Janik Eckardt’s Vikings Roster Projection | 1.0

nick mullens
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2024 Minnesota Vikings have met for their annual OTAs or organized training activities. Not every player showed up to the voluntary workouts, as star wideout Justin Jefferson copied his strategy from last year and wasn’t present at TCO Performace Center. He’s still waiting for his deserved contract extension.

Janik Eckardt’s Vikings Roster Projection | 1.0

vikings roster
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings currently have 91 players under contract, one over the usual limit of 90. When they signed tight end Sammis Reyes, they were granted a roster exemption because of the international pathway program. After training camp, though, the Vikings must, like all teams, cut enough players to have a 53-man roster. Here is what that group could look like.

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

— Offensive Roster Projection — (24)

Quarterback (3)

QB1: Sam Darnold
QB2: J.J. McCarthy
QB3: Nick Mullens

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Jaren Hall

Sam Darnold and shiny rookie passer J.J. McCarthy will compete for the starting role in Week 1. That race can go either way, but Darnold should be considered the favorite, as he was signed to play until a rookie is ready, and the Vikings have made clear that they will be cautious with their first-rounder.

Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall fight for one remaining roster opening. Mullens was the superior player in 2023, and the veteran has already earned praise from new arrivals McCarthy and Darnold. Hall is a prime candidate to be stashed on the practice squad, but the Vikings could trade gunslinger Mullens to a QB2-needy team, opening the QB3 role for Hall.

Monitor Key Offensive
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) dives for the end zone as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) and Cincinnati Bengals safety Dax Hill (23) defend in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Running Back (3)

RB1: Aaron Jones
RB2: Ty Chandler
RB3: Kene Nwangwu

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: DeWayne McBride, Myles Gaskin

Aaron Jones is asked to revive the rushing attack in bad shape. Ty Chandler will play a prominent role on offense, while Kene Nwanwgu will primarily be on the team to return kicks.

Fullback (1)

FB1: C.J. Ham

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: n/a

Not every team employs a fullback, but the Vikings have been committed to C.J. Ham for years, making him a team captain and handing him long-term contracts. He doesn’t log many touches but has a role as a third-down pass-blocker, run-blocker, and special teamer.

Wide Receiver (5)

WR1: Justin Jefferson
WR2: Jordan Addison
WR3: Brandon Powell
WR4: Jalen Nailor
WR5: Trent Sherfield

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Trishton Jackson, N’Keal Harry, Malik Knowles. Thayer Thomas, Ty James, Devron Harper, Jeshaun Jones

The top duo of Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison is written in stone, but the group’s depth is mysterious. Brandon Powell performed well in 2023, and Jalen Nailor showed flashes in his rookie season in 2022, but injuries have slowed him down. Trent Sherfield was added in free agency.

That trio has the track record to be ahead of the undrafted rookies and sophomores, who could make a splash by contributing on special teams. Trishton Jackson and N’Keal Harry played minor depth roles last season.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Tight End (3)

TE1: T.J. Hockenson [PUP]
TE2: Josh Oliver
TE3: Johnny Mundt
TE4: Robert Tonyan

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Nick Muse, Trey Knox, Sammis Reyes

Top tight end T.J. Hockenson is rehabbing his knee injury; his timeline is unknown. However, it is fair to expect him to miss the early portions of the season, so he will be stashed on the PUP list and doesn’t count towards the roster total.

Like last year, once Hockenson was out, blocking specialist Josh Oliver and versatile tight end Johnny Mundt will see increased workloads. The recent signing of Robert Tonyan will provide some pass-catching talent, leaving Nick Muse as the odd man out.

Left Tackle (2)

LT1: Christian Darrisaw
LT2: Walter Rouse

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: n/a

Longtime backup Oli Udoh is out in Minnesota. The Vikings spent pick 177 on Oklahoma’s starting left tackle Walter Rouse to be Christian Darrisaw’s primary alternative.

Tennessee Titans center Ben Jones (60) and offensive tackle David Quessenberry (72) head onto the field before a game against the New Orleans Saints at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021.
Titans Saints 111421 Aan 013

Right Tackle (2)

RT1: Brian O’Neill
RT2: David Quessenberry

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Jeremy Flax, Spencer Rolland

Veteran David Quessenberry was signed right before the 2023 campaign and will continue to be Brian O’Neill’s backup. Undrafted rookies Jeremy Flax and Spencer Rolland will compete for a fifth tackle spot, should the Vikings want to keep one.

Center (2)

C1: Garrett Bradbury
C2: Michael Jurgens

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: n/a

Seventh-rounder Michael Jurgens replaces Austin Schlottmann as the depth center behind Garrett Bradbury.

Left Guard (2)

LG1: Blake Brandel
LG2: Dan Feeney

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Henry Byrd, Doug Nester

Dalton Risner wasn’t re-signed, leaving converted tackle Blake Brandel as the favorite to open the season as a starter, backed up by journeyman Dan Feeney.

2nd Year Viking
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Right Guard (1)

RG1: Ed Ingram

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Tyrese Robinson, Matthew Cindric

Ed Ingram has solidified his role as starter, and the Vikings hope for another jump in year three. There will not be a backup, as Feeney functions as a swing alternative.

— Defensive Roster Projection (26)

Defensive Lineman (5)

DL1: Harrison Phillips
DL2: Jerry Tillery
DL3: Jonathan Bullard
DL4: Jaquelin Roy
DL5: Levi Drake Rodriguez

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Jonah Williams, James Lynch, Taki Taimani, Tyler Manoa

A revamped group, the Vikings failed to add any big names but at least signed some players with the skill set to get after the quarterback. Undrafted rookie Taki Taimani is the choice if the Vikings want to keep another nose tackle, while veterans James Lynch and Jonah Williams would be in the mix to claim a spot if rookie Levi Drake Rodriguez isn’t ready.

draft grade
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Outside Linebacker (5)

OLB1: Jonathan Greenard
OLB2: Andrew Van Ginkel
OLB3: Dallas Turner
OLB4: Jihad Ward
OLB5: Gabriel Murphy

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Andre Carter, Patrick Jones, Owen Porter, Bo Richter

The top three guys will undoubtedly make the roster, but the other spots are open for competition. Last year’s contributors, Patrick Jones and Andre Carter, will be replaced by the experienced Jihad Ward and undrafted rookie Gabriel Murphy, who has shined in his final collegiate season.

Middle Linebacker (4)

MLB1: Blake Cashman
MLB2: Ivan Pace
MLB3: Brian Asamoah
MLB4: Kamu Grugier-Hill

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: William Kwenkeu, Abraham Beauplan, K.C. Cloyd, Dallas Gant

Blake Cashman claims the top role of departed Jordan Hicks. Ivan Pace and Brian Asamoah remain from last year, and Kamu Grugier-Hill replaces Troy Dye as the depth linebacker with a special teams focus.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback (7)

CB1: Byron Murphy
CB2: Shaquill Griffin
CB3: Akayleb Evans
CB4: Mekhi Blackmon
CB5: Andrew Booth
CB6: Khyree Jackson
CB7: NaJee Thompson

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Jaylin Williams, A.J. Green, Dwight McGlothern

Special teams ace NaJee Thompson and six true cornerbacks make the roster. The unusually high number transpired because the Vikings suddenly have good depth at the position after adding two players while not losing anyone. Andrew Booth is a prime candidate to be traded.

Safety (5)

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

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: There’s no spot on the roster for Lewis Cine, and he needs to show real growth in the next three months to make it. Jay Ward is a superior special teams player, and Theo Jackson is clearly ahead of him on the depth chart.

— Special Teams Roster Projection (3)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Kicker (1)

K1: Will Reichard

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: John Parker Romo

There will be a battle in training camp, but rookie Will Reichard is the favorite because the Vikings invested a sixth-rounder in him.

Punter (1)

P1: Ryan Wright

Projected to Miss 53-man Roster: Seth Vernon

Ryan Wright’s struggles in his sophomore season led the Vikings to add another punter, and it’s an open competition.

Long Snapper (1)

LS: Andrew DePaola

Pro Bowler Andrew DePaola is not facing any competitors.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Kick Returner

KR1: Kene Nwangwu
KR2: Ty Chandler

Last season, Chandler returned the kicks whenever Nwangwu was out. There’s no need to change that, although the undrafted wideouts could enter the mix.

Punt Returner

PR1: Brandon Powell

Powell did a fine job fielding punts in 2023.

The Vikings are coming off a 7-10 season in which they finished third in the NFC North. Neither the Packers nor the Lions are expected to fall off, while the Bears have landed two highly-touted rookies. Minnesota holds the worst odds to win the division, and the win total is set at 7.5.

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