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Projecting The Minnesota Vikings’ Starters

Yes, it’s early, but what else do we have to do?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers Adam Wesley-USA TODAY Sports

We’re still a little more than two months from the start of Training Camp for the Minnesota Vikings, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start taking a look at who will likely be starting for this team when the 2017 regular season starts. Ben Goessling of ESPN has his projections. . .and they’re not even behind the great E$PN paywall. . .so let’s take a look at them and see if there’s any disagreement.

Starting on the offensive side of the ball, Goessling has the following starters. This is based on a 1 running back/1 tight end/3 wide receiver setup.

  • QB: Sam Bradford
  • RB: Latavius Murray
  • TE: Kyle Rudolph
  • WR: Stefon Diggs
  • WR: Adam Thielen
  • WR: Laquon Treadwell
  • LT: Riley Reiff
  • LG: Alex Boone
  • C: Pat Elflein
  • RG: Joe Berger
  • RT: Mike Remmers

There’s not a whole lot of controversy to be had here. I can understand that people are likely surprised that Dalvin Cook isn’t listed as the starter at running back over Murray, but since Murray’s the veteran, he’s likely going to get the first crack at it. If you’ll recall, in Adrian Peterson’s rookie season, Chester Taylor was actually listed as the Vikings’ starting running back for the first few games of the year. That didn’t last long, and I wouldn’t expect Murray being the “starter” over Cook to last very long either.

Goessling has Laquon Treadwell in the third wide receiver spot, and it sounds like it’s almost by default. The team recently signed Michael Floyd, but he likely won’t be available for at least the first couple of games of 2017. The team also has Jarius Wright (if they remember he’s actually on the roster) as well as rookies Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley. But, with Treadwell needing to come up big after a flop of a rookie campaign, he’ll likely get the first shot at it.

The big shift, as expected, comes on the offensive line, where the Vikings will have four new starters. . .well, three new starters and four guys playing different position. The only player that will remain status quo will be left guard Alex Boone. Joe Berger, who started last season at center, is projected to kick out to right guard and yield the center spot to rookie Pat Elflein. The Vikings have said that they’ll be keeping Elflein in the pivot, so that move would make sense and allow the Vikings to get their five best offensive linemen (at least on paper) on the field together in the best way possible.

Now, on to the defensive side of the ball. This projection is for the “base” defense, which is four defensive linemen, three linebackers, and four defensive backs.

  • DE: Everson Griffen
  • DT: Linval Joseph
  • DT: Datone Jones
  • DE: Danielle Hunter
  • OLB: Anthony Barr
  • MLB: Eric Kendricks
  • OLB: Kentrell Brothers
  • CB: Xavier Rhodes
  • S: Harrison Smith
  • S: Andrew Sendejo
  • CB: Trae Waynes

Goessling has Jones immediately stepping into the breach at defensive tackle in the wake of Sharrif Floyd’s injury problems. Jones may have been a bit miscast as a 3-4 end in Green Bay, and hopefully he can make the transition with no issues. He’s on a one-year deal, so he’s playing for his next job, whether it’s in Minnesota or somewhere else. I’d also expect Jaleel Johnson to be a contributor early on as well. Goessling has Brian Robison ceding the starting defensive end spot to Hunter, which makes sense. It should be fun watching Hunter raise hell with a full complement of snaps.

At the linebacker spot, there’s a bit of a surprise with Kentrell Brothers starting on the outside. Brothers has always struck me as a two-down inside type, so I’m a little surprised that the Vikings might consider him on the outside. Just between us, I’d actually expect Edmond Robinson to get the first chance to take Chad Greenway’s old job at weakside linebacker. I think the team likes him a lot and that he has more of an ability to play on the outside than Brothers or Ben Gedeon might have.

A mild upset has Trae Waynes starting across from Xavier Rhodes at corner. Terence Newman is back with the Vikings, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him in a nickel role or even getting some run at safety. Waynes is entering his third season, and he needs to start stepping up at some point. Hopefully this year can be the year.

Last, but not least. . .particularly after what we saw last season. . .we have the special teams.

  • K: Kai Forbath
  • P: Ryan Quigley
  • KR: Rodney Adams
  • PR: Marcus Sherels

It appears that Goessling, like us, has learned the three universal truths:

  1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia
  2. Never face a Sicilian when death is on the line
  3. Stop predicting that Marcus Sherels is going to lose his job

So that’s good. As far as the other positions, We have the rookie Adams sticking as the kick returner, a role that he could potentially excel in. Both Forbath and Quigley will face competition in Training Camp (from Marshall Koehn and Taylor Symmank, respectively). I’d be surprised if Koehn beat out Forbath. . .I would not be surprised if Symmank beat out Quigley.

But, that’s a look at one projected starting lineup for your Minnesota Vikings going into the 2017 NFL season. Do you have an issue with any of those projections?