Speculation

53-Man Final Roster Prediction

We have published two final roster predictions here at Vikings Territory since the NFL Draft took place. The first was in May, with Brent LaBathe taking an early stab.

The second was when Austin and I compiled results from reader votes, and Adam Patrick’s “Top 30″ series,” where we just filled in some holes to make a final roster prediction. That one published at the onset of training camp.

Now, with training camp and two preseason games behind us, I’m going to try my own hand at the age-old practice and see how things shake up. Complaints, of which I’m sure many of you will have many, can be dropped in the comments section below.

53-Man Final Roster Prediction

QUARTERBACK

Teddy Bridgewater

Shaun Hill

Thoughts: The Vikings likely will not find it necessary to use a valuable roster spot on Joel Stave or Brad Sorensen. They have been rumored to be eyeballing outside backup options, including Nick Foles at one point, but barring any major developments I see them rolling with Bridgewater and Hill until such point that Taylor Heinicke returns healthy.

RUNNING BACK

Adrian Peterson

Jerick McKinnon

Matt Asiata

Thoughts: I really wanted to keep Zach Line on this football team. In the end, however, he was my 54th player and when I scoured for someone else to cut besides him, I decided that he was just the least valuable to this football team and ended the true fullback era in Minnesota. The eventual return of Rhett Ellison makes this a fairly low-risk proposition.

C.J. Ham and Jhurell Pressley have each had nice moments so far this preseason, but it remains to be seen if either of them can unseat Asiata. At this point, I’m guessing the Vikings would like to keep the dependable Asiata and get one of the other two through to their practice squad.

TIGHT END

Kyle Rudolph

Mycole Pruitt

David Morgan

Thoughts: I do think Rhett Ellison returns to this roster once healthy, but there are very few indications that it will happen before Week One. The selection of David Morgan has helped shape things up, however, as it appears very evident that he is a cut above his competition of Brian Leonhardt and Kyle Carter. Morgan has been one of the most impressive rookies throughout the process thus far.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Matt Kalil

Andre Smith

T.J. Clemmings

Willie Beavers

Thoughts: The retirement of Phil Loadholt provided some clarity to this spot. Matt Kalil, for better or worse, will get another season at left tackle. Andre Smith and T.J. Clemmings are currently battling for the starting spot at right tackle, and that battle could very well carry over into the regular season, to be honest. Lastly, I kept Beavers on the roster despite his struggles due mainly to his draft position and my own belief that the Vikings won’t be willing to bail on him before the season even starts. Besides, if they see him as a worthy project either at tackle or guard, then they might as well keep him as we’re in big trouble anyways if he ends up active and playing on game day… that means too many injuries have occurred.

GUARD

Alex Boone

Brandon Fusco

Mike Harris

Jeremiah Sirles

Thoughts: Outside of the starters, presumably Boone and Fusco, I’m betting the Vikings are looking to house guys with some flexibility and experience at multiple positions. Listing Beavers as a tackle, above, is certainly not 100% accurate… but either is listing Harris strictly as a guard or Berger strictly as a center… so don’t get hung up on that.

If the Vikings end up in emergency mode on the offensive line, things could get real ugly real quick, so I see them keeping a high quantity of backups able to slide around on the line.

CENTER

John Sullivan

Joe Berger

Thoughts: I’m still not 100% convinced that Sullivan can be considered healthy and back to his old self. Luckily, the Vikings have a very adequate Plan B in place with the return of Berger. If even more depth is required, then Nick Easton and Zac Kerin could both be on Rick Spielman’s speed dial or even ready to bring up from the practice squad.

WIDE RECEIVER

Stefon Diggs

Charles Johnson

Jarius Wright

Laquon Treadwell

Adam Thielen

Cordarrelle Patterson

Thoughts: Like every other Vikings fan around, I think I haven’t gone through a day in months without wondering how this log jam will play out. I do think that the six names above are the six that make the roster, barring injury. How the Vikings stack them, and use them each on game day, remains to be seen.

The guys being released, in this situation, make for some interesting practice squad potential without a doubt… including that German Randy Moss we heard so much about up until we didn’t.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Blair Walsh

Jeff Locke

Kevin McDermott

Thoughts: Walsh and McDermott, with healthy contracts, will be in no danger. Locke seems likely, at this point, to keep his job until the start of the season whether we like it or not. Still, Locke remains one of the team’s most easily replaced players if he continues to perform poorly.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Linval Joseph

Sharrif Floyd

Tom Johnson

Shamar Stephen

Thoughts: The Vikings have a lot of defensive tackles on the roster right now. Ten, to be exact, and that high number makes me wonder if they won’t try and keep five when all is said and done. Still, Brian Robison’s ability to slide inside on passing downs leaves me confident with the guys listed above. Tom Johnson could start for a number of teams, and is particularly useful on passing downs, whereas Shamar Stephen has consistently flashed dominance throughout the preseason. If they can stay healthy, this should be an improved group over last year for that reason alone.

DEFENSIVE END

Everson Griffen

Danielle Hunter

Brian Robison

Justin Trattou

Thoughts: This is a dangerous group of pass rushers all the way through. Robison appears poised to be more of a joker moving about within Zimmer’s defense, but he and Hunter will be primarily responsible for the left end position across from Everson Griffen. Adding Trattou back into the mix means this position has great talent and depth… perhaps the best group of defensive ends in the NFL right now.

MIDDLE LINEBACKER

Eric Kendricks

Audie Cole

Thoughts: The injury to Kendricks is not ideal, as the Minnesota Vikings envision him as a superstar within their defense, but all indications are that it is a temporary set back. Cole provides depth behind Kendricks, with Brothers and Greenway (below) having the experience that would suggest they are capable of sliding inside in emergency situations.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

Anthony Barr

Emmanuel Lamur

Chad Greenway

Edmond Robinson

Kentrell Brothers

Thoughts: I’m not sure Chad Greenway has done anything to secure a roster spot this preseason, but I’m also guessing that Zimmer’s admiration for Greenway is genuine and that the lifetime Viking will be allowed to retire after that one last season he wants to play. Still, his role will be reduced, and he may find himself losing very significant time to Lamur and Robinson. Brothers has shown me enough to make me think the Vikings will keep him on board as the seventh linebacker and as a special teams contributor.

CORNERBACK

Xavier Rhodes

Trae Waynes

Captain Munnerlyn

Mackensie Alexander

Marcus Sherels

Tre Roberson

Thoughts: Since the moment the Vikings drafted Mackensie Alexander I thought Terence Newman could be in trouble, and I still think that is true after watching him struggle against Seattle on Thursday. The top four guys listed here are locks. Sherels is still the primary punt returner, with no signs suggesting anything different, and he showed he isn’t totally inept as a defender when he housed an interception to win the game on Thursday.

That really leaves Newman and Roberson battling for a roster spot. Roberson has done well enough this offseason that the Vikings have to be concerned about their ability to stash him on the practice squad. Afterall, good cornerbacks do not grow on trees… but old ones do regress and then retire. If the Vikings believe Waynes is ready to start, then I see little sense in keeping the older and more expensive Newman over the promising young project that is Tre Roberson. Besides, Mike Zimmer surely has Newman’s number in his cell should the injury bug strike once the regular season starts.

SAFETY

Harrison Smith

Andrew Sendejo

Michael Griffin

Anthony Harris

Jayron Kearse

Thoughts: Antone Exum Jr. has played better this preseason than I ever would’ve predicted, but his taunting penalty also illustrates why he cannot be trusted to play smart. Harrison Smith will obviously be a starter, and the list above gives Zimmer a number of options when it comes to filling the space beside him. Griffin is the NFL veteran looking to revitalize his career, Sendejo has experience under his belt, Harris is looking to take a leap after an impressive first year, and Kearse is a physical specimen that seems like a perfect fit for Zimmer’s science lab.

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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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35 Comments

    1. True. Might. We’ll see.

      If he is, obviously that impacts things. If he is expected by the team to be healthy by Week Two or Three, however, I don’t know that he’s a PUP candidate given the already shaky nature of our O-Line.

    1. No quibble? You don’t know how this works, do you? lol, thanks for the comment.

      1. Seriously, where’s Mike Kano when you need him? the king of quibblers. Nice analysis Adam.
        What is the extent of Harris’s injury?
        Wonder how serious Rhodes hammy is? Has anyone heard?
        And the scariest question; Why isn’t Teddy getting ant snaps this week in practice after not playing Seattle? Injury?

        1. Mike Kano has been busy teaching me how to eat chicken drumsticks.
          He sticks the entire drumstick in his mouth and then when he pulls it out, viola!
          Not a lick of meat on that bone. It’s amazing!

          1. Lol big sister.. Keep ’em coming! Er.. I mean figuratively with comments not literally with Cantletgo…. Hell, you know what I mean!!

          1. Agreed, Tomb. Mike Kano was a colorful douche….

            …..’cept now he’s a colorful douche with a stick up his okole

            And the smart money play is that the stick isn’t the gear shifter in BJBS tow truck

            1. You mean you guys are saying that you miss someone that resorts to name calling, claims to be holier than thou, and/or can’t be wrong due to his advanced intellect; when you disagree with him regarding Adrian? LOL Every time he would post I would think of the Seinfeld episode…. Can’tstandya!!! You have a way with words tomb.. epic bag of douche?!! Ha!!

              1. Hey, hey, hey. I yield to no one when it comes to having had strong, heated exchanges with Mr. Kano, but name calling is beneath us, all of us.

                I would also add that as much as I have disagreed with Mr. Kano regarding Adrian Peterson, I have found him to be an otherwise intelligent and thoughtful fan of the game.

                1. cka2nd, I’d usually agree with you that devolving into name calling is not productive.

                  But, surely you must concede that that fellar’s attempts at condescension were a bit beyond the pale. Belittling every commenter on an entire website is not someone looking for friendly banter.

                  1. While I will concede that I found both his arguments and attitude wearing during the debates over Peterson, the man and player – I can’t say Peterson’s defenders on either point were never guilty of a slip, but yes, Kano did not help himself with his condescension and self-righteousness, and his feelings about Peterson the man did seem to me to color his opinion of Peterson the player – I do not remember having a problem with how he conveyed his opinions on other subjects. I certainly can’t say that my heart has never overridden my head, or that I’ve always caught myself before I pressed the “post” button for a comment I wished I could have taken that extra minute to think about or cool down.

                    Mike Kano can be a royal pain in the butt, but he ain’t a troll, and I’ll take a smart and occasionally condescending and self-righteous pain in the butt over a troll any day of the week. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

                    1. Mike Kano is Royalty? Really?

                      That means if we ever got married, I would be a Princess. Or maybe a Prince.

                      Time for this girl to get serious with those estrogen treatments

  1. I like this overall with two exceptions and one caveat.

    I think Zach Line will be kept over Mike Harris. Harris is still a mystery whom I assume can be placed on the NFI equivalent of the PUP and then be re-evaluated later. I don’t see us keeping 10 lineman right off the bat.

    I don’t see Roberson as being ready to contribute at all right now, and I don’t think others know enough about him to poach him. Roberson seems like a perfect PS candidate. I still want Newman as part of the DB “transition” team for Waynes plus he has flexibility for any of the DB positions. He may have too much pride to be as on-call as you suggest. If Newman IS cut, it makes more sense to keep Price over Roberson at least for now. (Personally, I think Roberson is probably a better QB than Stave or Sorenson…but that’s a different story.)

    My caveat is that no one else has suggested we keep 5 safeties though I personally like the idea. I sure would like to a little of Anthony Harris this preseason. He’s not as much of a lock as some seem to make him out to be. What happens if Exum plays game 3 like he did game 1 and Harris is still hurt?

    Great job. I hope we get more discussion on this.

    1. The status of Harris is obviously an important one… and I can’t claim to know which way that will fall come September. But if he’s expected to be healthy within the next month I certainly think he makes the team… we’ll see.

      Line and Newman are obviously the big omissions here… every year there are always some, and time will tell if I’ve identified them. I really don’t feel confident in the Line cut, but I just don’t see what value Newman has to this team if Waynes and Mack are at all ready for action (they are – me thinks).

      His contract is heavy on game-by-game bonuses for a reason, and Roberson has shown plenty to suggest he is worthy of being a team’s sixth CB… and not many teams are as crowded at the position as we are. Even if they get him through to the PS, when injuries start piling up around the league he’d be easily plucked and justifiably so. Newman is old, looked to me like he’s regressed some (preseason, I know), and has no place on this team beyond 2016 unless he’s ready to coach. See a lot more upside with Roberson, as Newman’s veteran expertise and mentoring is utilized leading up to the season. The long-term risk of losing Roberson is far greater than the long-term impact of losing Newman – and if Waynes is starting instead of Newman his value lessens greatly.

      I like keeping five safeties because of Zimmer’s willingness to play three at once, their individual skill sets, and the potential possessed by some of the younger guys. I can’t figure Exum out… but I know I like him less than the five guys I have making the cut.

      Thanks for the thoughtful response!

      1. Thank you for the response!

        My suggestion for keeping Newman is mostly for the Waynes transition period. I agree he has no real future and that Roberson is young and very intriguing.

        The suggestion that Roberson could eventually be signed by another team is valid, but I think he is safe on the PS early during the season. Perhaps the Waynes transition is only for a few games to make sure he isn’t absolutely and completely lost. Newman could “retire” with dignity knowing that his mentorship as a peer has been successful. He might rather view it that way than as someone who has been beaten out and relegated to the bench for his final season after a more-than-respectable career. This could open the door for Roberson before the PS hunting season is in full swing.

        I assume you think Price is done as a Viking?

        Thanks again

    2. Good points Mark. Your “aside” in your second to the last paragraph brings to light something that I had not thought about before you wrote it. Keeping Roberson would allow them to have an emergency QB on the roster. The operative word being EMERGENCY. But I would suppose Jerrick could fill that role if Teddy and whoever is #2 were to go down in the same game. I would like to point out though.. They need Harris, I sure hope he returns. No way he is not on the roster if he does. Also, not possible to have too many corners. Sherels can suffice in a pinch, but is he a better option than Roberson at CB?

    1. I was waiting for your response regarding Adam’s prediction for Zach! I think Beavers is headed for the practice squad, so Zach instead of him on the 53.

      1. I just can’t see Beavers on the PS. We usually dress 7 OL on game day and keep 2 (maybe 3 if we keep 10 OL on the 53) for future / long-term injury purposes. Last year Kerin and Shepherd were game day actives and Sirles and Easton were kept but never active. This year I can see Clemmings and Berger as the non-starting actives. Berger can handle the inside positions for in-game issues with Clemmings serving as the backup swing tackle. Shep and Kerin are likely to fall all the way from 2015 actives to 2016 PS members.

        Beavers and Sirles will be developmental guys on the 53. Easton may join Kerin and Shep on the PS if we devote 3 of the 10 slots to the OL. If the coaches really love Easton, the surprise cut could be Sirles!

        1. Could be Mark, but placing Beavers on the practice squad would carry no risk. Unless Harris can’t return and Fusco plays as poorly as he did last year, they are set at guard.

  2. If Michael Griffin doesnt beat out Sendejo I cant imagine we’d keep him over Exum at this point with Griffin being 32 this year and you try telling AP he doesnt get a FB this year and he just might smack you with an orange peanut…lol

  3. I’d bet on Line or Exum staying over Michael Griffin given his age, but I’d be happy either way. There aren’t many bad decisions they could make with this roster. This year’s group is the deepest I’ve seen in my 10 years of watching the team. If you ask me, Jabari Price is the worst guy on the roster right now and he’s not even bad

    1. Antone Exum is probably my favorite safety on this team not named Smith. He hits like Sandejo, maybe even harder, and he covers much better. But dammit, he just doesn’t fit with what Zim wants. I can see Antone blowing people up as part of the Legion of Boom. Or worse yet, as a Packer!

  4. No way Newman gets dumped.Seriously,look at that list of corners and tell me you’d be comfortable with Alexander or Sherels starting if Rhodes or Waynes gets injured.

  5. Not only do we keep both Line and Newman, but I bet Zim sees both of them as week one starters.

  6. QB – Two is probably right for opening day, with Heinicke bumping someone from the roster when he returns. Stave looked better against the Bengals than the Seahawks and may earn a spot on the practice squad.

    RB – Line makes the team, in part because he’s a fullback who you can actually imagine running with the ball more than twice a year, but mainly because he gives the team additional flexibility so you don’t have to keep using tight ends in the backfield. This roster spot is made up from the offensive line.

    TE – Spot on. Morgan just might have the most impact of any rookie this year if Treadwell can’t break into the starting line-up. Ellison will remain under contract for the whole season, I think, but whether he ever makes it onto the active roster is another question.

    OL – Mark is absolutely right, there is no way the team keeps 10 offensive linemen on the active roster. I’ve been saying since his signing that if Smith didn’t win the starting RT job, he’d gets cut, and I think that is exactly what will happen. Injuries are the huge x-factor with this unit, more than any other on the team because so many of the starting and back-up positions are still up in the air.

    If Fusco and Harris ARE healthy:
    Starters: Kalil (S***!), Boone (unimpressive so far, including in the running game), Berger (Sullivan just isn’t all the way back, yet), Fusco or Harris, depending on who is healthier, and Clemmings
    Back-ups: Sirles, Shepherd, Fusco or Harris and Kerin.
    Practice Squad: Easton and Beavers.

    If Fusco and Harris are NOT healthy:
    Starters: Kalil, Boone, Sullivan, Berger and Clemmings
    Back-ups: Sirles, Shepherd, Easton and Kerin.
    Practice Squad: Beavers.

    Specialists – Yup, yup, but Adam, go search Jeff Locke on Pro Football Focus. He’s their top-rated punter of the pre-season, so far! It looks like I can finally retire my plaintive cry of “Bring back Kluwe!”
    that
    WR – No arguments, but Thielen may very well be our new slot guy and No. 3 receiver, and it could be Wright, not Patterson, on the trading block (Please God, for a back-up run-stuffing nose tackle). I’m crossing my fingers that MoBo still has a shot at the practice squad.

    DL – I’d still like some more beef backing up Joseph, but Stephen has looked better than Kenrick Ellis and got some nice penetration against the Hawks. Stephen Weatherly, who might have given Trattou a couple of restless nights after the Bengals game, and maybe Toby Johnson are headed for the practice squad.

    LB – Honestly, I would love to see Greenway retire before the season starts. If that doesn’t happen, Brothers is off to the practice squad and the extra roster spot goes to CB.

    CB – Newman makes the top six. I think Price has actually looked pretty good, so he and Roberson will duke it out for the seventh CB slot on our active roster, the loser going to the practice squad, assuming Price is still eligible for it. Whoever CB 7 is will probably lose his roster spot to Heinicke or Ellison when either one returns.

    S – As with Andre Smith, I’ve been saying all along that Griffin gets cut if he doesn’t win the starting job opposite Smith. So far, Sendejo is winning, so Griffin goes and Smith and Sendejo are backed up by Harris, Exum – who has looked darn good, much to my surprise – and Kearse. Kearse is a practice squad candidate, but I haven’t seen any of the borderline guys at running back, in the receiving corps, on the DL or at linebacker more deserving of a roster spot than Kearse at this point, and a tenth offensive lineman is just not as useful for special teams than another fast, hard-hitting defensive back.

    A 53-man roster with 12 defensive backs, only two quarterbacks and only four running backs could only be possible in the NFL of the Two Thousand Teens, but there it is. Fullbacks, H-backs and tight ends are somewhat interchangeable, the running game isn’t quite what it once was, although we’ve heard that before, and our best option at QB 3 should re-join the team at some point during the season, restoring some sense of balance to the universe.

    1. One correction: In the event that both Fusco and Harris are healthy and Berger starts at center, Kerin would be shuffled off to the practice squad while Sullivan backed up Berger.

  7. Good job! No complaints here, except I would say they keep an extra corner and stay with Newman and get rid of Michael Griffen, while Griffen is athletic I would say he falls in the veteran category with Neeman and I trust the safeties we have to get the job done. I believe Griffens contract isn’t guaranteed?

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