With the fourth preseason game in the rearview mirror and roster cuts on the horizon, it’s time to unveil a final 53-man roster prediction.
There will be a handful of changes from my July 25 version, which was released just before training camp. I’ll also take a stab at a 10-man practice squad.
QB (3): Kirk Cousins, Trevor Siemian, Kyle Sloter
Sloter put together a near-perfect preseason, likely ensuring his spot on the roster. Siemian was outplayed by Sloter but remains a cheap, experienced backup option.
RB/FB (4): Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, Mike Boone, C.J. Ham (FB)
Mike Boone has been so good this preseason that Murray may need to be looking over his shoulder. Wouldn’t be shocked if Boone is the Vikings’ second-string running back a year from now.
WR (5): Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Brandon Zylstra, Kendall Wright
The depth spots at wide receiver were open when training camp began and remain open to this day. Zylstra, Stacy Coley and Chad Beebe all had terrific camps, but all dealt with injuries. Unfortunately for Coley and Beebe, their injuries came late in the process, which may preclude them from taking up a roster spot. Frankly, we aren’t sure about their severity.
Wright was somewhat unimpressive, but he remained healthy, brings experience to the table and earned praise from John DeFilippo. Maybe the Vikings put Coley on the Physically Unable to Perform list and try to sneak Beebe onto the practice squad? It’s hard to project without knowing their recovery timetables. Minnesota may need to get creative. This is a brutal decision.
TE (3): Kyle Rudolph, David Morgan II, Tyler Conklin
The Vikings haven’t gotten a ton from rookie Tyler Conklin, but he possesses more upside than Blake Bell or Tyler Hoppes.
OT (4): Riley Reiff, Rashod Hill, Brian O’Neill, Aviante Collins
Minnesota is shallow at tackle, but Collins can play any position but center, and Mike Remmers can always move back to tackle in a pinch. O’Neill may push for the starting right tackle gig after having a superb rookie camp.
OG/C (5): Mike Remmers, Danny Isidora, Brett Jones, Cornelius Edison, Tom Compton (Pat Elflein PUP)
The Pat Elflein Saga may stretch into the regular season with the Vikings having given no indication he’ll be back for Week 1 or shortly after. If he gets PUP’d, that actually makes the decision quite easy with only draft pick Colby Gossett being a regrettable cut. The Appalachian State product will probably get through to the practice squad.
DE (6): Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Brian Robison, Tashawn Bower, Stephen Weatherly, Ifeadi Odenigbo
When you have a plethora of young pass rushers this good, why not keep them all? Yes, it might seem excessive, but the numbers work out. Weatherly, Bower and Odenigbo may be part of a deep rotation this year.
DT (4): Linval Joseph, Sheldon Richardson, Jaleel Johnson, Jalyn Holmes
The Vikings may have to cut ties with nose tackle David Parry and trust Johnson as Joseph’s backup. That should be a fairly easy decision considering how well Johnson played against the run this preseason. Holmes has work to do to develop, but with the flexibility of Robison and Odenigbo to move inside, the Vikings should be covered.
LB (5): Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Ben Gedeon, Eric Wilson, Reshard Cliett
Would never have expected to include Cliett on this list when the preseason began, but here he is. The Vikings rookie linebackers were fairly non-descript, and Cliett had a terrific final preseason game to separate himself. Wilson has had an even better preseason, which shores up some concern about the team’s linebacker depth.
CB (7): Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Terence Newman, Mike Hughes, Marcus Sherels, Holton Hill
It may be tough to sneak Hill onto the practice squad after his performance in Nashville, but the Vikings should have room to keep him. With injuries to Alexander and Sherels at the moment, Minnesota could also use the extra body.
The Vikings will have excess players to play in the nickel, but it might be a great situation to ease in the rookie Hughes. Sherels can continue as punt returner/gunner for another year. Hill can find a home on special teams.
S (4): Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, George Iloka, Anthony Harris
Despite the temptation to keep five safeties, it seems hard to believe the Vikings would reserve a spot for Jayron Kearse instead of Holton Hill or another defensive lineman. Plus, the Vikings usually keep just four safeties anyway, and Newman could switch positions in an emergency.
SPEC (3): Daniel Carlson, Ryan Quigley, Kevin McDermott
Not many choices here, huh? Quigley could be on the hot seat after a rocky preseason, but until a move gets made he’s the punter.
SPECIAL TEAMS: 3
Practice Squad (10): RB Roc Thomas, TE Tyler Hoppes, WR Chad Beebe, WR Jake Wieneke, OG Colby Gossett, DT Curtis Cothran, LB Garret Dooley, CB Horace Richardson, CB Craig James, S Tray Matthews
Obviously, there’s a chance any one of these players gets poached on waivers. The flashiest of them, Beebe, didn’t play against the Titans, which might help get him through, and Thomas — who scored two touchdowns in Preseason Week 1 — got hurt early in the game. While injuries are bad for the players, they may help the Vikings keep them around in this case.