players will likely be further relegated on the depth chart regardless of where Elflein plays.
Jaleel Johnson: Sharrif Floyd and Tom Johnson
The reasoning for listing Floyd here should be as obvious as it is unfortunate. Floyd’s future playing football appears to be in serious jeopardy after complications from a relatively routine surgery last season. But Tom Johnson should be nervous too. First of all, having three defensive tackles with the last name of Johnson on the roster is confusing and ridiculous (remember, the Vikings have Toby Johnson too). Second, Jaleel has a very similar skill set to Tom. Third, Jaleel is ten years younger than Tom. Fourth, there is zero cap hit if the team cuts Tom this year.
The Johnson vs. Johnson (vs. Johnson) defensive tackle battle in Training Camp late this summer should be very intriguing. (And confusing.)
Ben Gedeon: Kentrell Brothers
After putting up big numbers at linebacker at a power five school, Brothers carved out a niche for himself on special teams as a rookie.
After putting up big numbers at linebacker at a power five school, Gedeon is probably going to carve out a niche for himself on special teams as a rookie.
So, isn’t Ben Gedeon just a slightly bigger version of Kentrell Brothers?
Rodney Adams: Moritz Böhringer
Since Adams is pegged as a kick returner, I was going to include Marcus Sherels here. But Adams didn’t do any punt returning in college, and Sherels will be on the Vikings roster long after we’re all dead. You can’t kill him. So instead I went the easy route and chose Moritz.
Like Böhringer, Adams has some great athletic traits but is still considered a project. Adams is more like a weekend project in the backyard; Böhringer is a complete tear-down. It’s going to be tough for the German to find a spot on the depth chart after the team picked up two more receivers in the draft.
Danny Isidora: Willie Beavers
Beavers barely saw the field when nearly the entire O-line was in shambles last year, so it seems like Isidora could easily hurdle him on the depth chart if he shows even the most basic competency.
Bucky Hodges: David Morgan
Hodges and Morgan are very different players. Morgan comes from the Rhett Ellison/Jim Kleinsasser H-back grinder mold; blocking is his specialty. Hodges is a pass-catching, athletic freak, “move” tight end that still needs a lot of work with his blocking. But all the two-TE sets are still going to include Kyle Rudolph, which means Morgan might less of a chance to the field on big packages if Hodges can pick up some of the finer points of blocking.
It also just got that much more difficult for Kyle Carter and Nick Truesdell to make team at all.
Stacy Coley: Jarius Wright
Wright already saw a drastically reduced role in 2016. Coley is a speed merchant that had a lot of success out of the slot at Miami. Wright still has some years left on his deal, but the potential cap hit of $1.68 million for cutting him this year certainly isn’t outlandish. Jarius better get out of the doghouse soon or he’ll be looking for employment elsewhere.
Ifeadi Odenigbo: Everyone at the end of the DL depth chart
Sterling Bailey. B.J. Dubose. Stephen Weatherly. Maybe even Datone Jones and Shamar Stephen. You are officially on notice. Odenigbo has a relentless motor, lots of athleticism, and he has already endeared himself to the media due to an outstanding conference call after getting drafted. If he can get some of his technique cleaned up, Odenigbo could absolutely take the roster spot of any of those players.
Elijah Lee: Emmanuel Lamur and Edmond Robinson
This is a lot like the Gedeon/Brothers face-off. Lee, Lamur, and Robinson all have similar angular builds and do a lot of the same things well. All three figure to be fighting for the rotational snaps vacated by the retirement of Chad Greenway. The addition of Lee could make for quite the Battle Royale in Mankato.
Jack Tocho: Jabari Price and Antone Exum
Tocho is a corner taken in the 7th round out of North Carolina State. He has some good qualities but it will still be an uphill battle to make the final 53 after being drafted.
Price is a corner taken in the 7th round out of North Carolina. He has some good qualities but it has been an uphill battle for him to stay on the team since being drafted.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? As for Exum, there is already talk about moving Tocho to safety, and Exum might have already been cut if he wasn’t placed on Injured Reserve last season. Any addition to the secondary should put him on alert, even in the seventh round.
Those are the position and roster battles I’m looking for each draft pick to initiate in Training Camp this year. Did I miss a better battle? Do you think jobs other than the ones I listed are in jeopardy? Let us know in the comments.