Gargantuan Position Group Will Lead to Some Unexpected Cuts

NFC Rivals Could Play Spoiler to Ideal Vikings Draft Scenario
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah the team's year-end press conference for the 2022 season after losing to the New York Giants in the playoffs.

The Vikings added six players in the draft and 15 more as undrafted rookies. Some of them have a clear path to playing time, like Jordan Addison, the first-round wide receiver, or defensive back Jay Ward, who could secure the nickel cornerback job.

Others like Mekhi Blackmon and DeWayne McBride enter position battles. Blackmon will face last year’s rookies, Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth, in a race for the second starting CB job next to Byron Murphy. McBride has to fight off Ty Chandler for carries and possibly even a roster spot.

Gargantuan Position Group Will Lead to Some Unexpected Cuts

The Vikings currently have some crowded rooms, something that is totally normal before the roster cuts happen after the preseason and training camp. However, if a roster has too many decent players in one position group, some players will get cut even if they are good enough to make the team. That fate will hit some of the Vikings’ defensive linemen.

Gargantuan Position Group Will Lead to Some Unexpected Cuts
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

Brian Flores currently has 11 interior defensive linemen on the roster. That is five too many. Last year, after trimming the roster down to 53 players, the Vikings initially retained six linemen.

Of those players, Harrison Phillips and free agent signing Dean Lowry appear to be safe on the team. Phillips played well in his debut season with the Vikings team and can play both nose tackle and defensive end. In some games, he will be a disruptive force. His so-called revenge game against the Bills comes to mind. Usually, he is a decent player who flies under the radar without any splashy plays but does the dirty work so others can feast.

Lowry has his struggles against the run but is a good pass rusher, possibly the best on the roster. The Vikings just handed him a new contract, and he will surely be on the team. He signed a two-year contract, with the first year fully guaranteed. The team can’t move on from him anytime soon.

Veteran Jonathan Bullard re-signed with the team that surprisingly named him a starter last year. He signed a one-year contract with only $50,000 guaranteed. He played in 12 games, starting 7, and was on the field for 319 snaps. It speaks for him that he earned starts last year, but the type of contract he signed doesn’t automatically secure a spot.

Vikings Keep Free Agent Defender in the Building
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Khyiris Tonga is an interesting player. He came out of nowhere last year, the Bears cut him, and he played wonderfully. PFF graded him as a top-15 defensive lineman. He was ranked between Dalvin Tomlinson and Javon Hargrave. Both signed huge deals seven weeks ago. Of course, both have a much larger sample size. Tonga now has to show if it was a fluke because of the small sample size or if he is the real deal.

James Lynch is entering his fourth NFL season, the final year of his rookie contract. He was incredibly productive in his college career, but in his time with the Vikings, he has never been more than a backup. He started two games last season and saw the field on 276 plays. Barring a surprise jump, he is a replacement-level player, and the Vikings might just do that and replace him.

Ross Blacklock was a trade acquisition after the team surprisingly cut Armon Watts. He has not been very good for the purple team. The lineman only appeared on 139 snaps and recorded just two tackles and one sack. The former second-round pick could very well be the odd man out.

Is London to Blame for the Vikings in Week 4?
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

Esezi Otomewo was a fifth-round selection last year. The former Gopher has always been viewed as a project because of a position change. He was used on the edge in college. He played in five games and 89 snaps. The Vikings must decide if he improved and the project is worth a roster spot.

Sheldon Day was on the Vikings practice squad last season but didn’t play in a game. He has a lot of experience. Day had stints with the Jaguars, 49ers, Colts, and Browns and started three of his 67 career games. T.J. Smith was on the practice squad for two years and played in two games. Neither should be expected to end up with a roster spot.

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings also added two rookies. Jaquelin Roy, a fifth-round pick out of LSU, is a talented player. Minnesota traded up to get him. In the pre-draft process, he drew some comparisons to ex-Viking Dalvin Tomlinson. He will be on the team and might be able to carve out a nice role.

Undrafted rookie Calvin Avery has a long way to go, like every UDFA, but he is a large human being, 6-1 and 343 pounds. Humans that size don’t often come around. It might be his ticket to the team.

Expect five of those players, even some contributors in recent years, to be out of their jobs in early September — maybe two of them can be placed on the practice squad. The good thing for Vikings DC Flores is that he can build his DT room with many different body types and skill sets.

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