Daniel House takes a way too early stab at the Vikings 53-man roster before the team reports for training camp in Mankato, MN on Thursday.
Updated: July 23rd, 2014 9:00am
By: Daniel House
Before the Vikings report to Mankato, MN for training camp tomorrow, I have released an extremely pre-mature version of the 53-man roster. This will change significantly as roster battles begin, but I have formulated my own opinion and like to see where the chips fall after my time in Mankato ends.
So, I hereby present the way too early Vikings 53-man roster prediction:
*NOTE: (Italicization denotes a starting role)*
Quarterbacks (3): Teddy Bridgewater, Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder
The depth chart is far from set at quarterback, but the three players in the position group are all solid options. Bridgewater could develop into the starter, Matt Cassel could provide stability in the event Teddy isn't ready, and Christian Ponder is a viable third-string quarterback. Ponder could be traded, but considering his cap hit, this seems unlikely at this time.
Running Backs (3): Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata
Joe Banyard could push Matt Asiata for the third-string job, especially if he shows an ability to fit better in Norv Turner's offense as a receiver. The Vikings will be monitoring the running back position and will be looking for the best fit in the schematics of the offense.
Fullback (1): Jerome Felton
Felton has a minuscule amount of money left on his deal and could be a casualty if the Vikings are looking to get younger at this position. Felton is a pro-bowl run blocker, but he has proven himself as a talented pass catcher too. Zach Line will also be competing with Felton for the fullback job, after a solid training camp and preseason in 2013.
Wide Receivers (5): Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright, Jerome Simpson, Adam Thielen
Many believe the Vikings could keep six wide receivers and three tight ends, but I'm of the other opinion. Chase Ford and A.C. Leonard are both valuable pieces and the Vikings will forfeit a wide receiver spot to keep both of the tight ends. Adam Thielen has been continually praised by the coaching staff and GM Rick Spielman mentioned the strides he made during the off-season. He has a four-way competition with Kain Colter, Josh Cooper, Rodney Smith, and Erik Lora. One of those players could emerge, but heading into training camp, it appears Thielen has the definitive edge.
Tight Ends (4): Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison, A.C. Leonard, Chase Ford
As I discussed with the wide receivers, the Vikings couldn't resist releasing Leonard and Ford, so they kept five wide receivers instead. Rhett Ellison can be a hybrid tight end and fullback and will have no problem making the roster. The Vikings tight end group is the most talented it has been in the last 5 seasons.
Offensive Lineman (8): Matt Kalil, David Yankey, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Antonio Richardson, Joe Berger, Jeff Baca
In this scenario, I have David Yankey dazzling the coaching staff and in a surprising move, the Vikings release Charlie Johnson. The Vikings want to keep a talented guard such as Jeff Baca and the only way to do so is by getting younger within the position group. Johnson will struggle during the preseason and training camp, resulting in his release during the final cuts. The Vikings could try to slide Antonio Richardson onto the practice squad, but it doesn't seem they will be interested in risking this. Vlad Duccase was signed this off-season, but as I said earlier, the Vikings like the potential they have in former draft pick Jeff Baca.
Defensive Lineman (8): Brian Robison, Linval Joseph, Sharrif Floyd, Everson Griffen, Scott Crichton, Corey Wootton, Fred Evans, Tom Johnson
The Vikings deepest position group is among the defensive line, which is a good sign for Mike Zimmer's defensive scheme. Scott Crichton and Corey Wootton provide the Vikings with versatile options on the inside and outside of the defensive line. While, Fred Evans and Tom Johnson figure to be the backups at the nose tackle position. The Vikings need insurance options at the tackle position and are hoping Sharrif Floyd can handle a bigger role this season.
Linebackers (7): Chad Greenway, Anthony Barr, Audie Cole, Mike Mauti, Jasper Brinkley, Brandon Watts, Dom DeCicco
Mike Zimmer traditionally has kept five or six linebackers during his time in Cincinnati, but he will change his philosophy in Minnesota. The Vikings have a deep group of young potential with Mauti, Cole, and Hodges and Zimmer wants the chance to work with them this season. Brandon Watts was drafted this year and the Vikings want to see if he can develop into a role on defense and special teams. The team will part ways with special teams ace Larry Dean and will keep Dom DeCicco. DeCicco has had experience at linebacker and supplanted an injured Brian Urlacher in 2012. He graded high as a special teams ace and the Vikings will be able to upgrade both of the aspects Larry Dean has provided in recent seasons.
Defensive Backs (11): Captain Munnerlyn, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Marcus Sherels, Shaun Prater, Derek Cox, Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton, Kurt Coleman, Andrew Sendejo, Antone Exum
The Vikings will have a very difficult decision to make at the defensive back position. This is a good problem to have, especially after seeing the Vikings secondary over the past few seasons. In this scenario, the Vikings will keep one more defensive back than they did last year, in an effort to stop the prolific passing attack in the NFC. The Vikings decide to keep both Shaun Prater and Derek Cox and will try to slide both Jabari Price and Kendall James onto the practice squad. As for the safety position, Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond will be edged by Kurt Coleman because of the versatility he provides as a safety and special teams contributor. The Vikings like Antone Exum's potential for the future, and Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo have both witnessed extended action in their short careers.
Specialists (3): Blair Walsh, Jeff Locke, Cullen Loeffler
This group is set in stone and will need to bounce back after a disappointing 2013 campaign. Locke started punting better towards the end of the year and Blair Wash battled a hamstring injury for a portion of last season. The specialists been working hard and are studying the analytics that will be involved in kicking outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium for the next two seasons.
(Italicization denotes attempt to place on practice squad)
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