An early look at the Vikings’ top 2019 training camp battles

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) Brandon Zylstra
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) Brandon Zylstra /
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(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Kyle Sloter
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Kyle Sloter /

Backup Quarterback

The Vikings are obviously set with their starting quarterback. Kirk Cousins is in his second season with the team and he will have a much better chance to succeed with an improved offensive line and an improved arsenal of weapons in 2019.

The battle in training camp will be for the backup job behind Cousins as well the third-string quarterback spot if the Vikings elect to keep three on their roster for next season.

One has to think Kyle Sloter has the edge to become the team’s primary backup for 2019. Sloter had plenty of flashes in the preseason a year ago. He just has that “it” factor and he seems to be a guy that his teammates rally around.

Obviously, he was going up against second, third, and possibly even fourth-stringers during Minnesota’s preseason games. But Sloter does ooze confidence and he willed his way to helping the Vikings earn a couple of meaningless preseason victories last year.

Another aspect that favors Sloter in this battle is that new offensive advisor Gary Kubiak is familiar with him from their brief time together in Denver with the Broncos. That being said, Sloter has never played a meaningful snap in the NFL and he is still very much an unknown.

The Vikings brought in former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Sean Mannion in free agency this offseason to battle with Sloter for the backup job. Mannion’s career stats are extremely underwhelming.

He’s played in 10 career games and thrown for only 258 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. That isn’t great but at least he has some gameday experience.

The last horse in this race is undrafted rookie Jake Browning from Washington. This kid does have some talent. Browning was ultra-productive in college, throwing for over 12,000 yards with 94 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.

He’s got good size and he can make throws on the run. If Browning has a good camp, he could earn some valuable playing time in the preseason.

At this point, the safest bet is to say Sloter will be the backup behind Cousins for 2019 with Mannion ending as the third quarterback on the depth chart. But if Browning shows enough in the preseason, the Vikings could go with the upside and release the uninspiring veteran.