The preseason finally comes to an end on Thursday when the Vikings face the Titans in Nashville. The Vikings must finalize their 53-man roster before the NFL’s deadline on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT.
So will make the team? Here’s our 53-man roster projection.
Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill
Cut: Taylor Heinicke
Heinicke fared better than Mike Kafka as a third string quarterback, but the undrafted rookie free agent appears to be a practice squad player for now. That’s not a bad thing for him. Heinicke will serve as the third string quarterback on the practice squad with a shot at serving a backup role for Bridgewater down the road. It’d be better served for the Vikings to carry two quarterbacks and use that extra roster spot at another position,
Running Backs (3)
Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata
Cut: Dominique Williams, DuJuan Harris
Peterson will get the majority of the carries. That goes without saying, but the Vikings have two solid backup options in McKinnon and Asiata. Williams appears to be a practice squad candidate.
Cut: Blake Renaud
The Vikings will have a fullback on the roster. They’ve groomed Line over the last two seasons to replace Jerome Felton at the position, and he’ll finally get his opportunity to serve as Peterson’s lead blocker.
Wide Receivers (6)
Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen
Cut: Isaac Fruechte, Donte Foster, Ryan Whalen
At first, I personally didn’t think the Vikings would have six receivers on the roster. That’s not the case anymore. Despite an offense that used four receivers on seven plays last season and just once through four preseason games this year, they’ll keep six players at this position group. Patterson, Diggs and Thielen will be useful on special teams.
Tight End (3)
Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt, Rhett Ellison
Cut: Chase Ford
Ford has had a solid preseason as a pass-catching tight end, but he still lacks consistency as a blocker. Ellison gets the edge over Ford because of his blocking ability. That’s what keeps you in the league as a tight end and makes up for Ellison’s shortcomings as a pass catcher.
Offensive Linemen (9)
Matt Kalil, Brandon Fusco, John Sullivan, Mike Harris, T.J. Clemmings, David Yankey, Joe Berger, Austin Shepherd, Zac Kerin
Cut: Tyrus Thompson, Tom Farniok, Isame Faciane, Bobby Vardaro, Babatunde Aiyegbusi
Carter Bykowski and Phil Loadholt should be on this list, but they’re both on injured reserve due to season ending injuries. It’s a thin position group with just one reliable backup in Joe Berger. There’s a lot of young, versatile players serving backup roles in Yankey, Shepherd and Kerin, who should receive the final roster spot over Thompson on the offensive line. Thompson has lacked consistency and has been pushed around in practice and the preseason. Kerin has been a more reliable option over Thompson after spending last season on the practice squad.
Defensive Linemen (9)
Brian Robison, Sharrif Floyd, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Scott Crichton, Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen, Justin Trattou, Danielle Hunter
Cut: Leon Mackey, B.J. Dubose, Chigbo Anunoby, Greg Hickman
The Vikings will find a way to have five defensive ends on the roster. It’s hard to deny how much Trattou has improved since the Vikings signed him to the practice squad in the middle of the 2013 season. He’s been the most reliable backup defensive end over Crichton and Hunter. All three backup defensive ends will be useful on special teams, and they’ll receive opportunities to spell Griffen and Robison on defense.
Anthony Barr, Chad Greenway, Gerald Hodges, Eric Kendricks, Audie Cole, Brandon Watts, Edmond Robinson
Cut: Brian Peters, Michael Mauti
It’s a deep group that will have a lot of moving parts outside of Barr. Watts and Robinson will make the team due to their range and coverage abilities. Watts had a hard time staying healthy last year, but he’s remained on the field throughout camp and the preseason. Robinson has received extended looks with the second unit over the last two preseason games. The seventh rounder has the makeup Zimmer likes in a linebacker. Peters should make the practice squad if he goes unclaimed.
Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Trae Waynes, Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Thomas, Marcus Sherels
Suspended: Jabari Price
PUP list: Josh Robinson
Price will be suspended for the first two games stemming from a December arrest, paving the way for both Thomas and Sherels to make the team. Price will be on the active roster for Week 3, but the corresponding move is unknown at this point. It’s tough to speculate on what the Vikings will do once Price is activated considering the different variables that could pop up in that time frame, particularly injuries.
Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo, Antone Exum
Cut: Shaun Prater, Anthony Harris
This unit will bring back the same four players it had last year. Exum has improved over the summer and had a shot to threaten Blanton’s starting spot before injuring his hamstring. Both Exum and Sendejo have the capabilities to play both safety positions, which will be very beneficial for Zimmer if Smith or Blanton get hurt during the season.
Special Teams (3)
Blair Walsh, Jeff Locke, Kevin McDermott
The Vikings already made their decision at long snapper after cutting Cullen Loeffler during the preseason. The Vikings didn’t bring in any competition for Walsh and Locke during training camp.