Let’s take a stab at projecting the 53-man roster for the Vikings, keeping in mind that some of these guesses might look very bad after tomorrow night’s game – or very good depending on how things shake out.
Quarterback: Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder, Joe Webb
Running Back: Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Lorenzo Booker
Tight End: Visanthe Shiancoe, Kyle Rudolph, Jim Kleinsasser
Wide Receiver: Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins, Bernard Berrian, Jaymar Johnson
Tackle: Charlie Johnson, Phil Loadholt, Ryan Cook
Center: John Sullivan, Jon Cooper
Guard: Steve Hutchinson, Chris DeGeare
Defensive End: Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen
Defensive Tackle: Kevin Williams, Remi Ayodele, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, Christian Ballard
Linebacker: E.J. Henderson, Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Jasper Brinkley, Heath Farwell
Cornerback: Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Asher Allen, Chris Cook
Safety: Husain Abdullah, Tyrell Johnson, Jamarca Sanford, Eric Frampton
Kicker: Ryan Longwell
Punter: Chris Kluwe
Long-Snapper: Cullen Loeffler
I’m calling Jaymar Johnson a lock after his nifty punt return against the Titans. That leaves only one receiver spot open and a bunch of guys fighting for it. Bernard Berrian, despite what some people want to believe, is a lock. Unless I miscounted that’s 44 locks, leaving 9 spots open. And those 9 spots go too…
Fullback: Ryan D’Imperio
I think D’Imperio will probably be kept as the sole true fullback but I also think there’s a chance the Vikings could go with no real fullback and just use Jeff Dugan and Jim Kleinsasser in that role. Bill Musgrave said of the situation, ”There’s still a few guys that know the trade and can do a good job, and we have a couple candidates on our team to do that and fill that role.” Matt Asiata is on the roster too but, no.
Tight End: Jeff Dugan
This relic of the Brad Childress era has always been a poor man’s Jim Kleinsasser and always will be. There’s a chance the Vikings could instead go with rookie Allen Reisner who has turned heads in camp, and might represent a good pass catching TE to pair with Kyle Rudolph next year after Visanthe Shiancoe (probably) leaves. The Vikes could always elect to stash Reisner on the practice squad, or keep Reisner and not keep Ryan D’Imperio.
Wide Receiver: Greg Camarillo
I still think Camarillo is the safest choice among the receiver candidates who are not locks. He catches everything thrown to him and he gives you a punt return fall-back option. Donovan McNabb hooked up with him for a first down in the preseason opener, but Cam won’t get a chance to show his goods Saturday night against Seattle because he’s out with injury. This would be a good time for Devin Aromashodu or Manny Arceneaux or one of those other guys to step up big and give Leslie Frazier a good reason to bump the solid pro good-hands/no-speed Camarillo.
Tackle: DeMarcus Love, Patrick Brown
I wouldn’t say the Vikings love Love but they really like him. He stays because of his youth and potential, not necessarily because the Vikings would want to slide him in at left tackle in case Charlie Johnson doesn’t work out for one reason or another. That’s what Patrick Brown is for. The only reason Brown isn’t a lock is because Scott Kooistra is also around and I have no idea how they want to use him. He can play tackle – you probably don’t want him playing left tackle, but you don’t really want Charlie Johnson playing left tackle either, so… – and he can play guard. And who knows what will happen with Anthony Herrera, speaking of whom…
Guard: Anthony Herrera
Health is the thing working against Anthony Herrera. The Vikings have Chris DeGeare as a younger right guard option and Ryan Cook as a fall-back. They also have Scott Kooistra who I believe would be the man to take Herrera’s place on the roster if the Vikings decided to cut him.
Defensive End: D’Aundre Reed
He’s hurt, but I don’t see anyone else on the roster who is really in position to take his job away, so I think he’s more-or-less in as the fourth defensive end. More-or-less.
Linebacker: Ross Homan
Sorry Kenny Onatolu, but your value as a special teams guy doesn’t help you this year. Homan is a promising young linebacker and quite frankly Erin Henderson hasn’t proven jack yet. Homan by a fair margin.
Cornerback: Brandon Burton
Over Marcus Sherels, yes. By year’s end rookie Burton could easily be the nickelback. That’s how sad Chris Cook and Asher Allen are. Actually, in one early permutation of this projection, I thought about floating the idea of Allen being dumped in favor of Tony Carter but pulled myself back from the ledge at the last second. That couldn’t possibly happen, could it?
Summary: Note that I have taken four safeties, meaning Mistral Raymond is out. Raymond is in if they decide to go with 9 offensive linemen instead of 10, which could very well happen.