Carl: Josh Thomas, CB
When the Vikings agreed to terms with Josh Thomas on July 24, I didn’t think he had much of a chance to make the 53-man roster. After a strong camp and a great showing against the Raiders (six tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception), Thomas is making a case that he belongs on this football team. With Josh Robinson on the PUP, Jabari Price looking at a two-game suspension and Stefon Diggs flashing as the real deal for punt returner (sorry Marcus Sherels), Thomas might be earning more than just a short-term look. With 10 starts under his belt with the Carolina Panthers, the 2011 fifth-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys may not be a “major” surprise at this point, but he is peaking at the right time and earns my pick to make the cut.
Brent: Chase Ford, TE
Going out on an absolute limb here. I realize it seems crazy to carry four tight ends — but I wonder if the Vikings choose to carry an extra tight end in place of a fullback. As I’ve noted in my piece projecting the final 53-man roster, I would value Ford’s receiving abilities more than I would Line’s lead blocking. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I like the opportunity to run the offense in more 3 WR sets without a lead blocker, and Rudolph’s injury history leaves me wanting another receiving tight end. Additionally, Ellison’s and Pruitt’s ability to fill in as a lead blocker if needed ensures the Vikings don’t need to be forced to carry a fullback.
Andy: Justin Trattou, DE
It was a toss up between CFL aficionado Brian Peters and the fifth-year defensive end from Florida. Sorry, Super Bowl Champion & BCS National Title Winner Justin Trattou (have to go with the full title). Trattou has The Gerald Hodges Factor to him — whenever he’s on the field, good things happen. It’s been true in his limited action the past two seasons (and last preseason) as a Viking and this exhibition stretch as well. The Man from Maywood has six tackles, a sack, and two passes defended through three games that don’t count. Scott Crichton looked decent in his first action of the season and is obviously on scholarship being a third-round selection last season (he redshirted last year basically, too) and Danielle Hunter is a lock as well, being this year’s edition of a third-round defensive end pick and a dark horse candidate for Mr. Mankato. But I think Trattou has a shot to make the 53 to start the 2015 season (signed as a free agent Week 6 of 2013, began 2014 on the practice squad), if the Vikings decide to carry five defensive ends. Ironically, I think Trattou would see regular action first if heaven forbid Everson Griffen or Brian Robison went down, but he’s expendable, as Crichton or Hunter would never make it through waivers trying to sneak them down to the practice squad. I’m on #TeamTrattou, though, and think he’ll have a solid 2015 season if he gets in the ranks of Zimmer’s platoon.
Austin: Brian Peters, LB
at some point this season.
Lindsey: Tyrus Thompson, OL
There are a few names floating through my head on this question (my wishful thinking wants to go with Chase Ford), but I’m landing with Thompson. The rookie didn’t have a fantastic end to camp, which could hurt him, but he still offered plenty of glimpses at a player who’s higher caliber than the late-round pick many expected. I’d say worst-case scenario he holds a practice squad spot, but I really think he has a chance at ending up in the final 53. Especially considering Phil Loadholt being out for the season, the Vikings need some depth at the line. Carter Bykowski is also out for the season, and Babs won’t make the cut. I think I’ll be the unpopular opinion taking Thompson over Austin Shepherd, but there you have it; I’m predicting that Thompson’s experience at left tackle could give him the upper hand here.
We’ll forego the poll this week, because there are so many possibilities of guys to put there, but we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!