It is early. I repeat: It is early. I know this, I understand this… I get it.
Still, we could continue to beat ourselves up over the gory stadium details and fret about rookie contracts that are not (and never will be) a problem, or we can have some fun around here. Of course, we could probably do all of that, but I’m feeling kind of lazy tonight so I’ll just stick to the fun stuff.
After the jump, I’m going to take a look at the 89 guys on the roster and attempt to predict (again, I know, it is early) the 53 man roster on opening day. Feel free to give me your feedback, whether it is nice or not, in the comments section.
1. Christian Ponder
2. Joe Webb
3. Sage Rosenfels
Not Making The Cut: McLeod Bethel-Thompson has to know he isn’t getting a spot on this roster. The best thing he can do for his future is show some glimpses of being an NFL talent to make the practice squad.
The Biggest Question: Christian Ponder will be the week one starter, but will he be able to stay healthy enough and show enough improvement to keep that spot as the season wears on?
4. Adrian Peterson
5. Toby Gerhart
6. Lex Hilliard
Not Making The Cut: Derrick Coleman and Jordan Todman could be candidates to edge out Hilliard for the third back position if they show enough in camp. For now, however, I’m guessing they will be dueling for a chance to land on the practice squad. Coleman’s unique story will almost assuredly make him a fan favorite throughout camp.
The Biggest Question: Will Adrian Peterson be back to start the season and how effective will he be upon his return?
7. Kyle Rudolph
8. John Carlson
9. Rhett Ellison
Not Making The Cut: Allen Reisner and Mickey Shuler have both been on-again-off-again players that the Vikings just don’t seem willing to give a serious role to. They have an uphill battle to make the final roster.
The Biggest Question: Will the expensive acquisition of John Carlson and the unusually high draft investment into a blocking tight end pay off for Rick Spielman in his first year as G.M.?
10. Percy Harvin
11. Michael Jenkins
12. Jarius Wright
13. Greg Childs
14. Stephen Burton
Not Making The Cut: Manny Arceneaux, Devin Aromashadu, Kamar Jorden, Kerry Taylor, and Bryan Walters are all sent packing in this scenario. Arceneaux and Aromashadu will be Stephen Burton’s toughest competition in camp.
The Biggest Question: There will be plenty of big questions here. Whose roster spot will Jerome Simpson take after his suspension is served? Will the rookies step up and be immediate contributors? Will Michael Jenkins’ injury history, age, and price tag be enough to see him cut before the season? Will the Vikings get their hands on any other serious receiving threats when other teams start to make cuts? I’ll let you pick which question is the biggest.
15. Matt Kalil
16. Phil Loadholt
17. DeMarcus Love
Not Making The Cut: Patrick Brown, Tyler Holmes, Levi Horn, and Darion Weems are all highly unlikely to make the roster, but you never know. Brown has the best chance of these four.
The Biggest Question: All eyes will be on Matt Kalil’s rookie performance, but the bigger question might be how well does Phil Loadholt perform in his contract year?
18. John Sullivan
19. Charlie Johnson
20. Geoff Schwartz
21. Brandon Fusco
22. Joe Berger
23. Quentin Saulsberry
Not Making The Cut: Chris DeGeare is once again cut in this scenario, but he could surprise in preseason and make a case for himself. One thing is for sure, there is a lot of competition for these spots, and I called for six to make the team, which is probably one too many. Austin Pasztor hardly seems to have a chance at all.
The Biggest Question: There are a lot of intriguing names here, but this will also be a numbers game, so it will be interesting to see how this competition plays out. Who will make up the Vikings line in 2012?
24. Chris Kluwe
25. Cullen Loeffler
26. Blair Walsh
Not Making The Cut: Nobody. The Vikings currently employ no competition, even of the untalented variety, to make this at all interesting.
The Biggest Question: Can Blair Walsh be an NFL kicker?
27. Kevin Williams
28. Letroy Guion
29. Christian Ballard
30. Fred Evans
Not Making The Cut: Chase Baker, Tydreke Powell, and Terrell Resonno will have every chance to outplay and beat out Fred Evans, but it’d be a stretch to expect that as a certainty.
The Biggest Question: Will Letroy Guion be able to come into his own after being given time to develop and grow, and be an effective starter at the nose position?
31. Jared Allen
32. Brian Robison
33. Everson Griffen
34. D’Aundre Reed
Not Making The Cut: Rookie Trevor Guyton and journeyman Nick Reed are interesting competition that could push for D-Aundra Reed’s roster spot. Anthony Jacobs, Eric Latimore, and Ernest Owusu are all intriguing prospects and could be quality practice squad projects.
The Biggest Question: How will the Vikings figure out ways to get Everson Griffen involved on defense?
35. Chad Greenway
36. Erin Henderson
37. Jasper Brinkley
38. Larry Dean
39. Solomon Elimimian
40. Audie Cole
41. Tyler Nielson
Not Making The Cut: Not enthralled with the group I have listed here? Me neither. Still, I don’t think that Tyrone McKenzie, Marvin Mitchell, and Corey Paredes would be any more exciting. They don’t make the cut.
The Biggest Question: Will Jasper Brinkley be able to fill the shoes left by E.J. Henderson in the middle of the defense, or will the Vikings have to bring in help in the form of free agents to make this a formidable group?
42. Chris Cook
43. Chris Carr
44. Antoine Winfield
45. Zack Bowman
46. Josh Robinson
47. Brandon Burton
Not Making The Cut: It was really hard to cut Marcus Sherels, especially with his special teams potential, but Asher Allen was a much easier decision. Bobby Felder could be a sleeper to keep an eye on throughout camp, I suspect he will turn some heads, and could end up being a surprise keeper. Oh, and then there is the point guard, Nicholas Taylor… how will that turn out? Each of the guys getting cut here have their potential and upside, but I also like the corners I gave spots to. Should be a fun competition to watch.
The Biggest Question: This is a general and obvious question, but have the Vikings finally cobbled together a good enough group to make opposing quarterbacks look human?
48. Harrison Smith
49. Jamarca Sanford
50. Mistral Raymond
51. Robert Blanton
52. Eric Frampton
Not Making The Cut: Reggie Jones and Andrew Sandejo are really the only safeties I need to cut in this scenario. This highlights just how much depth the Vikings still lack here, despite taking steps to upgrade the position in the Draft.
The Biggest Question: The first round is for impact players. Can Harrison Smith come in and make an impact or are we in for yet another disappointing safety selection?
(That’s right, I save the best for last!)
53. Jerome Felton
Not Making The Cut: Perhaps Rick Spielman’s greatest creation is his competition at the fullback spot, but alas, I have it unfolding with Jerome Felton getting the main gig, Rhett Ellison pulling some reps outside of his tight end duties, and Lex Hilliard sticking as the third running back. That leaves Matt Asiata and Ryan D’Imperio looking for work.
The Biggest Question: Will all of Spielman’s efforts to upgrade the lead blocker position have any noticeable impact at all? Gosh, one would hope so.