By this time tomorrow, the Minnesota Vikings’ 53-man roster will officially be set. The deadline for the team to trim the roster from 90. . .or, effectively, 88, given the suspensions of Cayleb Jones and Kentrell Brothers. . .is 3:00 PM Central on Saturday. We’ll be keeping track of all the moves the team makes between now and then.
We’ve had a couple of 53-man roster projections from some of our other writers, and I wanted to take a stab at one myself because hey. . .why not, right? The Vikings have a ton of talent, and it’s going to be interesting to see what they do with it all, so I’ll go ahead and give it my best shot.
Special Teams (3)
Long Snapper (1)
Nailed it! Moving on.
(Now watch the Vikings go after a different punter just to spite me. Ah, well. . .if it happens, it happens.)
Offense (25 + 1)
In - Kirk Cousins (starter), Trevor Siemian, Kyle Sloter
Out - Peter Pujals
The only drama here. . .such as it is. . .is whether or not the team bites the bullet with Siemian and elevates Sloter to the backup position. The team did give up draft capital for Siemian to be Cousins’ primary backup, but he’s been pretty bad this preseason. I think that, given recent history, the Vikings would be more comfortable with three quarterbacks, so Siemian stays.
Running Backs (4)
In - Dalvin Cook (starter), Mike Boone, C.J. Ham, Latavius Murray
Out - Mack Brown, Kobe McCrary, Luke McNitt, Roc Thomas
The battle for RB3 was supposed to come down to the final preseason game, but when Thomas left with an injury, Boone took over and appeared to solidify things. If the Vikings do roll with three running backs, I think Boone is pretty clearly the guy. Also, I know that C.J. Ham is technically the fullback here, but I don’t know how much the Vikings are going to use him in that role this season. John DeFilippo apparently loves him, though.
Wide Receivers (5 + 1)
In - Stefon Diggs (starter), Adam Thielen (starter), Laquon Treadwell, Kendall Wright, Brandon Zylstra, Cayleb Jones (starts season under suspension)
Out - Jeff Badet, Chad Beebe, Stacy Coley, Tavarres King, Korey Robertson, Jake Wieneke
In efforts to shore things up at other places, the Vikings might have to short themselves at wide receiver. I think they saw enough out of Zylstra in camp that they like that, despite his injury issues, he’s made a spot on the roster. Jones starts the season on the suspended list, but I don’t think it would hurt anyone’s feelings if they were to just outright cut him now and not even deal with it. If the Vikings do roster a sixth receiver, I think that Beebe has the inside track for the spot, but there are several solid practice squad candidates here.
Tight ends (3)
In - Kyle Rudolph (starter), Blake Bell, David Morgan
Out - Tyler Conklin, Tyler Hoppes
For the second year in a row, I think that the Vikings are going to cut a tight end that they took a late round flyer on and wound up not showing much in camp. Last year it was Bucky Hodges, and this year it’s Tyler Conklin. I had high hopes for Conklin to be a complement to Rudolph in the pass game, but he just really hasn’t shown much this preseason. I don’t think they keep him over Bell, but I could end up being wrong on that. If they think enough of C.J. Ham as a potential H-back type, they could just go with Rudolph and Morgan and cut Bell, too, but I’d be pretty shocked by that.
Offensive Line (10)
In - Riley Reiff (starter), Brett Jones (starter), Pat Elflein (starter. . .technically), Cornelius Edison (starter while Elflein is out), Mike Remmers (starter), Rashod Hill (starter), Aviante Collins, Tom Compton, Danny Isidora, Brian O’Neill
Out - Josh Andrews, Kareem Are, Colby Gossett, Kaleb Johnson, Dieugot Joseph, Storm Norton, J.P. Quinn
The big question here is going to end up being what the Vikings do with Pat Elflein. Mike Zimmer said that he didn’t expect Elflein to start on the PUP List, but the team hasn’t made a move to take him off there yet, and if they don’t do so before the roster deadline then Elflein is out for the first six games. I’m not sure how the interior is going to look without Elflein there. Cornelius Edison didn’t play in the preseason finale, which would seem to point to him being the starter. Isidora got a long look at center, and Jones could obviously fill that spot, too. The team is going to have to make sure they have bodies here, which is why they’re short at the wide receiver spot in my projection. Of the guys that I have making the team, I think that Compton is probably in the most danger of being left out.
Defense (25 + 1)
Defensive end (5)
In - Everson Griffen (starter), Danielle Hunter (starter), Tashawn Bower, Brian Robison, Stephen Weatherly
Out - Jonathan Wynn
Honestly, the process of trying to cut players from this defense is just painful at every position. Weatherly and Bower have both had strong preseasons, and I’d have a hard time envisioning the team cutting Robison after what he did to commit to a return. Could one of these guys be trade bait? I guess they could be. . .but man, I just don’t know. I’m glad I’m not the person that has to make these decisions.
Defensive tackle (4)
In - Linval Joseph (starter), Sheldon Richardson (starter), Jaleel Johnson, Ifeadi Odenigbo
Out - Curtis Cothran, Jalyn Holmes, David Parry
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! Man, I don’t want to lose Jalyn Holmes or anything, but honestly Odenigbo has been good enough, both on the interior and on the edge this preseason, to merit inclusion on this roster. Odenigbo’s ability to play all the spots on the line gives him an advantage, too.
Linebackers (5 + 1)
In - Anthony Barr (starter), Ben Gedeon (starter in base), Eric Kendricks (starter), Reshard Cliett, Eric Wilson, Kentrell Brothers (starts season under suspension)
Out - Garret Dooley, Devante Downs, Mike Needham, Brett Taylor, Antoine Williams
The last linebacker spot is going to be a three-way tussle between Cliett, Downs, and Williams, in my opinion. Out of those three, I think that Cliett has done the most to merit a spot. He could be a very good special teamer, and put up enough of a solid performance in the preseason finale to make him my favorite for LB5 as things stand right now. None of those three guys would surprise me as the final linebacker, though. Again, in order to shore up other spots, this is the one position on defense the Vikings can probably short themselves at a bit.
In - Xavier Rhodes (starter), Trae Waynes (starter), Mackensie Alexander, Holton Hill, Mike Hughes, Terence Newman, Marcus Sherels
Out - Craig James, Trevon Mathis, Horace Richardson, Jack Tocho
Is seven cornerbacks a lot? Sure it is. But, honestly. . .who do you cut here? I mean, I guess the obvious answer would be Hill if you thought he was a lock to get to the practice squad, but I’m honestly not sure that he is. As we’ve mentioned, both Alexander and Sherels have apparently been mentioned in trade talks, so that could always be an option. But man, this team has such an embarrassment of riches at this position that it’s difficult to definitively state who should be in or out. I guess Sherels would be a candidate, too, if the Vikings thought they could replace his return skills with someone at another position. But, you know, we all know better than to project Sherels to be cut at this point, don’t we?
In - Andrew Sendejo (starter), Harrison Smith (starter), Anthony Harris, George Iloka
Out - Jayron Kearse, Tray Matthews
Iloka’s versatility is another reason that the Vikings might be able to leave themselves a bit short at linebacker, since it appears that they’re using him as a sort of a linebacker/safety hybrid. Both Harris and Kearse have been very good special teams players in their Vikings’ careers, but if I have to pick one over the other, Harris is a relatively easy choice.
So, those are my 53. Obviously I’m not projecting trades to acquire players (as opposed to shipping out someone for draft picks), and there are probably a couple of players that will make the 53 that are currently on other teams.
Practice squad projection (Vikings cuts only)
- WR Chad Beebe
- TE Tyler Conklin
- LB Devante Downs
- OL Colby Gossett
- DL Jalyn Holmes
- S Tray Matthews
- OL Storm Norton
- RB Roc Thomas
- CB Jack Tocho
- WR Jake Wieneke
Like the 53-man roster, I’m guessing that the practice squad won’t be exclusively guys that the Vikings cut. I think they could probably find a better OL prospect than Norton, to be honest.
So, that’s my final 53-man roster projection, ladies and gentlemen. By this time tomorrow, we’ll see how close all of us are on these.