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Minnesota Vikings Training Camp: 53 man roster prediction

With the second preseason game almost upon us, the roster is starting to come in to focus.

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

With the second preseason game coming up on Sunday, things seem to be taking shape for the Minnesota Vikings roster. Our own Eric Thompson has covered every single afternoon practice, and I highly recommend you read his reports from each day, or as I like to call them, the ‘Dispatches From The Front.’

Based on the first preseason game and how things have progressed in camp, let’s try and predict how the Vikings 53 man roster will shake out once the regular season gets underway.

Offense (25)

QB (3):

In: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion, Kyle Sloter

Out: Jake Browning

Rationale: This seems pretty cut and dried. Browning hasn’t had a bad camp, but neither have Mannion or Sloter. I think Browning might be a great candidate for the practice squad, though, if he can slip through the waiver wire.

RB (4):

In: Ameer Abdullah, Mike Boone, Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison

Out: De’Angelo Henderson

Rationale: Normally, I’d only go with three backs here, but last year the Vikings carried five on the roster, so it’s not unheard of. And with the dearth of talent at the back end of the wide receiver depth chart, it makes a lot of sense to carry a fourth back.

FB (1):

In: Khari Blasingame

Out: C.J. Ham

Rationale: There’s always at least one surprise cut every year, and this is my surprise cut. If Ham beats out Blasingame, expect the VIkings to try and get Blasingame on the practice squad. I don’t think he’d make it through waivers, though, which is why the Vikings go with Blasingame and cut Ham.

TE (4):

In: Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith, Jr., Tyler Conklin, David Morgan

Out: Brandon Dillon, Cole Hikituni

Rationale: The only question for this group is when will Morgan be ready? If he’s a no-go for week one, is it a week to week thing, or will they need to PUP him? If they PUP him, do they just go with three? If they want to keep a fourth, then the battle between Hikituni and Dillon is still close.

WR (4):

In: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson

Out: Laquon Treadwell, Jeff Badet, Davion Davis, Alexander Hollins, Dillon Mitchell, Jordan Taylor, Brandon Zylstra

Rationale: None of the guys outside the four I have making the roster have done enough to stick around, which is why I I’m only going with four. With Mattison and Smith looking like big contributors to the offense, combined with the two tight end heavy formations the Vikings are probably going to favor, this makes sense to me. Could the Vikings go with five, and sign a free agent that gets cut from another team? Yes, that’s a distinct possibility.

OL (9):

In: Riley Reiff, Pat Elflein, Garrett Bradbury, Josh Kline, Brian O’Neill, Brett Jones, Dru Samia, Storm Norton, Aviante Collins

Out: Nate Wozniak, John Keenoy, Cornelius Edison, Dakota Dozier, Danny Isidora, Rashod Hill, Uli Udoh

Rationale: Right now I have nine spots for the OL, and versatility is the key for the backup guys. Jones can play center and guard, Norton will be the swing tackle, and Collins can play both guard and tackle. Samia is a guard, but the dude is a mauler, and if Kline slips, Samia is going to step in.

Rashod Hill has been getting worked over both in practice and in the first game, and I think he’s coming to the end of the road. Danny Isidora really needed to have a strong camp, and he hasn’t stood out enough to make it. Uli Udoh is going to the practice squad, and next year he’s going to be in the mix for a roster spot.

Defense (25)

DL (9):

In: Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Stephen Weatherly, Linval Joseph, Shamar Stephen, Jalyn Holmes, Hercules Mata’afa, Jaleel Johnson

Out: Karter Schutt, Stacy Keely, Tashawn Bower, Curtis Cothran, Armon Watts

Rationale: I’m going with Jaleel Johnson mostly because he’s the vet here, and he hasn’t done anything to really lose a roster spot. Holmes, Odenigbo, and Mata’afa have all earned their roster spots this year, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bower either put on IR or IR-Return to begin the season.

LB (6):

In: Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Ben Gedeon, Kentrell Brothers, Cameron Smith, Eric Wilson

Out: Devante Downs, Reshard Cliett, Greer Martini

Rationale: Although the Vikings have Downs ahead of Smith on the depth chart, Smith seems to be having the stronger camp and got a long look against the Saints. He’s also a rookie fourth round pick, and the Vikings tend to take early round picks over other guys, like they did with Jalyn Holmes last year, for example.

CB (6):

In: Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Kris Boyd, Craig James, Veteran Free Agent/Nate Meadors, (Mike Hughes), (Holton Hill)

Out: Bene Benwikere, Duke Thomas, Nate Meadors

Rationale: I have two guys in parenthesis, Hill and Hughes, while Nate Meadors is both on the roster and cut. Let me explain. I don’t believe Hughes will be ready to start the season, and will go on the PUP list, and Hill will be suspended eight games. Neither of those guys will count against the 53 man roster, so the Vikings will need to backfill two spots. I think Kris Boyd is playing himself on to the roster free and clear, but James will be the guy they keep to fill a roster spot assuming Hughes can’t go. If the Vikings stay in house for the last temp job, I think they keep Meadors, but if they scan the waiver wire for a CB, Meadors is gone. If Hughes is healthy, let’s go with Rhodes/Waynes/Mac/Hughes/Boyd/James/ Free Agent. If you want to swap out James with Meadors, fine, have at it.

S (4):

In: Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris, Jayron Kearse, Derron Smith

Out: Isaiah Wharton, Marcus Epps

Rationale: The top three are set, and barring a reversal of fortune, Smith is going to beat out Wharton and Epps.

Special Teams (3)

In: Austin Cutting (LS), Kaare Vedvik (K), Matt Wile, (P)

Holder: LOL your guess is as good as mine. Beebe? Sure, let’s go with Beebe (counted as a WR, but worth mentioning here because of the 75 guys that they’re tried out as a holder so far).

Out: Dan Bailey

Rationale: I could go either way with Vedvik as the punter, or Vedvik as the kicker. I liked the theory I saw floated the other day that has Vedvik punt this year, have Bailey kick and play out his contract, then slide Vedvik into the kicking job next year. That said, I still think they brought Vedvik in to kick, not punt, and ultimately, he wins the job and they release Bailey.

Also, just fix the damn special teams. The fact we’re talking about them this much is more unsettling than my stomach after eating spicy Indian food.