5 Takeaways from Vikings Unofficial Week 1 Depth Chart

Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell takes to wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday to open their 2023 season. After ending with a 13-4 record in 2022, Kevin O’Connell’s operation will try to repeat that kind of success, although that will be hard as the team was universally pegged as lucky. Regardless, with the departure of Aaron Rodgers, the division is wide-open, just like the entire NFC isn’t viewed as strong as the AFC.

5 Takeaways from Vikings Unofficial Week 1 Depth Chart

The Vikes updated their depth chart for the first time since trimming the roster down to 53 players last week, and we’ve learned some things about the team.

1. Chandler, Not Gaskin Is RB2

5 Takeaways From Vikings Unofficial Week 1 Depth Chart
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) carries the ball while being defended by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jon Rhattigan (59) after making a catch during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

Alexander Mattison has been the starter all training camp and preseason, and he is the starter on the depth chart, no surprise there. Behind him, however, there have been some questions since the Vikings signed free agent Myles Gaskin, an experienced running back with a history as a starter in the NFL.

Still, the organization lists preseason darling Ty Chandler as Mattison’s backup and Gaskin as the third-string player. It will be the first time in roughly one-and-a-half decades that the purple team will not go into a season without Adrian Peterson or Dalvin Cook expected to lead the team in carries. Mattison will get the majority of touches, but Chandler is an excellent change-of-pace player.

2. The Rookie Has to Wait

Jordan Addison was brought in in the first round of the draft to play a significant role in the offense for years to come, but he might not have that big of a role in Week 1 as he is listed behind starters Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn. Giving the veterans the nod over the newcomer is common practice and no reason for concern.

One Viking Oddly
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison on stage after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings twenty-third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

It is certainly possible that Addison will still log massive snap numbers, but the Vikings wanted to do the veteran a favor. Osborn is a valued member of the franchise. His reliability and ability to help in both the passing game + the running game as a blocker might have given him the edge. Jefferson didn’t start for a couple of weeks and still broke the rookie receiving record.

Jalen Nailor is also listed as a backup, and punt returner Brandon Powell is the only third-stringer.

3. Defensive Line Order

In the last few months, it was expected that Harrison Phillips, Dean Lowry, and Khyiris Tonga would be the three starting linemen, and they were listed as such on depth charts throughout the preseason, but defensive coordinator Brian Flores doesn’t think so. Phillips is listed as the top nose tackle, and Tonga is his backup.

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) reacts after making a tackle against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

At the two defensive end spots, Lowry is one starter, and Jonathan Bullard is the other one. Bullard also surprisingly won a starting gig in 2022. Backup DE rookie Jaquelin Roy could play a serious rotational role.

4. No Pace

Undrafted first-year player Ivan Pace has been the sensation of training camp. He didn’t just earn a roster spot. He made his case to contribute early and frequently. However, the Vikings are sticking with their starting duo of Brian Asamoah and Jordan Hicks.

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Theo Jackson (25) and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) tackle Seattle Seahawks running back Zach Charbonnet (26) during the game at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Pace is listed as Hicks’ backup, and Troy Dye will be Asamoah’s reliever, although the trio of Asamoah, Hicks, and Pace should rotate a lot in the upcoming season with Flores’ affinity for versatility. Pace brings a different energy than the other guys and his intriguing skillset as a pass-rusher.

5. Chandler Replaces Nwangwu

Chandler easily won the camp competition for the RB2 job against the injured Kene Nwangwu by simply staying healthy. But Nwangwu’s most significant role is on special teams as one of the elite kick returners in the game. He was placed on IR with a back injury, and someone has to take over for the All-Pro.

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) hands the ball off to Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Chandler is the guy in charge of returning kicks, something he did in college at Tennessee and North Carolina. Throughout his college career, he logged 37 kick returns for 850 yards and 1 touchdown. Wideout Powell won the punt return job and is listed as the backup kick returner.

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