As the Minnesota Vikings enter their 4th and final preseason game on Thursday night, all eyes will be on the bottom ⅓ of the team’s 90-man roster. On Saturday the team will cut down from 90 men to 53, the first time cuts will happen on a single day. Expect Saturday to be a zoo with over 1,200 names hitting waivers. With that said, we aren’t here to worry about the 31 other teams. Barring injuries on Thursday night, here is my thoughts on how the Vikings will construct their roster.
Active Roster: Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Taylor Heinicke, Teddy Bridgewater (PUP)
Cut: Mitch Leidner
Practice Squad: None
The question is whether the Vikings will carry two or three QB’s on the roster initially. Case Keenum has created some distance between himself and Taylor Heinicke for the backup QB job, but that doesn’t mean Heinicke isn’t worth an active roster spot. If the Vikings truly believe Bridgewater will be activated from the PUP later in the season, gamesmanship could suggest it’d be easier to get Heinicke onto the PS now than to slide him through waivers mid-season. Due to the team’s past commitment to Henicke I am leaning towards him making the initial 53.
Running Back / Fullback (4)
Active Roster: Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, Jerick McKinnon, C.J. Ham, Bishop Sankey (IR)
Cut: Bronson Hill, Terrell Newby
Practice Squad: Sign 1 post waivers
After the signing of Latavius Murray and selection of Dalvin Cook the Vikings running back room was pretty much set. Now that Murray is healthy he should split the majority of the workload with Cook. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Murray get more work than anticipated to keep Cook fresh throughout the season. McKinnon is a chess piece for the offense and can be a contributor on special teams. Ham has proven to be a coaching favorite and does enough as a blocker to warrant his spot on the roster.
Tight End (4)
Active Roster: Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan, Bucky Hodges, Kyle Carter
Cut: Josiah Price
Practice Squad: Nick Truesdell
If the Vikings elect to keep C.J. Ham on the active roster (as stated above) you have to question whether the team will keep three or four TE’s. Kyle Rudolph is a lock and David Morgan has a unique role as a strong run blocker. After that, Bucky Hodges has shown coaches the physical traits that stood out on his collegiate tape. Although still raw he likely wouldn’t make it onto the practice squad. Kyle Carter has been solid throughout camp and showed his capability over the middle in preseason week 3. If the Vikings keep four, he is the guy. Nick Truesdell may be a good PS candidate. Carter takes his place on the PS if not on the active roster.
Wide Receiver (5)
Active Roster: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Jarius Wright, Stacy Coley, Michael Floyd (SUS)
Cut: Isaac Fruechte, Moritz Bohringer, R.J. Shelton
Practice Squad: Rodney Adams, Cayleb Jones
With the impending suspension of Michael Floyd, the Vikings could opt to keep their five most polished receivers for the time being. Jarius Wright will be on the man to watch on cutdown day. Similar to last year, the Vikings would likely move on if they can find a suitable trade. However, if a trade cannot be found I would tend to think they’d risk Rodney Adams on waivers in an attempt to stash him on the PS early in the season. Adams needs to continue developing as a WR and without winning the KR job, his roster spot does not carry significant value. In an ideal world the Vikings keep Adams and walk away with a draft pick (via Jarius Wright) as well.
Offensive Line (9)
Active Roster: Riley Reiff, Rashod Hill, Alex Boone, Joe Berger, Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers, Nick Easton, Danny Isiadora, Willie Beavers
Cut: Jeremiah Sirles, Austin Shepherd, Freddie Tagaloa, Zac Kerin, Reid Fragel
Practice Squad: T.J. Clemmings, Aviante Collins
As the Vikings cut down their O-line stable, the top eight spots seem to be decided on. After that the ninth spot comes down to Beavers and Sirles. Both have their pro’s and con’s. Beavers has taken a step in the right direction this off-season and provides functional OT depth. Sirles can move around the line but is more of a known commodity. Based on their most recent performances it would appear Beavers has a slight edge. However, the Vikings will be looking hard at the waiver wire and trade market for potential upgrades there.
Defensive Line (9)
Active Roster: Everson Griffen, Stephen Weatherly, Tashawn Bower, Linval Joseph, Shamar Stephen, Tom Johnson, Jaleel Johnson, Danielle Hunter, Brian Robinson, Sharrif Floyd (PUP)
Cut: Will Sutton, Datone Jones, Sam McCaskill, Dylan Bradley, Chunky Clements
Practice Squad: Ifedi Odenigbo
To no surprise, the Vikings bread and butter is their D-line and they have some tradeable assets. Both Jaleel Johnson and Tashawn Bower have proven their worth this preseason and should find themselves on the final 53. This means both Will Sutton and Datone Jones could find themselves on waivers. Both players had suitors throughout FA and could prove to be a pathway to additional depth along the O-line or at linebacker (below). Although Ifedi Odenigbo flashed during the preseason it would be ideal to stash him on the PS to develop into a more well-rounded DE.
Active Roster: Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Ben Gedeon, Kentrell Brothers, Eric Wilson, Edmond Robinson
Cut: Davis Noor, Emmanuel Lamur
Practice Squad: Elijah Lee
Now that it looks like Ben Gedeon has won the WLB competition, depth becomes the question. Kentrell Brothers is a top of the line ST’s contributor and Eric Wilson has shown enough this preseason to warrant a roster spot. Edmond Robinson could be a surprise cut if the FO can find another depth piece on waivers, but it looks as if Emmanuel Lamur will be a cap casualty after not winning the starting role.
Active Roster: Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Terence Newman, Mackenzie Alexander, Marcus Sherels
Cut: Jabari Price, Tre Roberson, Sam Brown, Horace Richardson
Practice Squad: Terrell Sinkfield
Although the team could use additional depth at CB, it likely will not be found on waivers due to league scarcity. The starters appear set and Marcus Sherels should continue his chokehold on the starting punt return job and elite special teams player. Sinkfield’s transition to DB has been positive and he has earned a spot on the PS.
Active Roster: Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, Jayron Kearse, Anthony Harris, Antone Exum
Practice Squad: Jack Tocho
Keeping five safeties is not typical but Antone Exum Jr has proven to be versatile enough of a roster spot. Aside from safety he has proven to be a capable slot CB in a pinch. Behind the starters, both Jayron Kearse and Anthony Harris have made strides in the right direction to protects their roster spots.
Special Teams (3)
Active Roster: Marshall Koehn, Ryan Quigley, Kevin McDermott
Cut: Kai Forbath, Taylor Symmank
Practice Squad: None
The kicker battle is close and the deciding factor may be Forbath being the incumbent. My opinion is slightly different and would keep the bigger leg if their was not a significant decrease in accuracy (which appears to be the case). Just being able to attempt 55+ yard FG’s gives the offense options they wouldn’t otherwise have. The punter competition is also up in the air but Quigley appears to have a slight edge. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the opening day punter is on the roster. Without doubt, Kevin McDermott makes the team as the long snapper.
QB – Sam Bradford
HB – Dalvin Cook / Latavius Murray
FB – C.J. Ham
TE – Kyle Rudolph / David Morgan
WR – Stefon Diggs, Laquon Treadwell, Adam Thielen (slot)
LT – Riley Reiff
LG – Alex Boone
C – Pat Elflein
RG – Joe Berger
RT – Mike Remmers
RE – Everson Griffen
NT – Linval Joseph
DT – Tom Johnson
LE – Danielle Hunter
SLB – Anthony Barr
ILB – Eric Kendricks
WLB – Ben Gedeon
CB – Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander (slot)
SS – Andrew Sendejo
FS – Harrison Smith
P – Ryan Quigley
K – Marshall Koehn
LS – Kevin McDermott
PR – Marcus Sherels
KR – Jerrick McKinnon