Janik Eckardt’s Vikings 53-Man Roster Prediction 2.0
The Minnesota Vikings have played two preseason games so far and will play their third and final one on Saturday in Denver. Eighty players are currently on the active roster. Next Tuesday, however, the NFL teams have to trim their roster to just 53. But which players currently have the inside track for roster spots?
- Keep: Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens
- Cut: Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion
Once the Vikings traded for Nick Mullens, the fate of Sean Mannion was sealed. Kellen Mond, however, is in an interesting spot. It’s possible that the Vikings want to keep the young quarterback and try to develop him. If the Vikings cut him, another team will likely pick him up, so they could opt to keep him as QB3 on the team.
- Keep: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler, C.J. Ham
- Cut: Bryant Koback
Teams usually don’t carry five running backs, but they all are too valuable to be cut. Cook is the obvious starter, and Mattison has shown to be a solid backup. Nwangwu and Chandler have flashed during the preseason, and the Vikings could try to trade Mattison. The Vikings worked on many plays with a fullback all year, so cutting him would mean they wasted their time in the last months. He’s an excellent weapon as a blocker and receiver or runner. In addition to their worth for the offense, Nwangwu and Ham are important special teams contributors. Koback could be a candidate for the practice squad.
- Keep: Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Olabisi Johnson, Trishton Jackson
- Cut: Jalen Nailor, Myron Mitchell, Dan Chisena
The top four are safe. Behind them, however, a lot of good players fight for the remaining spots. Trishton Jackson was a camp standout and surpassed Mitchell and even Nailor. The latter was a sixth-round pick and would be the next receiver in line. Chisena could make the team due to his special teams’ prowess. Blake Proehl is also on the reserve PUP list and can be activated after the first four games. Multiple players will land on the practice squad. The Vikings have great depth at the position.
- Keep: Irv Smith Jr, Johnny Mundt, Zach Davidson
- Cut: Ben Ellefson, Nick Muse
Smith is entrenched as the top tight end, and Mundt is the top backup. He’s a good blocker and has shown enough as a pass catcher. The final spot is a close race. Davidson has a lot of upside as a receiver, while Ellefson is a blocking specialist. It could easily go either way. Nick Muse, a seventh-round pick, is a great candidate for the practice squad. His performance in the preseason game against the 49ers showed some potential.
- Keep: Christian Darrisaw, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Ed Ingram, Brian O’Neill, Blake Brandel, Chris Reed, Jesse Davis, Vederian Lowe
- Cut: Oli Udoh, Timon Parris, Kyle Hinton, Austin Schlottmann, Wyatt Davis, Josh Sokol
The first five players named will start. Brandel and Lowe are tackle depth, while Davis and Reed are interior backups. Davis can’t be cut because of the structure of the contract. Reed could be cut in theory, and he already missed a long time due to injury. However, he makes the team in this prediction because he’s a good and versatile player.
Udoh got outplayed by Brandel, while Lowe is a better bet for the future after two good games in the preseason. Hinton and Schlottmann also played well in the preseason, but the numbers didn’t allow to keep an additional player. If the Vikings cut one of the veteran interior backups, Hinton or Schlottmann are the top two options to make the team.
- Keep: Dalvin Tomlinson, Harrison Phillips, Armon Watts, James Lynch, Jonathan Bullard, T.Y. McGill
- Cut: Jaylen Twyman, Esezi Otomewo, T.J. Smith
Tomlinson, Phillips, and Watts will be the starters. The other six have to fight for their spots, but Lynch, Bullard, and McGill have been better than Twyman, Otomewo, and Smith. The potential of Twyman and Otomewo could land them a roster spot. If they end up cut, the Vikings should try to stash them on the practice squad.
- Keep: Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, D.J. Wonnum, Patrick Jones, Zach McCloud
- Cut: Janarius Robinson, Luiji Vilain
The two starters, Hunter and Smith, are obvious choices. Their backups are Wonnum and Jones. Especially Jones has looked excellent in the preseason. Undrafted rookie McCloud makes the team over 2021 fourth-rounder Robinson, but the practice squad makes sense for him and Vilain.
- Keep: Eric Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, Brian Asamoah, Blake Lynch
- Cut: Troy Dye, Chazz Surratt,
Kendricks and Hicks will form an excellent linebacker duo. Asamoah has shown flashes of greatness in the preseason and will play a role as a key backup and rotational player. It’s tricky to choose between Lynch and Dye. Lynch has outplayed Dye, but Dye is still playing above him in the preseason. Ryan Connelly is on the reserve PUP list.
- Keep: Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, Andrew Booth Jr, Akayleb Evans, Chandon Sullivan, Nate Hairston
- Cut: Kris Boyd, Parry Nickerson,
Peterson, Dantzler, and Sullivan will start, while Booth will try to find a way to get on the field as a second-round rookie. Nate Hairston gets the edge over Boyd because he can play in the slot and provide depth behind Sullivan. The Vikings may prefer Boyd’s special teams ability and keep him over Hairston. Another possibility is to keep just five cornerbacks on the roster.
- Keep: Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum, Lewis Cine, Josh Metellus
- Cut: Myles Dorn, Mike Brown
It’s unclear who will start next to Harrison Smith. It’s either second-year player Camryn Bynum who had a great training camp, or first-round rookie Lewis Cine. Cine showed his elite speed in a few plays during the preseason. Josh Metellus completes the safety Quartett. He is a great special teams player.
- Keep: Greg Joseph, Jordan Berry, Andrew DePaola
- Cut: Ryan Wright
Joseph already beat out his competition Gabe Brkic a while ago, and DePaola will be the long snapper. The two punters still battle for the job. Wright has a strong leg but lacks consistency at this point, so the edge goes to Berry.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt