When the end of training camp arrives next month, and rosters get cut from 90 players down to 53, there always seems to be a surprise cut or two that runs several levels of emotion:
Lowest: ‘Oh, wow. That was a surprise. I thought he played well enough to make the team.’ Generally applies to a late round pick or undrafted free agent that played well and generally impressed, but just couldn’t make it on the 53 man roster.
Middle: Really?! ‘I mean yeah he got outplayed in camp and the pre-season, but I still didn’t see this one coming.’ I call this the Alex Boone level.
Highest: ‘WHAT? Holy crap! I can’t BELIEVE that one. This sucks.’ This is the Brain Robison level.
Let’s take a look at some players that might be surprise cuts by the end of camp. Now, I’m not saying they will be cut, but their roster spots aren’t 100% guaranteed, either, like Kirk Cousins or Harrison Smith are, for example.
Brett Jones, C: I think Jones makes the final 53, but for once, it appears that the Vikings have more talent on the offensive line than roster spots. The Vikings traded for Jones last year when it became apparent then-starting center Pat Elflein wouldn’t be ready for the regular season, and he played well enough early on. But once Elflein came back, Jones rode the bench and didn’t see the field again. The weird thing is he has experience playing guard, yet the Vikes never put him to replace a struggling Tom Compton and Mike Remmers.
There are still a lot of unknowns with the offensive line, so the chances of Jones getting the axe seem like a longshot. Still, Cornelius Edison played well during the preseason last year, and if he can repeat that, things could change.
Kyle Sloter, QB: If the Vikings go with three QB’s, Sloter is on the final 53. I don’t see Jake Browning beating him out, and if Sloter can’t beat out Trevor Siemian for the backup job, I don’t think he’ll beat out Sean Mannion. However, if the Vikings only go with two QB’s, Sloter is gone.
Laquon Treadwell, WR: There are a lot of questions behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and after three unremarkable years it doesn’t appear Treadwell has been an answer to any of them. If guys like Brandon Zylstra, Chad Beebe, or Olabisi Johnson step up, Treadwell could be shown the door.
Defense and Special Teams:
Jaleel Johnson, DT: When Johnson was drafted in 2017, he was an exciting prospect, and under the tutelage of DL Coach Andre Patterson, it was thought Johnson would blossom quickly. After two years, he has yet to really stand out, and with all the talent on the defensive line, another lackluster camp and preseason could really put Johnson on the cut line.
Kevin McDermott, LS: Look, you don’t draft a long snapper from a Service Academy and lobby the Air Force to get him a modified commitment to his active duty service to not keep him on the roster. And you don’t keep two long snappers on the roster.
Holton Hill, CB: Now that Hill’s four game suspension has become eight games, and he was an undrafted free agent last year, this could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back for Hill. He went from a mid round pick to not being drafted because of off the field issues last year, and this latest mess doesn’t help his case. If a guy like, say, Kris Boyd performs well in camp, Hill could be in serious trouble.
None of these reach the Brian Robison level of surprise or shock. Honestly, I’m having a hard time coming up with one of those kind of surprises, and I don’t see something like that this year.
Then again, I didn’t see Robison getting cut last year, either.