Will the Vikings Have Surprising Cuts?

Justin Jefferson / Bisi Johnson
Nov 29, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) laughs with wide receiver Bisi Johnson (81) on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie camp is underway across the NFL. The Vikings coaches are getting their first look at their draft selections. This is always an exciting time in the NFL.

Every year rookies and tryouts get to show their talent to the world. For early draft selections like Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr., it’s not about making the team. For them, it’s about proving they are capable of being a starter come September.

However, for late-round picks like Nailor and Chandler, they need to prove they belong in the league. Rookie camp is their first opportunity to do so. At this stage, they are only trying to prove they belong in the same sentence as Cine and Booth.

Although, as camp progresses and moves into OTAs and training camp, things get more real. These guys have to prove their worth.

Are they ready to make the 53-man roster? Or are they only good enough for the practice squad? Or worse yet, will they get cut and have their dreams shattered?

Only time can answer these questions. However, we could see some surprising cuts this summer.

Can Ty Chandler Be RB2?

Mar 3, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; North Carolina Tar Hels running back Ty Chandler. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

One player I am watching this year is Ty Chandler. He is an interesting prospect who has a real chance to make the 53-man roster. If he makes the 53, who gets cut?

Well, we know which running backs don’t. Dalvin Cook is not going anywhere, and Kene Nwangu will be the kick returner. This only leaves one man, Alexander Mattison.

This might freak some fans out, which is understandable. After all, when Cook has been injured, Mattison has been able to produce. And make no mistake, Cook will likely miss time this season.

However, there is one key problem with Mattison. He makes the incorrect read too frequently. One of the most notable times this happened was against the Seahawks in prime time.

It was 4th and 1, and if the Vikings get a 1st down, they can win. They hand the ball to Mattison, and he cuts back directly into a defender. Of course, the Vikings wind up losing the game.

Mattison’s mistake in reading the field is a major problem. Unfortunately, it might never be corrected. The good news is that Ty Chandler doesn’t seem to have this problem. In fact, making the correct read is one of his strengths.

This leads me to believe that Mattison could be out the door. However, Chandler still needs to prove himself worthy. It’s not like he is a second-round draft selection guaranteed a roster spot.

Could There Be Changes in the Receiver Room?

Dec 30, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Jalen Nailor. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

Every fan knows that the three main receivers will be Jefferson, Thielen, and Osborn. However, after that, things get interesting.

The Vikings have a few quality options for wide receivers four and five. Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Bisi Johnson, and Jalen Nailor have legitimate potential to fill these roles. Although, one of these has the upper hand.

Smith-Marsette should run away with the wide receiver four spots. He showed some great potential late in the 2021 season. Additionally, he is likely the punt returner for 2022, which guarantees him a spot.

Bisi Johnson’s route to the 53-man roster is not so clear-cut. He is coming off of an ACL injury and will need to prove himself all over again. Although he did have a solid rookie season, and if he can replicate that performance, he has a real opportunity to make the team.

However, Nailor is solid. He has big-play ability, can catch, and has great top-end speed. This gives him the upper hand to a recovering Bisi Johnson.

In fact, Nailor is going to demolish Bisi in camp. This will lead the Vikings to cut Bisi or put him on the practice squad. Although, he is good enough to make an NFL roster, so don’t be surprised when another team signs him immediately upon being released from the Vikings.


Mitch Massman is a life-long Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3