It’s time to bravely don my predicting hat and take a stab at the Vikings’ 53-man roster. August 31 8 PM CT is the deadline for reducing rosters from 75 to 53, so we’ll find out in a couple days how well I did. This endeavor is of course complicated by Jerome Simpson’s suspension. The Vikings will take an extra wide-out with them into the season and then decide what to do with him after three games. Let us begin…
Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, Sage Rosenfels
The McLeod Bethel-Thompson story was a nice way to spruce up a boring stretch of training camp but we know now he was never seriously in the mix. I assume the Vikes will try to stash him on the practice squad. There’s nothing coming out of Bill Musgrave or Leslie Frazier to suggest any disillusionment with Joe Webb. They’re fine with him as their #2. Sage is Christian’s sounding board.
Running Back/Fullback (4)
Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Matt Asiata, Jerome Felton
Despite a fumble, Asiata showed enough last Friday night to lock down the #3 running back spot. I think the Vikes probably wanted to get a better look at Jordan Todman as a potential change-of-pace back but injuries hampered him. Asiata looks like he can catch as well as run and he’s able to play fullback in a pinch too. Versatility is helpful.
Tight End ( 4)
Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison, Allan Reisner
With John Carlson now back and practicing again, this group is set in stone. Rudolph looks like a Pro Bowler in the making and Ellison has shown the array of Kleinsassery skills the Vikings expected from him when they shocked the world by drafting him.
Wide Receiver (5)
Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins, Jarius Wright, Stephen Burton, Devin Aromashodu (Jerome Simpson)
The Vikes appear to have already made up their minds about the whole Devin Aromashodu or Manny Arceneaux thing. Which is strange because Aromashodu really hasn’t shown anything hardly at all. I guess it’s the old “when in doubt go with the more experienced man” philosophy. Anyway, Aromashodu will probably be cut after Jerome Simpson comes back so who cares. Generally speaking this receiver group has been unimpressive. I’m still waiting for Jarius Wright to do anything.
Offensive Line (8)
Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Geoff Schwartz, DeMarcus Love, Joe Berger
Berger is the most valuable back-up. Schwartz is insurance behind Fusco (I still think Schwartz ends up starting before too long). Chris DeGeare looks like he’s headed back to the practice squad.
Defensive Line (9)
Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Fred Evans, Christian Ballard, D’Aundre Reed, Nick Reed
The logic here is that, if the Vikings are going to rotate in and out linemen like they plan, they’ll need numbers and they’ll need versatility. This argument would seem to favor Trevor Guyton over Nick Reed but I think Reed has shown up too much in preseason to be left out. Fred Evans should be pushing Letroy Guion for a starting spot right now but there’s no way Leslie Frazier will bump an injured guy. Everson Griffen is going to get a lot of action all up and down the line, including at the nose in pass rush situations. There should be enough here to mix and match effectively.
Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, Erin Henderson, Marvin Mitchell, Tyrone McKenzie, Larry Dean
This really comes down to who gives you the most insurance behind Jasper Brinkley, who looked better on Friday but still has a way to go. The Vikings could still pluck another guy off the waiver wire but we’re leaving that out of this equation. Among guys already on the roster, Tyrone McKenzie is really the only viable choice. I don’t see Larry Dean or Audie Cole as a MLB. I’m dumping Cole simply because I don’t think he has the quicks. Those two interceptions were cute and people will be ticked when he doesn’t make the team but them’s the breaks. You can’t make roster decisions based on what got the fans jacked up for a minute. Dean moves better, simple as that.
Antoine Winfield, Chris Cook, Josh Robinson, Chris Carr, Marcus Sherels, Zack Bowman
If Jarius Wright shows anything as a punt returner in the last preseason game, Marcus Sherels will get the heave-ho in favor of Brandon Burton. But as things stand now the Vikes have to keep Sherels to return punts, and Bowman has to stay around over Burton because you need the experienced depth. There’s another scenario where they take 7 corners and only 8 defensive linemen in which case Burton and Sherels would both be safe with Reggie Jones as the last man out.
Harrison Smith, Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo
This comes down to Sendejo vs. Eric Frampton. Sendejo is currently injured which may ruin things for him but if his ankle problem isn’t too bad, I take him over Frampton. I get the whole “Frampton is a special teams captain and a favorite of Mike Priefer” thing but you have to weigh the value of that vs. his value as legitimate depth. And frankly Frampton has zero value in that department. Sendejo can surely run down on special teams coverage with no problem and he’s an actual viable safety, which Frampton is not.
Kicking Unit (3)
Chris Kluwe, Blair Walsh, Cullen Loeffler
Blair Walsh needs to get consistent. If Kluwe keeps booting it the way he has in preseason he’ll be in the Pro Bowl. If he keeps talking to Deadspin he’ll be in Roger Goodell’s doghouse.