Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Post Preseason Game Two: Way Too Early 53-Man Roster Projection

Photo: Cover32
We have reached the midway point of the preseason schedule and it is time to project another 53-man roster. Daniel House provides his complete analysis of the Vikings roster. 

Updated: August 24th, 2016 1:47pm

By: Daniel House

We have reached the midway point of the preseason schedule and it is time to project another 53-man roster. This will be the final projection before I release the last part of the series following the fourth preseason game. I have made a few revisions to my post-training camp version and they are reflected in my analysis of each position group.

Offense (25):

QB (2): Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill

Analysis: With the Teddy Bridgewater saga taking place over the last few days, I wondered if this position might be structured differently. If he is truly experiencing shoulder soreness, would the team elect to keep three quarterbacks and another on the practice squad to minimize practice reps for Bridgewater? Shaun Hill is entering his 15th season and he can't continually throw a large amount of passes in practice either. However, Joel Stave can be placed on the practice squad and I think three practice quarterbacks will be enough to effectively distribute passes in a manner that is best for overall health at the position. In his post-practice presser on Wednesday, Teddy Bridgewater said he plans to play on Sunday and didn't seem to indicate his rumored shoulder soreness was a problem. With that being said, keeping two quarterbacks makes the most sense at this point.

RB (3): Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata
Analysis: The running back position seems set. Peterson has his sights set high, McKinnon will hopefully see more snaps, and Matt Asiata is the reliable third option. In the preseason, C.J. Ham has flashed his potential to be a third-down power running back. It is hard to see him beating out Asiata and the practice squad is the most logical spot for him this year.

FB (1): Zach Line
Analysis: After watching how the Vikings used the fullback position in the first two preseason games, it is hard to believe they would eliminate the position. Fullback Zach Line and tight end David Morgan ran some packages out of the backfield and Line was used frequently as a lead blocker out of the backfield. Line has put together an average training camp and preseason and his tough personality does mesh nicely with the makeup of this roster. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has always valued fullbacks in his final roster constructions and I don't see that changing this year.

WR (6): Stefon Diggs, Laquon Treadwell, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson, Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen
Analysis: The top portion of the depth chart with Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Laquon Treadwell and Adam Thielen are easily penciled into the roster. It is hard to imagine Cordarrelle Patterson wouldn't make the team because of his special teams value alone. Patterson didn't have the chance to show his progress in training camp and has been used rather minimally in the preseason as well. He has too much potential and the Vikings will let his contract expire before they decide to part ways. Finally, the most puzzling player within this group is Jarius Wright. Adam Thielen was ahead of him on the depth chart in training camp and with Wright's recent absence due to injury, could the Vikings decide to trade him? Wright will be back for the preseason game this week and it will be worth monitoring how he is utilized. With Wright's recent contract extension and value as a rotational receiver, it might make sense to keep him around.

TE (4): Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt, David Morgan, Rhett Ellison
Analysis: The tight end room is probably one of the best on the entire roster. Kyle Rudolph is having the best camp/preseason I have seen from him since he arrived in Minnesota. MyCole Pruitt will see an increased role in the scheme and David Morgan has put together a fantastic camp and preseason. Rhett Ellison returned from PUP and it doesn't get much better than having Ellison and Morgan as run blocking tight ends. The casual fan doesn't realize how much of a role Ellison played in the running game last year. What's more, Morgan was one of the best run blockers in college football and gives the Vikings flexibility to fully maximize their blocking schemes.

OL (9): Matt Kalil, Alex Boone, Joe Berger, Brandon Fusco, Andre Smith, Nick Easton, Zac Kerin, T.J. Clemmings, Jeremiah Sirles
Analysis: The offensive line is probably the toughest group to project right now. Joe Berger has been seeing the majority of the first-team reps at center and I'm not convinced John Sullivan is going to make the team. His preseason performance has been average and I wasn't entirely confident about him in camp. It comes down to whether the team values players like Zac Kerin and Nick Easton or John Sullivan. In the event Berger is the starting center, Kerin can be the "new" versatile Joe Berger. Additionally, Nick Easton has played phenomenal in camp/preseason and he is definitely the potential center of the future. Andre Smith is my favorite to win the starting right tackle job and T.J. Clemmings/Jeremiah Sirles will be the backup swing tackles. I'm not entirely convinced the team won't try to upgrade the swing tackle spot when other teams trim their rosters. However, this appears to be the best mix thus far. I'm most upset about Austin Shepherd not seeing any reps in the preseason because I'm confident he has the chance to be a really good player in the league. With his limited usage in the exhibition slate, it doesn't bode well for this future. He could potentially slide onto the practice squad, but I think he would get snatched.

Defense (25):

DE (5): Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, Danielle Hunter, Zach Moore, Justin Trattou
Analysis: The Vikings have a very talented group of defensive ends that will consistently get after the passer. Everson Griffen looks even better, Brian Robison is the veteran leader, and Danielle Hunter will push for more playing time. Aside from the main names, Zach Moore had a great first preseason game and a more average second one. However, he dominated at times during camp practices and his combination of size and athleticism are a nice fit in the scheme. Justin Trattou has really taken a step forward as a pass rusher and rounds out a great group of edge pass rushers.

DT (4): Sharrif Floyd, Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen
Analysis: This year, the Vikings have better depth behind Linval Joseph at nose tackle. Losing Shamar Stephen last year really left a gaping hole in the depth at defensive tackle. Stephen has put together a pretty good preseason and his focus on technique/fundamentals really shows in games. Tom Johnson is a great rotational third-down pass rusher and is such a valuable asset as well. With this position, I'm most concerned about the health of Sharrif Floyd. Floyd returned to practice this week, but will his knee problem linger? He needs to stay healthy for the Vikings defense to maximize their potential.

LB (6): Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Chad Greenway, Emmanuel Lamur, Audie Cole, Edmond Robinson
Analysis: The linebacker room is becoming more solidified with extended preseason action starting to take place. Barr and Kendricks are the anchors of the group and Greenway is the veteran leader. In the event injuries strike, Emmanuel Lamur and Audie Cole can provide experienced depth. The battle comes down to a few young players. Brandon Watts has continually struggled to stay healthy in his career and his days appeared to be numbered. Early in camp, Edmond Robinson looked impressive, but an injury slowed his momentum. Finally, Kentrell Brothers hasn't impressed me in the preseason. He reacts slow and doesn't have the speed to recover. Robinson has more upside in the scheme and Brothers could be placed on the practice squad.

CB (6): Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Captain Munnerlyn, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Marcus Sherels
Analysis: It appears Terence Newman is still going to be the starter opposite of Xavier Rhodes unless something shocking occurs in the next couple weeks. Trae Waynes can slowly develop and increase his total number of snaps as the season evolves. Mackensie Alexander has the chance to be a pretty special player and could replace Captain Munnerlyn in the slot if they elect not to re-sign him next year. Marcus Sherels made a big play in the last preseason game and his role on special teams will keep him around for another year. Jabari Price didn't perform well in training camp and the preseason hasn't been much better. He is extremely inconsistent and it will hurt him when roster cuts roll around. Additionally, if you follow me, you know how much I love Tre Roberson and his fit in this system. With more development, he has the chance to be a very good player. He is definitely a practice squad candidate.

S (4): Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, Michael Griffin, Anthony Harris
Analysis: Many people were hyped (including myself) with the performance of Jayron Kearse in training camp. However, I'm still not sure he will make the final 53-man roster. The Vikings need to keep a veteran like Michael Griffin as depth at the safety position. Anthony Harris has been hurt and it is tough not to apply the, "you can't make the club in the tub" line. Nonetheless, his experience in games last year is very valuable. Kearse has a high ceiling, but still needs plenty of work to reach his potential. Right now, it seems logical to put Kearse on the practice squad and hope he doesn't get claimed. Perhaps Harris' injury is more significant and the decision might be made with that in mind. Harris could be placed on a reserve list that frees up a roster spot for Kearse on the 53-man roster. I don't see five safeties on the roster either, so it appears the final spot is still up for debate.

Specialists (3):

K (1): Blair Walsh
Analysis: Walsh has still been a little inconsistent and I want to see him build his confidence as the preseason comes to a close.

P (1): Jeff Locke
Analysis: Jeff Locke did not punt well in the last preseason game and he needs to perform better. 

LS (1): Kevin McDermott
Analysis: No problems with Kevin.

Practice Squad (10): QB Joel Stave, RB C.J. Ham, OG Willie Beavers, DT Toby Johnson, LB Kentrell Brothers, S Jayron Kearse, DE Stephen Weatherly, WR Moritz Böhringer, OT Austin Shepherd, CB Tre Roberson


  1. I agree with most of your analysis. My biggest issue is I don't think you'll be able to "hide" several of the 2016 draftees on the practice squad. Which forces me to consider the longer term upside of a Brothers vs. Cole, or Weatherly vs. Trattou, or Kearse versus Harris? I might keep two or three of these 2016 draftees on the 53-man roster for that reason alone. Also, are you assuming Harris and Heinicke are on IR?

    If your projections come true, it's not a ringing endorsement of the Vikings' 2016 draft (especially when you consider who was on the board when the Vikes were on the clock)...

  2. You will lose Kearse and Boehringer is they try to P.S. them for sure! Trade or cut Wright he is replaceable Thielen can outplay him any day! No need for Line as a FB with Ellison and Morgan both making the team.

  3. Sullivan is not getting cut....silly

  4. If another team claims a player off our practice squad, they have to be added to the new team's active 53 man roster. Nobody would put MoBo on their active roster right now-he didn't take a snap on offense in the last game. Beavers, Brothers,Weatherly haven't done anything to warrant making a 53 man squad. Kearse had a good camp and first game, not good 2nd game. He slipped to the 7th rd for a reason. Still, I'd say he'd have best chance of our draftees of getting plucked.

  5. If another team claims a player off our practice squad, they have to be added to the new team's active 53 man roster. Nobody would put MoBo on their active roster right now-he didn't take a snap on offense in the last game. Beavers, Brothers,Weatherly haven't done anything to warrant making a 53 man squad. Kearse had a good camp and first game, not good 2nd game. He slipped to the 7th rd for a reason. Still, I'd say he'd have best chance of our draftees of getting plucked.