Predicting The Final 53 (Updated)

With two preseason games down, and two to go, I found myself considering a number of changes to my prediction of who would make the Vikings final 53-man roster.  The last time I wrote a prediction was just before the open of training camp and quite a bit has happened since then.  The players that made my previous cut, but no longer do, are marked with a strike.  The players that are new to my list are bolded.

Quarterback: Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Analysis:  No changes here.  MBT solidified his spot above Vandenberg with a solid performance last week, while Vandenberg didn’t even see the field.  Bill Musgrave recently made some comments about Joe Webb that have me considering only two quarterbacks making the roster, leaving Webb as a last resort, but I think that approach would be too unorthodox.

Running Back: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Bradley Randle

Analysis:  That third running back spot is still a mystery because there are a few players, including Zach Line and Joe Banyard, that are making cases for themselves.  Still, I feel like Randle provides the Vikings with the most upside and some serious special teams value.  Randle is penciled in very lightly at this point, though.

Fullback: Jerome Felton

Analysis:  Felton’s recent surgery has many assuming Zach Line will be on the opening day roster, but he is expected to ready by week one and Rhett Ellison acts as a quality backup at the position.  I just don’t see the Vikings dedicating two spots to fullbacks.

Tight End: Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison

Analysis:  Rudolph is on the verge of being a star, Carlson took a pay cut and has had a great training camp, and Ellison is incredibly reliable and underrated.  This should be a no-brainer.

Wide Receiver: Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Joe Webb, Stephen Burton, Rodney Smith

Analysis:  The first four there are pretty much cemented in place.  It is impossible to watch this offense, however, and not see how Rodney Smith and Stephen Burton have outplayed Joe Webb.  Webb offers some versatility, but I think that might provide more value to the Vikings on the trade block than it does during the season.  Still, he has an outside chance at beating out Smith.  Burton has been very good on offense and special teams this preseason and he has done a lot to earn another season with the team.

Offensive Line: Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt, Demarcus Love, Joe Berger, Charlie Johnson, Brandon Fusco, Jeff Baca, John Sullivan, Kevin Murphy

Analysis:  DeMarcus Love will not be on the opening day roster because of a suspension, but it remains to be seen if he’ll even be on the team after serving his time.  That makes the backup tackle spot the one with the biggest question mark, and none of the candidates have really stuck out, but I get the sense that Murphy provides the most upside.

Defensive Line: Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Lawrence Jackson, Kevin Williams, Sharrif Floyd, Christian Ballard, Fred Evans, Letroy Guion

Analysis:  D’Aundre Reed seems to have mildly developed into an interesting option, but I’m not yet convinced he can send Lawrence Jackson packing, otherwise defensive end is pretty settled.  Some of the second-tier tackles caught a break, however, when Christian Ballard left the team due to mysterious personal issues.  Based off of limited reps so far, I have given the nod to big man Anthony McCloud, but there is not much separating him from the rest of the group right now.  For now, though, I did not replace Ballard and am envisioning the Vikes rolling with eight D-linemen.
Linebacker: Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Desmond Bishop, Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges, Larry Dean, Marvin Mitchell, Michael Mauti

Analysis:  The Vikings have shown more confidence in Mitchell than I thought they would, and he may start ahead of Bishop, so I think he was my biggest mistake of the first draft of this prediction.  Mauti also appears to be healthy enough to contribute now, and has impressed so far, and I decided to keep him because I think the Vikings will do exactly that.  Dean has not really stood out to me, on defense or special teams, so I just don’t see him beating out the competition.

Cornerback: Chris Cook, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, AJ Jefferson, Bobby Felder, Marcus Sherels, Brandon Burton

Analysis:  I’ve seen a lot of Vikings fans speaking quite negatively about Sherels this offseason and I have to be honest, I like him more than most, and don’t think he is as bad as people make him out to be and is downright dependable on punt returns.  Still, both Felder and Burton have outplayed him at corner so far, and the Vikings have other interesting options at punt returner.

Safety: Harrison Smith, Jamarca Sanford, Mistral Raymond, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo

Analysis:  Undrafted rookie Brandan Bishop has been an interesting player to watch, but I’m not convinced he’s cracking the depth chart at this point, and is more likely to end up on the practice squad.  No changes here.

Special Teams: Blair Walsh, Jeff Locke, Cullen Loeffler

Analysis:  No Changes.  They are who we thought they were.

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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. What about Adam Thielen? I know he hasn’t had a lot of pre-season snaps but all I have heard is good positive things on him. And also, Joe Webb will make the roster, he is too athletic for the Vikings to let leave.

  2. Larry Dean – Cut?

    wow, that Blue Blazer lady from Valdosta State is gonna be royally P.O.ed

  3. Any rumors out there on Ballards issue? Strange. I cant argue with any of Adam’s choices, my thoughts exactly. I hope they can sneak guys like Line or Banyard onto the practice squad.

  4. Nice update Adam.

    In Frazier’s last press conference, he said Joe Webb’s ability to play as an emergency QB will probably not factor into his decision when it comes down to him making the roster or not.

    Webb might need to earn it as a WR. However, Musgrave seems to think anything is possible and didn’t rule out Webb never playing QB.

    R Smith, A Thielen and Bradley Randley can be hidden on the Practise Squad, at least for awhile.
    Z Line had other teams interested in him, so I think he will be hard to hide on the PS.

    I think Webb will win a roster spot over R Smith.. The Vikings will buy more time. But when Greg Child’s comes off the pup list in week 6… and all the WR and QBs are healthy, that will be the time the Vikings will cut Joe Webb if he is a non-factor.

    If other teams show interest in our practise squad guys… The Vikings can always move them up by cutting someone or putting someone on injuried reserve.

    1. Carl and I are in complete agreement about the Line vs. Randle. I agree with Adam in that it doesn’t make much sense to keep Line as what will amount to be a 3rd fullback, but I think they will have a much better chance of getting Randle through to the P-squad than Line. I’ve been extremely wrong about guys not making it through to the practice squad in previous years though, so maybe it works out for us. Thielen has dropped too many passes to make the active roster and I’m not sure he’s going to crack the practice squad either. I’m guessing they will try to trade Joe Webb to someone. I love the guy, but he should not make this team over Burton, Smith, or Summers based on what I’ve seen. If MBT were to get seriously injured in one of these next two games then I could see them keeping Webb to have a better emergency #3 QB, but I just don’t think he is a better receiver now or in the future than a couple of these other guys.

    2. Zach Line won’t be able to be hidden on the pratice squad.. Because of 1 good play? I understand it was an awesome rumble down, but that was all he had done in the preseason so far…

    1. I think he should as well. Smith and Burton are good….but Webb has TONS more upside.

  5. Every Viking coach and Speilman speak of Webb in the future tense. He’s staying, as is Sherels.

    1. They also spoke about Winfield’s 2013 role and his reduced snaps and his importance as a leader… About a week before cutting him.

  6. That was because of the money, otherwise he’d be here. Webbs a bargain, and he backs up 2 positions. He’s proven he can legitimately make plays, those other guys, not so much.

    1. Not saying you’re wrong. Webb was the most difficult decision to make when writing this up. Just saying, I don’t think you’ll catch any coach or GM talking about a current player in anything other than current or future tense… At least until they’re gone.

  7. If Webb is going to spend the entire season as one of the game day inactives it makes very little sense to keep him when he’s in the last year of his contract. He hasn’t really shown he has a role yet in the pre-season. It would be a shame to see a guy like Line, Smith, or Randle end up with some other team and turn into a regular starter in a couple years just to keep Joe around because he’s a great guy.

  8. It’s not just because he’s a great guy, Mr. T., it’s because he can make plays and has made plays, too. . The other wr’s havent shown anything. I’ve watched every minute of the Vikings and one stupid play from Burton in 2 plus years. And yes, part of the reason to keep Joe IS because of his character. AND his versatility. It’s a team sport. He’s just the kind of guy they want, T. Thats probably why they switched him to WR, so he can see the field and make plays with his legs. If anyone should be traded as you say,in the last year of the contract,standing on the sidelines, it’s Toby. And as far as my future tense observation, it’s different than with Harvin and that no intent bs, I don’t see the Vikings spinning it, I see Webb in their plans by the way they talk. Frazier is a crappy liar. They’ll need wr’s , too because Mr. OTA Simpson is a clown and will only disappoint, as will Burton and flavor of the week Rodney Smith, who will definately not make the 53. Webb and Sherels, going nowhere. Neither am I, I’ll be back to comment when the dust settles.

    1. If you’ve watched every minute of the Vikings than you know as well as I do that our offensive coordinator lacks the creativity to use Joe Webb in a way that will properly use his playmaking ability. That’s why I think they should just release him this year and keep two of Burton/Smith/Summers who all have contracts that extend beyond this season. I understand why some people are skeptical of Burton, but the general learning curve for WR’s (especially small school guys like Burton) is 3 years. Burton is entering his 3rd year and his physical skill set is every bit as good as Webb’s for a WR, it makes zero sense to cut him when he has had his best off-season and finally seems to be carrying over practice performance into games.
      Ultimately I wouldn’t be surprised at all if both Webb and Sherels make the roster, but I think it would be the wrong move. The x-factor with Webb is that they may be planning to use him to run some zone-read plays during the season. If that is the case then I would be fine with them keeping him, I just don’t want to see them bring him back and not use him at all. If they don’t have a plan like that for Webb than he’s not going to contribute much to the team on the field and he’ll be gone as a FA next year. One other thing to consider, Spielman is the one with final say on the roster decisions and he is going to be more cognizant of future contract situations when making that final say. Whatever happens, there is going to be some good football players that aren’t going to make the final 53. I forgot to throw some support Larry Dean’s way earlier. He is looking good on defense which is a huge change from last year in the pre-season when he just looked lost. The #’s may catch up to him though, unless they end up cutting Bishop…

    2. webb has done zero at the wr position in the preseason and training camp compared to Burton, who have had a couple of good catches (a long of 57) and great blocking on Line’s run, as well as a very good return, which got called back. Webb have made 1 good catch, and then a couple of must make catches.. so far burton is ahead in my humble opinion.

  9. Denzel needs to swallow hard, shake hands and wish Joe Webb a prosperous future. Right now JW is in the way of making up a roster. There is strong competition for those last few slots, and he isn’t a solid competitor for any of them. If they need an emergency QB, they can direct snap to AD. When our WR corps was a bunch of Wisconsin bar guys, his presence was acceptable, but not now.

    Yes, he’s a great guy and very athletic, but so are a lot of other guys who are not on NFL rosters. The simple fact is we don’t need him. He was an experiment which hasn’t worked.

  10. If the Vikings are going to keep Webb inactive all year, than yes I would agree to cut him.
    However, if the Vikings have a creative plan for Webb… I don’t think they will unveil it in preseason and let the cat out of the bag.

    Simpson and Burton looked pretty good in preseason last year, but did nothing in the regular season.