Vikings Roster Ranking from ESPN Is All Too Familiar

The Vikings 2022 Offense by the Numbers: after Week 17
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. © Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

The Minnesota Vikings spent the 2023 offseason transforming their roster into an enterprise with young, fast, and affordable talent, shedding contracts of aging veterans with a buzzsaw.

Vikings Roster Ranking from ESPN Is All Too Familiar

Newcomers like Byron Murphy (CB), Marcus Davenport (OLB), and Josh Oliver (TE) arrived from free agency, while Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Eric Kendricks, Za’Darius Smith, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Patrick Peterson, among others, left for other destinations.

Indeed, Minnesota is ‘living in both worlds’ with general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s plan to competitively rebuild. So when ESPN ranked every NFL roster from head to toe this week, the Vikings No. 16 placement was all too familiar.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) reacts after breaking up a pass against the New York Jets during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Most analysts ‘can’t figure out’ the Vikings roster-building plan, calling it a ‘tear down’ or ‘identity crisis.’ The team knows exactly what it’s doing, but the talking heads struggle to understand. Therefore, Minnesota checks in at the middle of many tiered-ranking lists, and the ESPN roster edition is no different.

Sandwiched between the Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 15) and Detroit Lions (No. 17), ESPN’s Mike Clay nominated the cornerbacks as Minnesota’s weak spot and explained, “Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, Cameron Dantzler and Duke Shelley were Minnesota’s top four corners in 2022 snaps, and none are on the 2023 roster. Byron Murphy Jr. was a quality replacement for Peterson atop the depth chart, but the rest of the room is unproven, with a combined 297 NFL snaps. Recent Day 2 and 3 draft picks Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth Jr. and Mekhi Blackmon are ticketed for massive roles this season.”

Could Move Down
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) in the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The offensive tackles, headlined by Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw, were defined as the team’s keynote strength.

ESPN’s Seth Walder also identified rookie running back Dewayne McBride as a nonstarter to monitor, “The rookie seventh-round pick led the FBS in rushing yards per game and was fifth in rushing yards after contact last season. While Alexander Mattison is the new starter, he recorded negative-42 rush yards over expectation last season according to NFL Next Gen Stats, so don’t be stunned if McBride gets a look.”

Last Man
Nov 13, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; UAB Blazers running back DeWayne McBride (22) celebrates after running for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports.

Like the ESPN roster ranking, the Vikings live in the middle of Vegas’ win-loss projections. They’re slated for 8.5 wins in 2023, the same total that followed the team last summer before Kevin O’Connell and friends ripped off 13. Minnesota’s Super Bowl moneyline is around +4000.

Ranks Vikings among
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on during the third quarter against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

No Vikings coach has encountered a losing record in his second year with the team since 1962.

ESPN called the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 1), Philadelphia Eagles (No. 2), and Buffalo Bills (No. 3) the top rosters in football. The Indianapolis Colts (No. 30), Los Angeles Rams (No. 31), and Arizona Cardinals (No. 32) lived in the naughty zone.

Vikings training camp kicks off for rookies in 23 days. Veterans report two days later on July 25th.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by