Sunday, August 17, 2014

An Early Vikings 53-Man Roster and Practice Squad Projection- (2.0)

Daniel House takes his second stab at the Vikings 53-man roster and practice squad. Find out who he has making the 'cut.'

Updated: August 17th, 2014 8:53pm

By: Daniel House

The Vikings wrapped up their home preseason slate last night, training camp has concluded, and the regular season is less than a month away. The team will head back to the Winter Park this week to continue their preparations for the 2014 season. There is certain to be players from other teams on the final 53-man roster, but I have listed the roster and practice squad as the team currently is constructed.

I will update this roster after every preseason game and will continually make tweaks to the grouping.

Here is the second stab at the 53-man roster and practice squad:

Offense (25): 

Quarterbacks (3): Matt Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater, Christian Ponder

Just missed the cut: None

Analysis: I don't see Matt Cassel not winning the starting job and my opinion won't be changing anytime soon. Teddy Bridgewater put together a brilliant game-winning drive in the last preseason game, but the keys still will be handed to Cassel. If the coaches can give Teddy some time to develop, he could really turn into something special. It is definitely encouraging to see how well he has progressed already and last night's performance was a solid confidence boost for the rookie. In my last projection, I had Christian Ponder being released, but this trend seems slightly unrealistic. A team will call about Ponder and I think the Vikings can execute a trade that will involve a late round pick. With the way the roster is constructed now, if they can't pull off a trade, the team will keep Christian Ponder as the third quarterback this season. This isn't the ideal scenario to keep extra players on the defensive side of the ball, but it will most likely need to happen.

Running Backs (3): Adrian Peterson, Matt Asiata, Jerick McKinnon

Just missed the cut: Joe Banyard, Dominique Williams

Analysis: There really is no question with the top three Vikings running backs this season. Adrian Peterson is healthy and ready for the season, Matt Asiata has refined his body, and Jerick McKinnon is going to be the 'jack-of-all-trades.' Where the decision will get difficult is when they decide what to do with running back Joe Banyard. Banyard rushed for 64 yards on just six carries, including a long 56-yard run in the last preseason game against Arizona. He performed well in the preseason last year, but the Vikings were able to slide him onto the practice squad. This year it seems highly unlikely he could survive waivers if he continues to perform well and is placed on the practice squad. The Vikings don't really have a choice in this situation and may decide to keep Dominique Williams for the practice squad or they will look to add a running back in free agency.

Fullback: (1): Zach Line

Just missed the cut: Jerome Felton

Analysis: This position is very hard for me to decide which direction the team will head. Jerome Felton is a proven veteran who is a solid run blocker and pass catcher, but Zach Line can perform the same tasks. Felton played late in the game and Line did the same, which clearly shows the Vikings are still trying to decide the direction to head. With the way the wide receivers have been performing, I could see the team completely eliminating the fullback position entirely. This seems highly unlikely though, considering those I talked to during training camp strongly indicated the team would keep just one fullback. In this scenario, the Vikings decide to get younger at the position and will have the flexibility to play Zach Line at running back in the event an injury occurs. Felton is expendable and the Vikings can release him without a huge salary impact. I think this position is arguably one of the position groups most up in the air at this point.

Wide Receivers (6): Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Adam Thielen, Rodney Smith

Just missed the cut: Kain Colter*

Analysis: The coaches like the upside Rodney Smith can provide and his recent surge in the last preseason game and training camp will help fuel his rise onto the roster. Adam Thielen has had a great camp and can contribute on special teams, which will help his cause to make the roster. He played rather well against Arizona last night, but did drop a touchdown pass on a perfectly placed fade from Teddy Bridgewater. A player can't be judged on one play and considering he has performed extremely well at training camp, I don't see how he doesn't make the roster. In my last prediction, I assumed Jerome Simpson would be suspended, but since no announcement has been made, I'm planning for the worst. I always believed the team would keep just five wide receivers, but they can't afford to let Rodney Smith hit waivers and risk he is claimed on the way to the practice squad.

Tight Ends (3): Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison, Chase Ford

Just missed the cut: Allen Reisner, Mike Higgins*

Analysis: The coaching staff is hoping that Chase Ford is ready for the start of the season, but in the event he isn't, Allen Reisner performed well enough to make the team last night. He hauled in a touchdown grab in the red zone and corralled a difficult catch in the flat during a late portion of the game. Mike Higgins has proven himself early in camp and has displayed great hands, along with an ability to run solid routes, but he didn't see enough playing time last night to make the team.

Offensive Line (9): Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, David Yankey, Joe Berger, Vlad Ducasse, Antonio Richardson

Just missed the cut: Austin Wentworth*, Jeff Baca, Pierce Burton*

Analysis: I don't see any changes at this position group since my last roster projection. The offensive line group performed much better as a whole and Mike Zimmer commented about how well they performed in the last preseason game against Arizona. There is no way the Vikings can slide Antonio Richardson onto the practice squad and will need make room for him on the 53-man roster. He has played at a rather high level during the last two preseason games and has committed minimal mistakes early in training camp. Veteran Vlad Ducasse bumps Jeff Baca off the roster and the team attempts to slide Austin Wentworth to the practice squad.

Defense (25): 

Defensive Line (8): Brian Robison, Sharrif Floyd, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Corey Wootton, Shamar Stephen, Tom Johnson, Scott Crichton

Just missed the cut: Chase Baker, Isame Faciane*

Analysis: The defensive line is the deepest position group on the Vikings roster and the cuts will be very difficult at this position. The Vikings are using Tom Johnson in plenty of sub packages and can't afford not to have him on the roster for his pass rushing abilities. Shamar Stephen continues to see action in the middle of the defense during Linval Joseph's absence and is putting out some great film for other teams to see. With that being said, the Vikings can't risk losing an athletic interior defender like Stephen and will find a place for him on the 53-man roster. Fred Evans is a fringe roster player and could be released if the coaching staff decides to head in a younger direction at the position. In this scenario, in order to keep Stephen, the team will part ways with veteran Fred Evans.

Linebackers (6): Anthony Barr, Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, Gerald Hodges, Audie Cole, Mike Mauti

Just missed the cut: Larry Dean, Brandon Watts*

Analysis: This position is very tough to project, especially considering all the shuffling that has taken place among the linebackers. Brandon Watts is young and raw, but the coaching staff feels they can slide him onto the practice squad. The only way he makes the 53-man roster is if Christian Ponder is traded, Jerome Simpson is suspended, or the fullback position is eliminated. At this point, all of those scenarios seem rather unrelalistic. The coaching staff likes the talent and depth at this position and will look to keep as much young talent as possible. Mike Mauti hasn't seen many reps at linebacker lately, but his role on special teams will be one of the reasons why he just barely slides onto the roster. In addition, they can't place him on the practice squad and want more time to work with him as a linebacker.

Defensive Backs (11): Captain Munnerlyn, Xavier Rhodes, Jabari Price, Marcus Sherels, Derek Cox, Shaun Prater, Harrison Smith, Kurt Coleman, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo, Antone Exum

Just missed the cut: Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford, Chris Crocker, Kendall James*

Analysis: The defensive backs are very hard to trim this season, which is a great problem to have. The coaching staff decides to keep six cornerbacks and the team surprisingly decides to part ways with cornerback Josh Robinson. The ceiling is high for Robinson, but he can't stay healthy and he didn't have the greatest training camp when he was on the field. Mike Zimmer indicated early this week that it 'was tough to make the team in the tub', which doesn't bode well for Josh Robinson. Kurt Coleman has had a solid camp and it is still undecided who will start alongside Harrison Smith. Blanton has been injured, but proved he can handle the rigors of the defense early in camp. He has the smarts to play the position and Zimmer can't resist having him on the roster. Chris Crocker was recently signed and debuted in last night's game. Mike Zimmer wants to keep him as a veteran presence in the backend of the secondary, but Crocker hasn't really done anything to separate himself early in the preseason. It is early, but I see the team keeping a player like Andrew Sendejo who can play special teams, along with safety too. Antone Exum is a player for the future and he just needs to time to develop and become more fundamentally sound with his technique.

Specialists (3): Blair Walsh, Jeff Locke, Cullen Loeffler

Just missed the cut: None

Analysis: There is no competition or questions at this position, but Jeff Locke needs to become more consistent as a punter. Blair Walsh has struggled when kicking in the preseason too and needs to figure this problem out before the season begins.

Practice Squad: 

Kain Colter
Austin Wentworth
Kendall James
Brandon Watts
Isame Faciane
Pierce Burton
Mike Higgins
Dominique Williams or a free-agent running back


  1. I think they keep and extra OL like Wentworth, a LB like Watts or a DB like Crocker. I think Spielman is trying maximize Ponder's trade value.

  2. I have to say a few things about your writing..... I think your analysis and writing is well-considered and coherent and interesting..... however.....

    I read a line like "Lots of great analysis coming later this afternoon" and it feels a bit too self-congratulatory and to be honest, annoying. It sounds like you're saying "read me, I'm a great writer." Maybe I am reading it out of context, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

    I think if you keep the light shining on the subject of your articles will talent will shine through and you will get recognition.

    1. Sorry you took it that way. I'm simply using that line to directly correlate the motto of the website "Elite NFL Analysis." Didn't mean it to come across the way it did. Thanks for reading!