The release of first unofficial depth chart of the season means very little in the grand scheme of a six-month campaign. But for fans of the Minnesota Vikings, it’s the tangible result of training camp’s most competitive battles. The order of names listed on today’s chart will surely change, but there’s plenty to glean from our initial glimpse into makeup of the 2017 Vikings.
Before diving into the list for takeaways, it’s important to note the depth chart doesn’t separate Nickel and boundary corners or slot and boundary receivers.
Mackensie Alexander, for example, is listed as the team’s backup right cornerback behind Xavier Rhodes. However, he’ll likely start the season exclusively as Mike Zimmer’s third cornerback in sub packages. On the opposite side of the ball, Jarius Wright is a slot receiver listed as the backup “Z” behind Stefon Diggs.
The depth chart also doesn’t account for Zimmer’s many rotations along the defensive line. While Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen may be the starting defensive ends, they’ve often bumped down as tackles on third downs or in passing situations. Even backups like Datone Jones and Jaleel Johnson may see playing time in “Nascar” packages when Zimmer chooses to bring fresh bodies on the field.
From a base defense and offense perspective, there aren’t a ton of surprises. At this early stage of the preseason, it’s almost a given that veterans are ahead of the curve in the crucial position battles. It’d be unfair to say they’re winning the competitions, but they’re the default options as Zimmer and Co. continue to evaluate players like Pat Elflein and Ben Gedeon.
With a few exhibition games under their belts, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume some rookies and younger contributors will vault their way up the roster ladder.
After a quick run-through, here are my Monday Morning Quarterback thoughts on the current state of affairs:
Laquon Treadwell is still listed as the Vikings’ third wide receiver despite missing the last week of practice with a hamstring injury. He’d reportedly put together a strong camp performance, indicating he’ll soon return to the field.
Michael Floyd is in the running for Mr. Mankato, but his four-game suspension lands him lower than his true standing on the depth chart. All things equal, he would likely be ahead of Treadwell for meaningful, in-game reps.
The Vikings traded for Nick Easton two years ago, and in that time, he’s worked his way to the starting job at center. Elflein should slide in there at some point during the season, but this competition is far from over. Both players can rotate at any of the three interior offensive line positions.
Though some may disagree, I take Riley Reiff‘s status atop the depth chart as a positive sign moving forward. Rashod Hill surprised many with his solid training camp, but Reiff’s the big-money free agent who needs to step in and play immediately. His back injury remains a slight concern, but it’s apparently just a “twinge.”
With Latavius Murray sidelined, Dalvin Cook is the starting running back. He’s impressed the organization and the outside media, which tells me he may have won the job even if Murray were healthy and practicing. McKinnon should see reps at running back and as a receiving option all over the field.
Chad Greenway‘s old position is still up for grabs, and the competition between Edmond Robinson and Emmanuel Lamur remains a dead heat. I’d put my money on upside and predict Robinson wins the job by the end of the preseason.
The old hats remain the leaders at kicker and punter, but consequential snaps during games will decide both battles. Quigley is the tactician, but he lacks the power and hang time of his contemporary, Symmank. Forbath was invaluable last season, but his long-distance kicking remains a question mark.
Marcus Sherels is the starting punt and kick returner. Rodney Adams, who made a living in college as a kick team specialist and big play extraordinaire, is his backup in both spots. If the Vikings want to save Sherels’ smaller frame, Adams is the guy to watch on kickoffs.
What do you think of the depth chart? Share your thoughts in the comments below!