Minnesota Vikings: 53-man roster positional breakdown


Yesterday, the Minnesota Vikings finally released their 53-man roster for the beginning of the 2015 season. Not only does this mark the end of preseason, but it also marks the beginning of the regular season. Get excited, Vikings fans!

In this post, I’ll do my best to share my thoughts and break down the Vikings’ 53-man roster by position.

Quarterbacks (3):

Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill, Taylor Heinicke

While Bridgewater and Hill were safely on the roster before the preseason, Heinicke definitely had to impress to earn a spot on this roster, especially given that many teams decide to keep just two quarterbacks. The 6-foot-1 rookie from Old Dominion showed some real ability this preseason, especially in the Vikings’ final game in Tennessee where he threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns. I imagine that the Vikings kept him because they see a potential solid backup for Bridgewater for years to come. From what I saw this preseason, that seems like a real possibility.

Also, worth noting: Bridgewater looked VERY good this preseason. Completing 29 of 35 passes is no easy task, but he made it look easy. It should be fun to watch him lead an offense full of weapons.

Running Backs (3):

Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata

No real surprises here. However, Dominique Williams made a real case for himself to possibly nap Asiata’s spot as the last tailback on the depth chart. Williams should field some interest from other teams, especially those that are needy at the position. In the end, keeping Asiata is the best choice because of his greater experience and pass blocking abilities. Additionally, IF Adrian Peterson were to get hurt or be unable to play for some reason (knocking on wood several times here), the McKinnon-Asiata combo is a formidable thunder-and-lightning tandem to have in the backfield.

As long as Peterson is on the field in purple, I don’t think this position is one that we’ll have to worry about.

Fullbacks (1):

Zach Line

I guess I’m not terribly surprised that Line made the roster. But, if it were up to me, Line would’ve been one of the first cuts from this team. This preseason, sure, he showed some ability to catch passes out of the backfield make some things happen that way. However, that’s hardly what he’ll be asked to do in the regular season. With Adrian Peterson at tailback and so many other receiving options for Bridgewater, Line will be primarily asked to block when he’s on the field, and he was quite unimpressive during the preseason as a blocker. Rhett Ellison and Matt Asiata are two guys that play other positions that could easily fill in at fullback if called upon to do so. Moreover, Norv Turner’s offense has historically used a fullback quite sparingly anyway. All in all, it seems like Line’s roster spot could have much more value if used on a player at a different position.

Wide Receivers (6)

Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs

Not long into training camp, it seemed pretty clear that the Vikings would keep all six of these guys. The most interesting aspect of this group has to be the amount of snaps we’ll see from Patterson this season, if any. If you haven’t heard by now, he was upset about playing in the final preseason game against the Titans. Thielen wasn’t asked to play in that game. To me, that shows that the Vikings have moved Thielen above Patterson on the depth chart. At this point, Patterson will really have to earn back some playing time in this offense, or he’ll turn into a guy like Devin Hester whose only use is on special teams.

Overall, this receiving corps looks pretty dangerous. As Arif Hasan has pointed out at Vikings Journal, this group is one of the fastest receiving corps in the league. With Bridgewater putting on a solid display in the preseason, Vikings fans should be excited about the passing game.

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Tight Ends (4)

Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison, Chase Ford, MyCole Pruitt

Again, not much for surprises here. There has been some speculation surrounding Chase Ford, and whether he would either be cut or traded, but I don’t believe in any of that, yet. If Pruitt performs well and starts to make a name for himself (which I think could very well happen), I could see Ford’s leash getting shorter. But for the time being, there’s nothing wrong with keeping Ford for depth.

Offensive Linemen (9)

Matt Kalil, Brandon Fusco, John Sullivan, Joe Berger, Mike Harris, T.J. Clemmings, Zac Kerin, Austin Shepherd, Jerimiah Sirles

One surprise here is that the Vikings decided to cut David Yankey, a fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft. Yankey came in with quite a bit of hype, as he was seen as a value pick at the time. This preseason was his first real chance to show what he had, and he just didn’t look the part at all. He displayed terrible footwork and just appeared much too slow.

Another interesting move the Vikings made was trading for Jerimiah Sirles from the Sand Diego Chargers for a sixth-round pick. Sirles is undoubtedly being brought in as Yankey’s “replacement”. This preseason, he’s shown some serious versatility as he’s lined up at three different positions for the Chargers and been serviceable at each. Sirles appears to be a good addition for depth purposes.

Defensive Linemen (9)

Everson Griffen, Brian Robison, Scott Crichton, Danielle Hunter, Justin Trattou, Sharrif Floyd, Linval Joseph, Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen

I hope you guys don’t mind if I take some time here to just rave about this group of players. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this is the most talented defensive line in the NFL.

At defensive end, Griffen is coming off a 12-sack season and appears seems ready to take another step into stardom. Robison, Crichton, and Trattou have all proven themselves solid against both the rush and the pass. Hunter, well, I’ve been high on Hunter for awhile now. He’ll make an impact for this Vikings defense this season, you can count on that.

As far as defensive tackles go, this group was absolutely dominant in the preseason. Floyd gets off the line of scrimmage quicker than I’ve ever seen. After a disappointing 2014 season, Joseph appears ready to climb back to his run-stuffing ways. Additionally, he’ll be pressed to play well for playing time with Johnson and Stephen right on his heels.

Linebackers (6)

Chad Greenway, Anthony Barr, Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges, Eric Kendricks, Edmond Robinson

The big surprise at the linebacker position is Edmond Robinson making the squad. He was pretty impressive during the preseason, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t think it would be enough to make the roster. With the releasing of Mike Mauti, who had been a solid special teamer the past couple of seasons, the door was opened for Robinson.

This is another talented unit on this team. I was especially impressed with Cole, Hodges, and Kendricks this preseason. All of them have great instincts and just have that nose for the ball.

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  • Cornerbacks (5)

    Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Captain Munnerlyn, Trae Waynes, Marcus Sherels, Jabari Price** (on suspended list eligible to return Week 3, not member of 53-man roster)

    Sherels just finds ways year after year to make this roster by the skin of his teeth. It’s clear now that the only reason he’s on this team is for special teams purposes (which he’s pretty darn good at), because he’s horrendous as a cover cornerback.

    I fully expect Rhodes to take that next step to becoming an elite cornerback this season. He’s got all the physical tools and ability to do so. Additionally, here’s to hoping Vikings fans are patient with Trae Waynes as he inevitably makes mistakes this season. Rookie cornerbacks are usually not very good, and Waynes likely won’t be an exception to that.

    Safeties (4)

    Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton, Antone Exum, Andrew Sendejo

    We all know how good Harrison Smith is. I shouldn’t need to say much about him.

    Blanton will be the starting safety opposite Smith to start the season, in all likelihood. However, Exum performed really well this preseason and will definitely be right on Blanton’s heels all season long for the starting job. Either way, I’m relatively comfortable with the safety position at this point.

    Special Teams (3)

    Blair Walsh, Jeff Locke, Kevin McDermott

    There are many fans that are pretty concerned about both Walsh and Locke heading into the season, and it’s really tough to argue their concern. Walsh hit on just 5 of his 11 attempts this preseason, while Locke struggled with both distance and accuracy on his punts. Hopefully, as the season rolls around, both of these things will improve.

    Final Thoughts

    — When Jabari Price returns Week 3, another cut will have to be made as I’m assuming that Price will be kept on the 53-man roster. If I had to guess right now, I’d say Zach Line, Marcus Sherels, Zac Kerin, and maybe even Taylor Heinicke are a few guys that should be worried about this.

    — There’s a ton of talent on this 2015 Minnesota Vikings roster. Whether that talent come together under Mike Zimmer this season and win a bunch of games has yet to be seen, but there’s no shortage of it and that’s for sure.

    — As always, leave any thoughts you may have in the comments section below.

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