The 7 Biggest Surprises from Vikings 2023 Roster Cuts

Coach Power
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell looks on from the sideline against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings pruned the 2023 roster from 91 players to 53 on Tuesday in accordance with the NFL’s deadline for the regular season.

Minnesota hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 11 days to get the 2023 party started.

The 7 Biggest Surprises from Vikings 2023 Roster Cuts

You can have a look at the 53-man roster here.

And these are the seven biggest surprises from the roster trimdowns, ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most surprising).

7. Three Kwesi Picks Not on Roster

The 7 Biggest Surprises
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the 2023 NFL Combine the Week of February 27th. The Vikings have the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Three men selected by the Vikings young general manager did not make the 2023 active roster, at least not initially Esezi Otomewo (DT), Vederian Lowe (OT), DeWayne McBride (RB).

One could look at this two ways: a) Adofo-Mensah poorly drafted the low-rounders, resulting in the waivers of Otomewo and McBride, plus the Lowe trade to New England b) He knows when to cut players loose, and not retaining late-round picks isn’t a big deal.

You decide.

6. Luiji Vilain Waived

7 Predictions for Vikings Training Camp
Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Luiji Vilian (43) performs a drill during mandatory minicamp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Vilian played wonderfully in the preseason, so much so that a roster spot on Tuesday felt like a no-brainer.

But no cigar, as the Vikings now hope he’ll clear waivers and join the practice squad. Vilain is a classic example of preseason prosperity not directly translating to active roster placement.

5. Just Three OTs

Vikings OL Will Be Fine
Aug 27, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Oli Udoh (74) stretches before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings opted to keep three offensive tackles Christian Darrisaw, Brian O’Neill, and Oli Udoh. That isn’t very many, and for now, they have no potential practice squad OTs.

Somebody will likely be signed for this spot, especially because Darrisaw and O’Neill were injured, at times, in 2022.

4. Joejuan Williams Released

Minnesota Vikings CB Joejuan Williams addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Thursday, July 27, 2023. Williams joined the Vikings via free agency in April 2023 and was a 2nd-Round draft pick by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots four years ago.

Williams started the summer running with the first-teamers on defense, wound up on the roster bubble, and was on the outside looking in Tuesday.

He was one of the few veteran CBs on the depth chart, and now he’s an honest-to-goodness free agent. Most Vikings faithful had him penciled in at CB3 or CB4.

3. Six Safeties

The Vikings Have a Brand
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) during the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

It would’ve been a little “overkill” had the Vikings kept five safeties. But then they giggled and kept six. Newcomer defensive coordinator Brian Flores must have grand plans this season involving safeties galore.

Every safety sans Jake Gervase, who joined the team a few days ago, made the 53-man roster. Wowzers.

2. NaJee Thompson Completes Momentous Summer

NCAA Football: New Orleans Bowl-Louisiana Tech vs Georgia Southern
Dec 23, 2020; New Orleans, LA, USA; Georgia Southern Eagles wide receiver NaJee Thompson (6) catches a pass against Louisiana Tech Bulldogs during the first half of the New Orleans Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports.

Thompson proved for “those in the back” that special teams matter. The Georgia Southern alumnus played like an actual machine in the preseason via punt return coverage and earned a roster spot accordingly.

He told the world on the X app, formerly known as Twitter, a few months ago that he was the best special teams commodity in the country. Apparently, he wasn’t lying.

1. Three Rookie UDFAs Made the Final Cut

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr. (LB23) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Ivan Pace Jr. (ILB), Andre Carter II (OLB), and the aforementioned Thompson (CB) did the thing this summer and will be a part of the 2023 Vikings. They didn’t even have to marinate on the practice squad.

For a team that said goodbye to Adam Thielen in March and his rags-to-riches tale, Minnesota now has three additional youngsters following Thielen’s footsteps who will be incredibly easy to cheer for on Sundays.

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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