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Thoughts on the Vikings roster

Changes are still coming, but let’s discuss some things

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday was cutdown day in the NFL, and the Minnesota Vikings had to get down to 53 players. In so doing, they made some surprise moves, got some good news on the injury front, hired a coach, and we said goodbye to an icon. There are still moves to make, so this 53 man roster isn’t what will take the field against San Francisco, but it’s pretty close.

Let’s take a position by position look.

QB: Kirk Cousins, Trevor Siemian, Kyle Sloter. No surprises here. There was some late chatter that the Vikings might only go with two QB’s because they were so deep elsewhere, and when Sloter significantly outplayed Siemian in the preseason this could have been interesting. The Vikings gave up a fifth round pick for Siemian, and he will remain the backup, though. With the way Sloter played I don’t know that he makes it through waivers to get back to the practice squad, so the Vikings kept him, which is a move I really like.

Running Back: Mike Boone, Dalvin Cook, C.J. Ham, Latavius Murray, Roc Thomas. Most folks thought the Vikings would only go with three running backs and a fullback, and the consensus was that Mike Boone had beaten out Roc Thomas for the RB3 job in a close battle. But both Boone and Thomas made the squad, and the Vikes will roll with 4 running backs and Ham as the fullback for now. My guess is that Minnesota wants to put Thomas on the practice squad, but don’t think he’ll make it through waivers.

Don’t discount the possibility of a trade here, either, and don’t rule out Latavius Murray being the guy traded. I think that’s somewhat remote, but Murray has the most trade value of the guys not named Dalvin Cook, and Cook isn’t getting traded. The one last option I could see is putting Thomas on IR. He hurt his ankle in the preseason finale, so if it’s bad enough the Vikes could stash him on the roster and bring him back next year.

Tight Ends: Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan, Tyler Conklin. No real surprises here. Blake Bell made a push, but when you’re a fifth round pick and have a fair amount of upside like Conklin does, you’re going to make the roster.

Wide Receiver: Stacy Coley, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Brandon Zylstra. There were a couple mild surprises here. For one, the Vikings went with five WR’s, not six. That’s not a huge deal, but there was the possibility of them going with six. Stacy Coley seemed to have a leg up on the other guys, so he’s not really a shocker. Although Kendall Wright hadn’t done much of anything, I thought his past production and veteran status would get him a roster spot, but it didn’t. Brandon Zysltra (hey do you know he’s undrafted and is from Minnesota?) beat out Chad Beebe and Jake Wieneke, while Cayleb Jones self eliminated earlier in the week. Beebe seems like an excellent practice squad candidate, so we’ll see what happens with waiver claims and such today.

Offensive Line: Aviante Collins, Tom Compton, Pat Elflein, Rashod Hill, Danny Isidora, Brett Jones, Brian O’Neill, Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers. First, the good news. C Pat Elflein was activated off the PUP list, and will begin practicing. That made ‘Yukon’ Cornelius Edison (gonna miss that nickname, not even gonna lie kids) expendable, and he was the last player cut to get to 53. I kind of thought he had played his way on to the roster, but when you combine Elflein coming off the PUP with the trade for Brett Jones, Edison got caught up in a numbers game, although I think a spot on the practice squad is his if he makes it through waivers.

The Vikings haven’t said what Elflein’s status will be for the 49ers game, but hopefully he’ll only miss a game or two. So if the Vikes are going to go with a line (L to R) of Reiff, Jones, Elflein, Remmers, Hill/O’Neill...I say let’s roll. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more roster shuffling here as the Vikings try to get some more depth, via a trade or waiver wire claims. Compton, Isidora, and Collins were underwhelming this summer, and I’d be surprised if Minnesota doesn’t try to upgrade.

Defensive End: Tashawn Bower, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Stephen Weatherly. The huge surprise here is that the Vikings released longtime vet Brian Robison in a move very few folks saw coming. Robison had lost a step, but was still effective as a situational rusher, and had transitioned to a hybrid tackle/end that stood up along the line. On the one hand, it just utterly blows to see his career in Minnesota come to a definitive end and not see him go out on top. On the other, it says something about the talent and depth when a still-talented vet like Robison is let go, so I have really conflicted feelings about the move.

Defensive Tackle: Jalyn Holmes, Jaleel Johnson, Linval Joseph, David Parry, Sheldon Richardson. For me, if there’s a surprise cut along the defensive line besides Robison, it would be Ifeadi Odenigbo. Odenigbo had been asked to switch to DT in the off-season, but he also went back and played DE during the preseason, and played well. I thought that versatility, along with his play, had been parlayed in to a roster spot. He had outplayed Jalyn Holmes, who had been battling nagging injuries. But like Conklin, a mid round pick holds sway so Holmes is in. Hopefully Odenigbo can make it back to the Vikings practice squad as I think he’s flashed some real talent, and can play both DT and DE.

Linebacker: Anthony Barr, Devante Downs, Ben Gedeon, Eric Kendricks, Eric Wilson, Kentrell Brothers (does not count towards 53, suspended). Eric Wilson making the roster was nice to see, as he just stood out all summer. Antwione WIlliams also played well, and I thought he might have made it as a special teams player. I think Williams is a prime candidate for the practice squad, so we’ll see where he lands.

Cornerback: Mackensie Alexander, Holton Hill, Mike Hughes, Xavier Rhodes, Marcus Sherels, Trae Waynes. The big news for this group was the retirement of Terence Newman, who was then named a defensive backs coach on the Vikings staff. It was a surprising move, because I kind of thought the Vikes were going to move him between CB and safety, which they experimented with a little bit during camp. But with the signing of George Iloka, that was no longer a thing. It also means that Holton Hill secured a spot on the roster, which I really like, and finally. it means first round pick Mike Hughes is going to get a lot of playing time. And I really like that. Wait...I LIKE THAT I think is how the law says that phrase needs to be used when Granitejaw McDreamy is the QB.

Also, all you Marcus Sherels do you like him now? In all seriousness, word broke yesterday that the Vikes have been shopping Alexander and Sherels, so we’ll see if those rumors have any legs. If they are legit, I would think it would be for o-line depth or a mid round pick (maybe both if they call Oakland haha), but that’s just me.

Safety: Anthony Harris, George Iloka, Jayron Kearse, Andrew Sendejo, Harrison Smith. Before the Newman retirement, I only saw the Vikes going with four safeties and Kearse being the odd man out. But Newman’s retirement allows the Vikings to keep five, and Kearse will continue to be a big contributor on special teams. I still really love the Iloka signing, and I think this group will be really, really good.

Special Teams: K Daniel Carlson, P Ryan Quigley, LS Kevin McDermott. No surprises here, and rookie Daniel Carlson calmed some nerves on Thursday by going 2-2 in his field goal attempts against the Titans.

Although the Vikings still probably make a few more moves and still assemble the practice squad, there really weren’t a lot of surprises. As currently constructed, Minnesota has the sixth youngest roster in the NFL, and youngest in the NFC North. It’s one that has talent and depth everywhere, and my only concern is depth at o-line, which I think will be addressed before week one.