To this point in the preseason, we’ve had both Ted and Warren put together their projections for the Minnesota Vikings’ 53-man roster, which needs to be put together by 3:00 PM Central time on Thursday. I wanted to take a shot at this as well, but I wanted to wait until all the preseason action was officially over and done with. Now that we’re waiting for Saturday, here’s my projection for the team’s 53-man roster, which is actually a 56-man roster because of three players that are either on the PUP List, the NFI List, or looking at a suspension.
Most of this is what I think the Vikings will do, but there are a couple of sprinkles of what I would do, given the opportunity.
In: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion, Kyle Sloter
Out: Jake Browning
The big debate over the past few weeks has been whether or not the Vikings will keep three quarterbacks on the roster. Historically, it appears that teams that Gary Kubiak has been a part of keep three quarterbacks, and the Vikings have done that over the past couple of seasons as well because of various injury issues. Therefore, I think Sloter gets a spot on the roster, even though he’s going to spend a lot of time inactive.
I do think that the Vikings will try to sneak Browning onto the practice squad. Will he get there? We’ll have to wait and see.
Running Back (3)
In: Mike Boone, Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison
Out: Ameer Abdullah, De’Angelo Henderson
This one seems to be pretty clear-cut, at least as far as I can see. Cook and Mattison were obviously locks to make the roster, and Boone made a strong enough case for himself over the course of the preseason that he deserves a spot, too. I think that people will, potentially, cite Abdullah’s special teams contributions as a reason for him to make the roster, but honestly the Vikings have a number of guys that could fill those roles just as well.
In: Khari Blasingame, C.J. Ham
This is one of those “what I want to see” things that’s a part of this projection. I so want to find a spot for Blasingame on this roster, and if the Vikings are going to run a significant number of plays with a fullback, they need to have someone available in case something happens to Ham. I’m not sure if they could sneak Blasingame onto the practice squad, so on my roster, I’m keeping him around.
Wide Receiver (5)
In: Chad Beebe, Stefon Diggs, Bisi Johnson, Adam Thielen, Brandon Zylstra
Out: Jeff Badet, Davion Davis, Alexander Hollins, Dillon Mitchell, Laquon Treadwell
The first four spots on the roster were set when the Vikings had Johnson practicing with the veterans and sitting out of Thursday’s final preseason game. The fifth spot is a bit of a mystery, but I think the team is leaning towards Zylstra. Badet had some nice moments, but injuries kept him out of the final two preseason games, and that’s ultimately going to keep him out. Also, the Laquon Treadwell experiment is over with, and that’s a damn shame.
Also, I clearly backed the wrong seventh-round receiver when I made my Mr. Mankato predictions at the start of camp. Sorry, Bisi.
Tight End (3 + 1)
In: Tyler Conklin, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith, Jr.
PUP: David Morgan
Out: Brandon Dillon, Cole Hikutini
I don’t see the Vikings taking Morgan off of the PUP list before the 3:00 PM Saturday deadline, so he’s going to miss the first six games of the regular season but not count against the roster. Dillon and Hikutini both had decent showings in camp, but I think this is another instance where the Vikings could use Blasingame’s versatility in lieu of a fourth tight end.
Again, I’ll acknowledge that I’m probably going to be wrong on Blasingame making the roster, and if I had to pick between one of the other two tight ends to take a roster spot instead, I’d lean slightly towards Hikutini over Dillon. Your mileage, as always, may vary.
In: Garrett Bradbury, Brett Jones
Out: Cornelius Edison, John Keenoy
Jones is going to be one of the primary backups at the interior positions, and just offers more versatility than either Edison or Keenoy does.
In: Dakota Dozier, Pat Elflein, Josh Klein, Dru Samia
Out: Danny Isidora
I think that Dozier has done enough to stick, as he has the ability to play either tackle or guard (though I don’t know if I’d want him to be at tackle for the long term). Samia is pretty raw, and is likely going to be inactive a lot on Sundays, but there’s no way the Vikings cut him loose. Isidora, who has been with the Vikings for a few seasons now, simply gets squeezed out in the numbers game on this one.
In: Rashod Hill, Brian O’Neill, Riley Reiff, Oli Udoh
Out: Aviante Collins, Storm Norton, Nate Wozniak
If I knew more about what, exactly, to make of Aviante Collins’ injury, I’d probably have him in and Rashod Hill out. I think that the Vikings like Collins a lot, but I have no way of knowing how close he is to making a contribution right now, so I have to err on the side of caution and assume that he’s going to be “out” as a result. I think Udoh has been very impressive this preseason, and like Samia is raw as all get out, but I also don’t think he’d make it to the practice squad if the Vikings let him go.
Defensive End (4 + 1)
In: Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Stephen Weatherly
NFI: Tashawn Bower
Out: Ade Aruna, Stacy Keely, Anree Saint-Amour, Karter Schult
Odenigbo’s strong showing and ability to play either inside or on the edge gets him the roster spot that he probably should have gotten last season. I’m a bit bummed out about Aruna, who tore his ACL last preseason and didn’t really practice with the team at all during camp, from most accounts. I’d like to see him get an opportunity, but he doesn’t seem to be ready to go yet. I’d like to see Schult on the practice squad, too.
Defensive Tackle (5)
In: Jalyn Holmes, Linval Joseph, Hercules Mata’afa, Shamar Stephen, Armon Watts
Out: Curtis Cothran, Jaleel Johnson, Tito Odenigbo
It feels weird to have Jaleel Johnson on the “out” list, but here we are. I just think that Watts had a more impressive showing this preseason than Johnson, who never really got any traction, even after a couple of years of being on the team. Holmes, like Ifeadi Odenigbo, can play inside or on the edge, but he’s listed as a defensive tackle.
In: Anthony Barr, Devante Downs, Ben Gedeon, Eric Kendricks, Cameron Smith, Eric Wilson
Out: Kentrell Brothers, Reshard Cliett, Greer Martini
The top four linebackers (Barr, Gedeon, Kendricks, and Wilson) are all likely to be a part of the base defense at some point during the season. The other two spots, in my opinion, come down to special teams, and I think the Vikings might favor the relative youth of guys like Downs and Smith over Brothers and Cliett. Also, the Vikings drafted both Downs and Smith, and that might give them a bit of an edge as well.
Cornerback (4 + 1)
In: Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes
Suspended: Holton Hill
Out: Kris Boyd, Craig James, Nate Meadors, Duke Thomas
It might look like I’m shorting the Vikings by only keeping four corners, but I think that some of the players they have listed at safety could shift into a corner spot if the situation called for it. We know that Hughes, likely, isn’t going to be ready for Week 1, but man. . .the rest of the options after the top four guys are not necessarily great. I guess if I had to take a fifth corner from the current roster, Duke Thomas would be the guy, but this is what I have right now.
In: Marcus Epps, Anthony Harris, Jayron Kearse, Derron Smith, Harrison Smith
Out: Isaiah Wharton
The Vikings have played Epps at both corner and safety this preseason, and I thought that Derron Smith had a solid preseason as well. I can’t justify any of the four cornerbacks on my “out” list over Epps or Derron Smith, so that’s why we have four corners and five safeties. Also, Jayron Kearse is going to be on the field a lot in some capacity, and he’s going to have a monster year.
Special Teams (3)
In: Dan Bailey, Austin Cutting, Matt Wile
Out: Kaare Vedvik
I know, I know. . .the Vikings burned a fifth-round pick to bring Vedvik in and therefore should try to find a spot for him. Here’s the thing, though.
Based on the evidence that we saw on the field in three preseason games, at this point Vedvik isn’t a better kicker than Bailey, and he isn’t a better punter than Wile. And, with that in mind, I can’t justify getting rid of either Bailey or Wile to put him on the roster. Just can’t do it. If the Vikings do feel as though they need to keep Vedvik, then I think Wile is the one on the chopping block, largely because of Bailey’s track record and the fact that the Vikings have been using Chad Beebe as a holder for field goal attempts, which is Wile’s other major role.
But, with about 36 hours to go before the deadline to get rosters down to the NFL-mandated 53 players, that’s one man’s stab at what the final roster will look like. Well, for about 24 hours, until roster claims are processed and more moves are made.
What do you think, folks? Thoughts? Objections? Annoyances?