Thursday, August 11, 2016

Post-Training Camp: Way Too Early 53-Man Roster Projection

Photo: Luke Inman

Daniel House compiles his training camp observations and plays the role of GM as he prematurely puts together a way too early Minnesota Vikings 53-man roster projection. 



Updated: August 11th, 2016 5:30pm

By: Daniel House

Many fans have asked me about the roster I would put together based upon my training camp observations. Rather than answer all the little questions on Twitter, I figured I would put together one big roster post. As I note several times, the preseason will have a major impact on some of the tight roster spots on this team.

Enjoy and check it out below:

Offense (24):

QB (2): Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill

Analysis: Taylor Heinicke's injury really threw a wrench in the plans at quarterback. Heinicke had a real chance to be the backup quarterback behind Teddy Bridgewater. Now, an aging Shaun Hill and rookie Joel Stave are the only options. In camp, it looked like Hill's age was starting to catch up with him and Stave was extremely inconsistent. However, Hill is the veteran and will be favored to stick around. The team can place Stave on the practice squad as a reserve until Heinicke is ready to return. It doesn't mean the Vikings won't add a quarterback who is released during roster cuts. In fact, that definitely is a possibility.

RB (3): Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata

Analysis: The Vikings have a talented running back group and there are really no question marks surrounding any of these players. Peterson is running ferociously, McKinnon looks quick, and Asiata is Mr. Reliable.

FB (0): None

Analysis: It is hard for me to say the Vikings might not keep a fullback on the 53-man roster. Norv Turner has consistently valued fullbacks within his final roster structure. However, this year is a different story. David Morgan can do all the blocking and provide upside as a tight end. Additionally, Rhett Ellison should be ready for the season and he can handle some of the blocking duties too. Both of those tight ends are skilled run blockers and can handle all aspects of the game that a fullback could.

WR (6): Stefon Diggs, Laquon Treadwell, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson, Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen

Analysis: The most mysterious aspect of the wide receiver group is seeing Jarius Wright buried so deep on the depth chart. He has been running with the second-team and Adam Thielen has been taking all of the first-team snaps in three wide receiver sets. Maybe the Vikings will look to trade Wright before the season. If they do, it would leave a spot open to add a player that is cut by another team, a veteran, or a space to keep Moritz Böhringer as a potential developmental project. The Böhringer scenario seems unlikely. However, the status of Jarius Wright is probably the biggest storyline to monitor during the preseason. Cordarrelle Patterson was injured for most of training camp, but his value on special teams, combined with his rumored development as a receiver are enough to keep him around.

TE (4): Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt, David Morgan, Rhett Ellison

Analysis: The Vikings have a loaded tight end group. Rhett Ellison hasn't been activated off the PUP list yet, but all indications point to him being ready for the season. If not, the team will have another roster spot on their hands. Kyle Rudolph is showing improvement, MyCole Pruitt is making strides, and David Morgan was a solid addition via the draft. As I stated earlier, Ellison and Morgan could handle the blocking duties out of the backfield. Not to mention, they can provide value as pass catchers too. The Vikings will have plenty of options to run sets that feature their tight ends in the offensive scheme.

OL (9): Matt Kalil, Alex Boone, Joe Berger, Brandon Fusco, Andre Smith, Nick Easton, Austin Shepherd, T.J. Clemmings, Jeremiah Sirles

Analysis: I could see the Vikings favoring veteran Joe Berger at center and parting ways with John Sullivan. By keeping Nick Easton, Berger could be replaced in a couple years when he decides to retire. In camp, Easton showed that he has the skills to potentially be a center for the future. It seems more logical to keep one veteran and a younger player. However, Sullivan could win the job if the coaches want Berger to continue playing as the versatile backup up front. With Mike Harris potentially missing an extended amount of time this year, the Vikings may value Berger's flexibility even more. T.J. Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles will be the backup tackles unless the Vikings add another backup swing tackle after roster cuts. As I stated in my last post, backup tackle was one of my main concerns leaving camp. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Vikings address this via trade or free agency after league-wide roster cuts.

Finally, Austin Shepherd has the flexibility to play guard and tackle. In fact, I think he is better suited to play tackle in the NFL. The Vikings will need to decide whether they want to develop Willie Beavers or Austin Shepherd. Looking long-term, I think Shepherd has a higher ceiling. The team could try to slide Beavers or Shepherd onto the practice squad, but one of them would likely get claimed.

Defense (26):

DE (5): Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, Danielle Hunter, Zach Moore, Justin Trattou

Analysis: It is clear the deepest position group on this roster is the defensive line. Everson Griffen looks even better than last season, Brian Robison is the veteran in the room, and Danielle Hunter has developed into a more polished pass rusher. Aside from those names, Zach Moore and Justin Trattou stood out in training camp. Moore uses his size as an advantage and makes plays. He was constantly getting inside pressure and had several pass deflections by using his length. He has championship experience from his time in New England and is a solid depth option for the Vikings. Justin Trattou just knows how to make plays. Last year, big plays seemed to follow him everywhere he went. Trattou has developed and refined his pass rushing moves and looks very comfortable in the system. The Vikings have an extremely deep defensive end unit, which should help them create plenty of pressure every week.

DT (4): Sharrif Floyd, Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen

Analysis: Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph are integral aspects of the interior and must stay healthy if the Vikings defensive unit wants to maximize their potential. It is clear Joseph is in the best shape of his career in Minnesota. He is constantly making plays and wreaking havoc on the line of scrimmage. One can argue Joseph is the most valuable piece of the Vikings' defense. Sharrif Floyd battled an injury near the end of camp. In order to get an extension, he needs to prove he can consistently stay healthy.

Tom Johnson has been the biggest under-the-radar defensive player on the roster. His pass rushing skills and ability to get after the quarterback has been a major difference maker. Shamar Stephen focuses so much on his technique and the fundamental aspects of the game. It really stands out when you watch him participate in individual drills. He is constantly asking questions and has an excellent attention to detail. Stephen missed last season due to injury, but he will a nice boost of depth to the interior defensive tackle position.

LB (7): Anthony Barr, Chad Greenway, Emmanuel Lamur, Eric Kendricks, Audie Cole, Edmond Robinson, Kentrell Brothers

Analysis: The linebacker room has so much depth and talent. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are the anchors of the group and will play a huge role in the success of the defense. Chad Greenway will still start, but new addition Emmanuel Lamur can comfortably rotate into the spot to reduce Greenway's total amount of snaps. Many people wrote Audie Cole off entering training camp. After watching him practice, nobody should. He is great in coverage and as a downhill tackler in the running game. He has been filling in since Eric Kendricks' injury and it doesn't seem likely he is going anywhere. Edmond Robinson had a great training camp until he missed the final two practices in Mankato with an injury. Robinson is progressing nicely in the system and could be a solid linebacker in the future. If the Vikings have the space to keep seven linebackers, I don't see how they won't have Kentrell Brothers on the roster. Nonetheless, the preseason will seal his fate. Brothers is a reliable tackler and solid special teams contributor, but he hasn't had any live game action to show it.

CB (6): Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Captain Munnerlyn, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Marcus Sherels

Analysis: In this roster scenario, it could easily come down to whether the Vikings value Kentrell Brothers or Jabari Price. I haven't been impressed with Price in training camp and it will take a late surge in the preseason for me to change my opinion. Price is a nice fit in the system and it sounds like he took advantage of the extra reps he received with Marcus Sherels on family leave and Trae Waynes leaving practice ill. Waynes has developed this offseason and could challenge Terence Newman for the starting outside cornerback spot. Mackensie Alexander is developing and will see plenty of action with the second-team unit in nickel packages.

Finally, it's the age old question: will Marcus Sherels make it? My answer is: yes. Sherels' role on special teams, combined with his work ethic are admirable attributes. Every year, he embraces his role and proves everyone wrong. He is a solid punt returner and outside gunner in punt coverage. At this point, it is hard to believe he would be cut.

S (4): Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, Anthony Harris, Jayron Kearse

Analysis: The strong safety spot is the one starting job that is up for grabs on the defensive side of the ball. Andrew Sendejo has been seeing most of the starting reps in training camp and appears to be the early favorite. Nonetheless, the preseason games will impact who truly comes out on top. Michael Griffin is adjusting to the system and has been making a late push in camp. Additionally, Anthony Harris has proven he has the potential to be a starter in the future.

The final safety spot is where things get complicated.

It doesn't seem likely the team would keep five safeties. With that being said, it will likely come down to Jayron Kearse and veteran Michael Griffin for the final roster spot. Kearse had an excellent training camp and has been turning some heads. Kearse needs time to develop and he could potentially be stashed on the practice squad. However, I'm not sure if it's worth the risk of him being claimed. The team will need to decide whether they want Sendejo or Griffin and I'm betting they'll choose Sendejo.

Specialists (3):

K (1): Blair Walsh

Analysis: Blair Walsh has his confidence back. Not to mention, he will have some time to kick the ball in the preseason. Walsh had no trouble in camp, but needs to show it in live action.

P (1): Jeff Locke

Analysis: Jeff Locke didn't punt well last season and it was hard to tell if he has improved in camp. At the surface, it appears he might have, but he can't be judged until the preseason rolls around. It is clear he needs to play better this year.

LS (1): Kevin McDermott

Analysis: Kevin McDermott is now a million dollar per year man. No more long snapper battles in camp....at least for another four years.

Leave a comment below, join the conversation on Twitter, and have fun with this post-training camp "way too early" 53-man roster projection.

9 comments:

  1. Great job Daniel! I would like to see Griffin make this team, but as you pointed out, it's pretty crowded

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    1. Thanks, Chase! That is a tough position to cut!

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  2. Why will Harris miss time again? Did he get injured?

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    1. He missed practice on Thursday for some reason.

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  3. Great job. Thanks for blog update. Would it be safe to say if you were a betting man, you like under 35 points in tomorrow's preseasin game vs cincy? 👍

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  4. Great job. Thanks for blog update. Would it be safe to say if you were a betting man, you like under 35 points in tomorrow's preseasin game vs cincy? 👍

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    Replies
    1. No problem! The game is now over, but I would have taken the under anyways.

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  5. Excellent job Daniel! I'd be happy with that 53 man roster. Especially with Ellison instead of Zach Line. I would like to keep Griffin and try to sign Brothers on the practice squad. Same thing with Sully and Shepherd. What do you think ?

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    1. Those are all valid points. However, Brothers sliding onto the practice is dependent upon his preseason performance. I think Shepherd would get snatched too. Would rather put Beavers on the PS, especially after his performance tonight.

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