Where Adam Takes An Early Stab At The 53 Man Roster

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.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. Nice list, Adam. I’m really hoping DeGeare can turn it around this year and offer something at guard. Dare I say it, that CB depth actually looks reasonable, I wonder how many sacks JA could have had last year if the secondary could actually cover! Definitely still need some depth at safety, hopefully they can pick a few players after final cuts are made.

    1. Thanks, SB. It will be interesting to get a report on what kind of shape DeGeare shows up to camp in. And, yes, I think we have some pretty good competition at corner this year. Health and consistency will be the key, though.

  2. Pretty good stab at it Adam. IMO, Quentin Saulsberry will not make the team … Geoff Schwartz should win the starting RG postion over Brandon Fusco. So, that would mean we would have Burger and Fusco to backup Sully at center. No reason to carry 4 guys that can play center. I think we can hide Saulsberry on the practice squad.

    Also, with new rule that teams can carry over unused cap money… I am beginning to believe that the high dollar older guys like Winfield, Micheal Jenkins, Frampton, Fred Evens, and Sage Rosenfels are not all locks to make the 53 man roster.

    Some teams only go with 2 QBs… Can Sage beat out Joe Webb for the #2 spot? If not, is he worth his 2.9 million contract to hold a clip board as the #3 QB?

    1. Thanks, Carl, glad to see you keep coming back 🙂

      I like Saulsberry, but I think you are right that they will try to sneak him through. I went back and forth on whether or not to keep him in (he would be an extra lineman, after all) as I saw the jobs being given out exactly as you described with Schwartz, not Fusco, winning the RG spot. Saulsberry has talent though, and I thought he would be one of the guys that gets an extended audition for the first three weeks until Jerome Simpson needs his roster spot back.

      Yes, the more expensive vested veterans will get their whole salary if they are on the roster in week one, so it is possible that Spielman continues to try and get younger. I think Winfield and Rosenfels are safe, but the rest are on the bubble. We do need SOME veteran leadership on this team, though 🙂

  3. This list certainly looks better than the 2011 version of the Vikes. Interior line will be interesting, you could see them carrying one less lineman with some utility like Johnson being able to play either guard or tackle and a backup center/guard.

    Only position I really question is WR – hard to see all those young receivers being ready to go right away. I think they’ll end up keeping someone like Aromashadu around just to have someone that knows how to play in a NFL offense.

    1. Yeah, I could very easily see the Vikings keeping a guy like Aromashadu around, at least until Simpson gets back into the lineup. He and Burton will be a good preseason competition to watch.

      1. I really hope the keep Burton instead of Aromashadu. He caught close to nothing when the ball was in sight, even though he was target more than 80 times..

  4. Yay!! Looks like the Vikes are finally signing their draft picks, Cole and Guyton are both inked.

  5. Adam, Keep writing and I will keep coming back.
    Saulsberry started 49 games along the Oline at Miss State. A lot to like about this kid, I agree… however, he only started 6 games at center while at Miss State and at 6’2 300lbs he would be our smallest olineman.

    It is hard to put a price tag on good veteran leadership. You are right, we do need some veterans.

  6. Good article. I would be surprised if they don’t keep 5 defensive tackles like they did last year. I could also see one of the younger guys getting the spot from Evans.

  7. I think there will be some changes to the roster that some Vikes fans won’t like. Like Winfield being cut. Which was brought up before.

  8. I think the biggest positional battle will come down to that 4th DE position. Think the Vikings are sending a message to D’Aundre Reed that he needs to step it up. Not only did the Vikings draft DE Trevor Guyton in the 7th round, but they also when out and signed former Seahawks 7th round pick DE Nick Reed.

    Nick set the Oregon career record with 29.5 sacks, a number that ranks fourth in Pac-10 Conference history and 10th in the NCAA major college ranks. His 51.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage also set an Oregon all-time record and placed fourth in conference annals while ranking 14th in college football history. He registered at least one sack or tackle for loss 23 of his final 26 contests.

    Nick lead the Seahawks with 4.5 preseason sacks as a rookie. Nick also has expereince on the kickoff and kickreturn teams. Nick is a tweener guy that might be a bit undersized for a DE, but he is faster than D’Aundre and Guyton and also has more overall experience. A DE that can play special teams and also fill in as a depth chart LB might be what the Vikings are looking for.

    I can’t wait for these 3 to battle it out in camp. I just wish I lived closer to Mankato.

    1. Carl….one more of those and professor Fragile will need to flunk you from his world famous plagiarism 101 course….good golly man, throw in a quote mark or reference.

  9. In his first game in a NFL uniform, Nick Reed blocked a punt, sacked the QB twice, deflected a pass, had a tackle for a loss and intercepted a pass. The QB he tormented? Former San Diego Charger and current Seahawk Charlie Whitehurst.

    Reed’s 2009 preseason stats? 14 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 int, 2 FF, 1 blocked punt.

    If Nick Reed brings that kind of energy to the Vikings… watch out D’Aundre

    1. I actually really like the potential of D’Aundre Reed. He was kept on the roster entire last season for a reason. I think the coaching staff are higher on him than most realiaze

  10. I think vikings will be keeping 6 wr’s when Jerome Simpson comes back from his suspension. Could it be a safety / linebacker losing their spot instead of one of the WRs

  11. Malte-
    You are right; the Vikings must like something about this kid. Last year I was hearing nothing but rave reviews of how great D’Aundre Reed was looking in camp. Maybe he was hurt in preseason? I can’t remember. But it just seems like Reed is all hype and potential with no production.

    During his entire career at Arizona he only produced 56 solo tackles… and Reed finished as a 5th year senior.

    As a rookie (preseason and regular season) for the Vikings he was credited with 0 tackles.

    Yea, I know, I am from the old school where you earn roster spots by hard work and making plays on the football field. I guess I am not ready to be quick to just give him a roster spot agian this year with out seeing something other than potential.

  12. I think Sherels sticks, Adam, although I don’t have the answer to who he bumps. I agree that Asher should be history, but that will take someone showing something to make that happen. I’m sure Rick will be watching the wires closely in several positions, and I gotta believe that OL will be near the top of that list. Not sure we have the necessary bodies on the roster for that position.

  13. Fragil Fred – Flunk me if you wish… but 3 out 4 of those paragraphs were my words. The Oregon records paragraph was a cut and paste job. I did eliminate some info.

    Anyway, can I do some extra credit to bring my grade back up?

    1. Lucky for you Carl, professor Fragile grades on a curve. If it makes you feel better you could tutor Coach B. Grant for some extra credit. Believe me, it won’t be easy…. the old guy is pretty set in his ways.

  14. I would keep Asher Allen.With the injuries he had to check the other teams number one.Some games he played respectable. I would keep him as a nickle. I would cut Antione Winfield or trade him and his salary. He was getting roasted by the third receiver on third and long. Hes a year older and the injuries are starting. He was very good until last year, but his time has come. Better to let him go a year early than a year late. Let Asher or Marcus continue to improve.