The Surprising Part of ESPN’s 53-Man Roster Prediction for Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings have about 26 hours to whittle the current roster to 53 players, with the NFL’s deadline looming Tuesday at 3:00 pm CST.

The club has released about 15 players in the last day.

The Surprising Part of ESPN’s 53-Man Roster Prediction for Vikings

Vikings fans and pundits, meanwhile, try to prognosticate the 53-man roster in advance, and ESPN joined the fun last weekend. Kevin Seifert’s twist on the final roster was pretty standard, but he did serve up one surprise the Vikings evidently keeping six safeties.

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At the time of this article’s publication, this is the Vikings safety group:

S1: Harrison Smith
S2: Camryn Bynum
S3: Lewis Cine
S4: Josh Metellus
S5: Jay Ward
S6: Theo Jackson

And according to ESPN, that group may not change one bit.

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Seifert explained, “The Vikings truly had six safeties in camp who looked like they can play. Cine’s late-camp injury, and the performance of both Ward and Jackson, leaves them with all six on the active roster.”

Minnesota entered last season with just four safeties Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum, Lewis Cine, and Josh Metellus so two more would emphatically be a change of pace. The franchise hired Brian Flores in February after parting ways with Ed Donatell following the playoffs loss to the New York Giants in January. With a new sheriff in town, the Vikings could reasonably keep six safeties.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Mason Kinsey (12) evades Minnesota Vikings safety Theo Jackson (25) during practice in Eagan, Minn., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Jackson is the wildcard for ESPN. Most projections toss him on the practice squad while keeping Smith, Bynum, Metellus, and Cine. But Jackson did provide an impressive showing at training camp and in the preseason, perhaps prompting a challenging decision for the aforementioned Flores and head coach Kevin O’Connell.

The Vikings skipper recently said about Jackson and his rookie teammate, Ward, “Theo Jackson and Jay Ward, if you were ranking training camps that guys have had, those two guys would be on the top tier of some of those rankings because of the production.”

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Seifert also left preseason hero Nick Muse, a tight end, off his final projection, stating about the TE room, “Hockenson’s inactivity for most of training camp — his equilibrium was affected by an ear infection, he said — might make it necessary to have a fourth tight end available for game day. But the guess here is that Nick Muse would pass through waivers and onto the practice squad if the Vikings choose to go in that direction.”

Muse epitomizes the Vikings roster bubble in 2023.

The Vikings first regular season game gets underway in 13 days at U.S. Bank Stadium versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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).

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