So, we are half way through the preseason and it’s about time a 53-man roster prediction be written. We’ve seen the ups (mostly in the Broncos game) and the downs (mostly in the Jaguars game), but we were able to learn a lot from both.
After those first two matchups, and a little extra shake-up thrown in today, the roster is starting to take shape. I’ve developed a “premature” prediction for how the roster might look, come September 1st at 3:00pm CST.
Here is the offense. Defense will drop tomorrow.
QB: (3): Kirk Cousins, Trevor Siemian, Kyle Sloter
This is a position that looks drastically different than it did last year. The acquisition of Kirk Cousins is the big QB signing we all hope will bring this team over the edge. However, we as Vikings fans know that the backups at this position can be just as important. Rick Spielman covets his draft picks, so the fact that he gave up a 5th round pick for Siemian means he is valued. That, combined with his previous starting experience, makes him incredibly valuable.
Kyle Sloter, however, could be on the chopping block. He has done well in preseason games so far, but it may just be a numbers game if they only decide to keep 2 QBs. Sloter won’t make it to the practice squad though, if waived. He’ll be gobbled up quickly by another team.
RB: (4): Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, CJ Ham, Mike Boone
The first two are no-doubters. Some may want you to believe that the fumbles by Murray vs the Jaguars mean he could be trade bait… that’s not happening. Cook and Murray are a great compliment to each other and they seem to be getting along great, off the field. This should translate well on the field, as well. This system works best with a fullback and CJ Ham fits the bill perfectly. His blocking has improved greatly and his pass catching ability will only add to his value.
Now, the true question (the one everyone is wondering about): Mike Boone vs Roc Thomas
Roc Thomas is the Jerrick McKinnon replacement, and fits that mold perfectly. Zimmer and DeFilippo may very well want that, and he might make sense for this season. However, this team looks to the future better than any team in the league. Murray’s contract is up after this season and with our cap situation getting tight, we have to keep the best overall runner.
That runner is Mike Boone.
Roc Thomas also has a better chance of being snuck onto the practice squad, as his running style (and pass catching abilities) will be looked at as more of a complimentary piece, rather than a lead back. Mike Boone has lead-back ability, even if that ability isn’t in sight now.
WR: (5): Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Stacey Coley, Brandon Zylstra, *Cayleb Jones
Lets not fight about the order that I put our first two WRs in. Instead, lets just sit back and enjoy the fact that we probably have the best WR 1-2 punch in the entire NFL. Treadwell’s spot is also without question, here. His improvement in camp this year is clear, and this will finally be shown on the field, now that our QB position looks beyond the first read or two during his progressions.
The last two spots (or three, as I am only keeping 5 due to the depth at other positions)r are up for grabs. Stacey Coley has really impressed in camp and made some great catches in the preseason games, but has struggled with injuries lately. Still, Coley being left off of the 53 would be somewhat shocking.
Now, for the 5th and (my) final spot… Cayleb Jones has the best traits of any contender but he does have that 4 game suspension looming over his head. This could leave him high and dry and looking for another team, but I see Slick Rick keeping him for the first quarter of the season, since he won’t count against the 53 during his suspension. This would allow another player to fight those weeks for the spot. Brandon Zylstra has gotten the most training camp buzz. He seemed a lock for this spot before missing several practices and two preseason games with a nagging hamstring injury. Now the battle rages, as Chad Beebe is really making a name for himself in the preseason matches.
It comes down to raw talent, plus a little of who would be more likely to slip onto the practice squad. With his experience in the CFL, Brandon Zylstra has the talent and I don’t think Beebe’s done quite enough to be stolen through the waiver process, on his way to the practice squad, quite yet.
TE: (3): Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan, Tyler Conklin
Kyle Rudolph is one of the most underrated TEs in the NFL. At 6’6″ he will be the perfect target for Cousins (who has a record of liking his tight ends), especially in a TE friendly offense like DeFilippo’s. David Morgan has gotten better every year. Touted as just a blocking TE coming out of college, Morgan has turned into a wonderful route runner.
Could this be the year? The year we finally keep that late round TE we drafted. It hasn’t worked out with Hodges or Pruitt but Conklin seems to have shown just enough to beat out Blake Bell for the final TE spot. Blake Bell could still make a push, especially with his special teams ability, but Conklin seems to be DeFilippo’s guy.
OL: (9): Riley Reiff, Rashod Hill, Aviante Collins, Brian O’Neill, Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers, Danny Isidora, Tom Compton, Cornelius Edison
Ah, the offensive line. What everyone and their mother is worried about, when it comes to the Vikings.
Nick Easton’s injury hurt, but it will not be the downfall of this team. Tom Compton, Danny Isidora and even Aviante Collins will be serviceable in his place. Getting back Pat Elflein, Mike Remmers and Rashod Hill will greatly help the outlook on this position group.
This could also be a position where we see a new face. after other teams make cuts. We could see 10 bodies kept on the roster, just due to the injury issues that are already plaguing us. 9 seems to be the right number though.
This is where the most intrigue will be on September 1st. Josh Andrews is a name to keep in mind as well. DeFilippo brought him in from the Eagles practice squad and he has shown promise, but not enough to merit a roster spot on this team, as I see it.
Ian Parrague @SuperSkolFan
Minnesota Sports Fan