Saturday, September 1, 2018

Analysis of the Vikings' 53-Man Roster

The Vikings trimmed their roster to 53 players by the 3 p.m. deadline on Saturday. Daniel House provides his insight on all of the roster moves.

Updated: September 1, 2018, 5:00 p.m.
By: Daniel House

The Vikings’ 53-man roster is set – for now. There are still a few moves likely via waiver claims, but for the most part, we have a better idea of what the team will look like during the season opener against San Francisco. Veteran defensive end Brian Robison headlined the roster cuts as the team favored young options up front. Minnesota also released veteran wide receiver Kendall Wright in favor of both Brandon Zylstra and Stacy Coley. Cornerback Terence Newman retired and will join the coaching staff immediately. Newman's football IQ and teaching style will be excellent in a coaching role. 

The 53-man roster is set, but the Vikings could still search the waiver wire for an offensive lineman or linebacker.

Until then, here’s a look at the 53-man roster:

QB: (3): Kirk Cousins, Trevor Siemian, Kyler Sloter

Analysis: There are no surprises at quarterback -- a big free agent signing, an experienced backup and a developmental quarterback.

RB: (4): Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, Mike Boone, Roc Thomas

Analysis: The Vikings clearly didn't want to lose Roc Thomas via a waiver claim. In a surprising move, the team kept four running backs. Mike Boone was rock solid in the preseason and locked up the No. 3 running back job. His well-rounded skill-set, specifically as a pass catcher really separated him from the competition. With the chance Latavius Murray sticks around for just one more year, it's worth finding a way to include Thomas in the future plans. His above average agility, unique athleticism and receiving skills are traits the coaches can continue to mold. Not only that, but he provides excellent depth at the position. If the team makes another roster move, Thomas could still be released to make room. Perhaps the goal was to prevent him from hitting the large wave of roster cuts. Either way, the idea of keeping both Boone and Thomas is great for the future of the running back position in Minnesota. 

FB: (1): C.J. Ham

Analysis: C.J. Ham is “Mr. Versatility” and has quietly become one of the most underrated contributors in the Vikings’ offense.

WR: (5): Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Brandon Zylstra, Stacy Coley

Analysis: The wide receiver group was a difficult position to project. Injuries really impacted the evaluation of many players on the back half of the depth chart. Veteran Kendall Wright had a slow start to training camp and did not play special teams. He also was expendable because Laquon Treadwell’s growth has allowed Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to play in the slot more frequently. Those factors drastically hurt Wright’s chances to make the team.

Brandon Zylstra missed the first three preseason games due to injury, but grabbed a touchdown in the final preseason game. His performance in the spring, combined with his special teams ability was enough to crack the 53-man roster. The final spot was awarded to Stacy Coley, despite injuries impacting his availability since OTAs. It’s clear the coaches and front office value his potential.

The Vikings are trying to place Chad Beebe on the practice squad, but it’s not a guarantee. If he makes it there, he is someone the team can develop for the future.

TE: (3): Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan, Tyler Conklin

Analysis: No surprises here. Moving forward, the Vikings value the upside of Tyler Conklin. He could develop into a mismatch threat in the offense with more experience.

OL: (9): Riley Reiff, Tom Compton, Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers, Rashod Hill, Brian O’Neill, Danny Isidora, Aviante Collins, Brett Jones
Analysis: The Vikings kept nine offensive linemen and may look to add another via waivers or trade. Cornelius Edison performed well during Pat Elflein’s absence, but was unable to crack the 53-man roster. He could still potentially be a practice squad candidate, however, another team might sign him as depth. Edison's strength and movement skill limitations might be a few reasons why the team is looking at other options. With Elflein being activated off the PUP list, the Vikings were forced to release one player at the bottom of the depth chart. As I mentioned above, it still doesn’t feel like the team is quite finished adding talent on the offensive line.

DL: (9): Danielle Hunter, Sheldon Richardson, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Tashawn Bower, Stephen Weatherly, Jaleel Johnson, David Parry, Jalyn Holmes

Analysis: In a surprising move, the Vikings released 11-year veteran defensive end Brian Robison. He took a $2 million pay cut this offseason, but the team decided to part ways after evaluating all of the youth they have at the position. It’s a tough decision to make, especially considering Robison was a key leader in the locker room.

However, with Tashawn Bower and Stephen Weatherly’s strong preseason performances, the Vikings clearly want to involve them in the rotation. Also, it looks like the team will use Anthony Barr more in a pass rushing capacity, which probably weighed into this decision as well. 

In addition to Robison, the team waived Ifeadi Odebigbo. He flashed his potential on numerous occasions, but was cut in favor of David Parry. Odenigbo can play inside or off the edge to create disruptions. The team is hoping to place him on the practice squad, but it’s likely he’ll be claimed. The decision to keep Parry shows how much the Vikings value having a pure nose tackle as a backup to Linval Joseph. Parry improved as the preseason progressed and it was enough to slide into a deep defensive line group.

LB: (5): Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Ben Gedeon, Eric Wilson, Devante Downs

Analysis: The Vikings didn’t have any tough decisions to make in the top-four of this position group. The fifth spot was a little tougher to project. Reshard Cliett finished the preseason strong and is someone who could develop into a future option. Reports indicated he might be a practice squad candidate. However, the team clearly likes the upside of seventh round pick Devante Downs, who was extremely productive at California. He missed time with a knee injury leading up to the combine and has been trying to shake off all of the rust. It also wouldn’t be surprising if the team explored the possibility of placing a waiver claim on a linebacker. Keep in mind, Kentrell Brothers will also return following his four-game suspension for performance enhancing drug use.

CB: (6): Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes, Marcus Sherels, Holton Hill

Analysis: It’s been evident how much the Vikings like the depth they have at cornerback. The decisions in this group were largely contingent upon how they structured other spots on the roster. In a surprising move, Terence Newman announced his retirement. He is now joining the team as a coach in a role yet to be determined. His past playing experience and high football IQ will be a welcome addition to the Vikings' coaching staff. 

The retirement of Newman allowed the team to keep veteran Marcus Sherels, who provides value as a punt returner. Not only that, but they were able to save a spot for Holton Hill as he continues to develop from a fundamental standpoint. This group is full of talent and has a solid blend of youth and veteran leadership.

S: (5): Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, Anthony Harris, George Iloka, Jayron Kearse

Analysis: The only question mark at safety was whether the team would have enough space to keep Jayron Kearse. This became more complicated after the Vikings signed veteran George Iloka last week. Kearse provides value on special teams and the team managed to structure the roster to keep him. Newman's retirement was key to finding a spot for Kearse and keeping an additional offensive linemen. Overall, the addition of George Iloka was a significant upgrade for the Vikings’ depth in the backend. Perhaps he can be a great mentor to Kearse as he continues to evolve as a safety.

K: (3): Daniel Carlson, Matt Wile, Kevin McDermott

Analysis: The Vikings added punter Matt Wile, following a rocky preseason by Ryan Quigley. In addition, we’ll see how Daniel Carlson performs in his rookie season.


  1. I believe Zimmer was looking at using Iloka as a lb/safety hybrid as well for sub packages which will allow Barr to get in as a situational pass rusher on third downs.

  2. I see reports that Cornelius Edison got cut (pft)? but on your final 53 here?

  3. hoping cliett, odebigbo, and beebe clear waivers. interested to see whom we claim from other teams. is chance warmack a fit for the vikings scheme? he's got to be better than compton.

  4. JMHO here ~ I think Downs keep Brothers from getting his roster spot back ~

  5. I agree that Brothers may not return. He really is not a LB at the NFL level, just a ST guy.

  6. so if elflein isn't ready to go week one, newcomer brett jones is the starting center?

  7. So far, for me, the Vikings look pretty average. It appears Flip and Cousins and the offense will require more time to gel into the scoring machine we all hoped for.

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