Janik Eckardt’s 53-Man Roster Projection for Vikings | 3rd Preseason Game

Minnesota Vikings tight end Nick Muse (34) gets around Tennessee Titans safety Mike Brown (44) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Training camp is over, and the Vikings play their final preseason contest on Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell must trim down the roster to 53 players on Tuesday, August 29th.

Janik Eckardt’s 53-Man Roster Projection for Vikings | 3rd Preseason Game

With the starters expected to rest, the backups and rookies will get plenty of chances to solidify their roster spots or gain ground on those currently favored over them.

Minnesota has just over two weeks to get ready for the regular season, and the roster will change between now and September 10. Here’s a look at how the 53-man roster might shakedown.

Note: Many ‘projected to miss 53-man roster’ players will hit the practice squad.

— Offensive Roster Projection — (25)

roster projection
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback (3)

QB1: Kirk Cousins
QB2: Nick Mullens
QB3: Jaren Hall

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Jordan Ta’amu

Nick Mullens solidified his spot as Kirk Cousins’ backup quarterback in the first preseason game. He is the better QB than rookie Jaren Hall at this point. However, the Vikings keep their fifth-rounder as a developmental passer.

Running Back (3)

RB1: Alexander Mattison
RB2: Ty Chandler
RB3: Kene Nwangwu

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: DeWayne McBride, Abram Smith, Aaron Dykes

The Vikings keep only three running backs, and DeWayne McBride is the odd man out. He was clearly outplayed by Ty Chandler, and Kene Nwangwu offers elite return ability.

Fullback (1)

FB1: C.J. Ham

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: n/a

C.J. Ham will play a bigger role than last season.

Wide Receiver (5)

WR1: Justin Jefferson
WR2: K.J. Osborn
WR3: Jalen Nailor
WR4: Jordan Addison
WR5: Brandon Powell

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Jalen Reagor, Blake Proehl, Lucky Jackson, Thayer Thomas, Garett Maag, Jacob Copeland

Brandon Powell beats out Jalen Reagor as a punt returner, making the former first-rounder expendable.

Tight End (3)

TE1: T.J. Hockenson
TE2: Josh Oliver
TE3: Johnny Mundt
TE4: Nick Muse

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Ben Sims, Colin Thompson

Johnny Mundt was praised as the league’s best TE3 by Kevin O’Connell and is a virtual lock to make the team at this point. Nick Muse has done enough in the preseason to warrant a spot in a tight end-heavy offense.

Left Tackle (2)

LT1: Christian Darrisaw
LT2: Vederian Lowe

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Jarrid Williams

Sophomore Vederian Lowe takes over for Blake Brandel Christian Darrisaw’s backup.

Right Tackle (2)

RT1: Brian O’Neill
RT2: Oli Udoh

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Christian DiLauro

Oli Udoh ran with the first team in Brian O’Neill’s absence and will revert to the backups once the Pro Bowler is healthy.

Center (2)

C1: Garrett Bradbury
C2: Austin Schlottmann

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: n/a

Just like last season, Austin Schlottmann will back up Garrett Bradbury.

Left Guard (1)

LG1: Ezra Cleveland

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Josh Sokol, Jack Snyder

Blake Brandel will function as a swing guard replacement.

Right Guard (2)

RG1: Ed Ingram
RG2: Blake Brandel

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Chris Reed, Alen Ali

The Vikings have decided against adding competition for Ed Ingram as they bank on a second-year jump.

— Defensive Roster Projection (25)

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Outside Linebacker (5)

OLB1: Danielle Hunter
OLB2: Marcus Davenport
OLB3: Patrick Jones
OLB4: D.J. Wonnum
OLB5: Luiji Vilain

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Andre Carter II, Benton Whitley

Defensive End (4)

DE1: Harrison Phillips
DE2: Dean Lowry
DE3: Esezi Otomewo
DE4: Jaquelin Roy

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Jonathan Bullard, Ross Blacklock, Junior Aho, Sheldon Day

Nose Tackle (1)

NT1: Khyiris Tonga

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: T.J. Smith, Calvin Avery

The Vikings keep five players for three spots across the defensive line. Marcus Davenport will also line up inside at times.

Middle Linebacker (2)

MLB1: Brian Asamoah
MLB2: Troy Dye

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Tanner Vallejo, Abraham Beauplan

Troy Dye’s special teams prowess earns him a roster spot.

Weakside Linebacker (2)

WLB1: Jordan Hicks
WLB2: Ivan Pace, Jr.

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Troy Reeder, Wilson Huber

Ivan Pace’s hype train will not be stopped, and the UDFA signing upsets the experienced linebacker Troy Reeder.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback (6)

CB1: Byron Murphy
CB2: Akayleb Evans
CB3: Mekhi Blackmon
CB4: Joejuan Williams
CB5: Andrew Booth
CB6: NaJee Thompson

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Tay Gowan, Kalon Barnes, C.J. Coldon, Jaylin Williams, Jameson Houston

NaJee Thompson had an outstanding preseason debut on special teams, and coordinator Matt Daniels will pound the table for him when Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has to trim the roster to 53 players.

Safety (5)

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

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Theo Jackson, Jake Gervase

Rookie Jay Ward wins a close race against Theo Jackson as a Swiss army knife safety.

— Special Teams Roster Projection (3)

Kicker (1)

K1: Greg Joseph

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: n/a

Incumbent kicker Greg Joseph beat challenger Jack Podlesny, who was released.

Punter (1)

P1: Ryan Wright

Long Snapper (1)

LS: Andrew DePaola

Kick Returner

KR1: Kene Nwangwu
KR2: Ty Chandler

Punt Returner

PR1: Brandon Powell
PR2: Jalen Nailor

big week for
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota is projected with a repeat win forecast this season as of early August — 8.5 wins. It’s the same Vegas forecast from last year at this time. Most experts believe the franchise immensely overachieved in 2022 with a 13-4 record and will take a step back in Kevin O’Connell’s second year. The franchise has +4000 Super Bowl odds — sharing probability space with the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints.

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