Yesterday, I gave my projections for who which offensive players would make the Vikings’ 53-man roster. Today, the defense gets the same treatment.
Check out last month’s post-draft predictions to see what has changed in the time since.
Prediction: DE1. Griffen DE2. Hunter DE3. Robison DE4. Weatherly DE5. Aruna
The guy who lands the final end spot on the 53-man roster is certainly not a lock to be active every week of the season. There is a part of me that believes Bower, Odenigbo and Aruna will each dress at some point on Sundays (assuming whoever does not make the roster clears waivers and lands on the practice squad). Aruna has flashed the size and speed that earned him a sixth round selection, though that does not really mean much in spring, given that there are no pads. Until training camp gets going, it will be tough to gauge how Aruna stacks up and how Bower and Odengbo have developed in year two. For now, I am going with Aruna since he is the shiny new toy, as opposed to the seldom used ones fans have already seen a bit.
Mata’afa would have been interesting as a potential sleeper to grab the last spot. However, his unfortunate ACL injury will bump him from contention.
Prediction: DT1. Joseph DT2. Richardson DT3. Johnson DT4. Holmes
I am certainly intrigued by Parry, who was a solid player for the Colts before a 2017 arrest and an ankle injury derailed his career a bit. If Parry can return to his 2015 form where he was a productive starting nose tackle, then he will have a spot on the roster. Johnson and Holmes are unproven at the position, yet will be asked to take a significant role this year. A proven veteran like Parry could ease some of that pressure.
That said, Parry has a lot of questions with him. His health is one concern, his declining play another. As such, it is tough to pen him into a spot on the roster. Given that Johnson and Holmes are virtual locks, Parry would likely be taking the spot of one of the young defensive ends. At this time, that does not seem terribly likely.
Prediction: MLB. Kendricks SLB. Barr WLB. Gedeon LB4. Brothers LB5. Wilson LB6. Williams
Mata’afa’s short-lived time as a linebacker brought hype, but obviously never materialized. The competition for the three reserve linebackers seems pretty wide open at the moment. Wilson was a solid special teams player, so he may actually have the best odds, despite being listed as LB5 here. Brothers would be the lock if it were not for his upcoming suspension for violating the league’s PED policy. Still, when active, he has been a good special teams contributor himself and a capable backup.
Downs was the Vikings last draft pick this year, so he is certainly in play for the last slot. However, I am going with Williams for now. He has some game experience, unlike virtually everyone else available for the sixth spot, and he spent time on the Vikings’ practice squad last season.
Prediction: CB1. Rhodes CB2. Waynes CB3. Alexander CB4. Hughes CB5. Newman CB6. Hill PR/KR. Sherels
Alexander has been getting most of the first team reps with Hughes taking second team. Newman played a little safety this spring, so we will see how that shakes the rest of the roster. That said, it appears his time as a starter is at an end. The Vikings have fully transitioned to the Alexander/Hughes era at nickel.
Hill has received rave reviews from coaches for his size and athleticism. There are reports that the Vikings see him as a future starter in the league. Even though he was undrafted, I would be shocked if the team lets him slip away.
Prediction: SS. Sendejo FS. Smith S3. Harris S4. Kearse
Again, keeping only two quarterbacks will most likely open a spot for an 11th defensive back. In the past month, I have gotten some sense that the Vikings may be transitioning from Sherels as the return man and look to fill his spot with someone more versatile. However, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said just yesterday he believes the team needs both him and Hughes, especially with new kickoff rules. As such, Sherels maintains his spot on the roster for now and Matthews remains a prime candidate for practice squad if no one else signs him.
Harris keeps his job as third safety, though Newman getting reps at safety in minicamp could alter that. Kearse’s spot as a special teams ace appears secure for now, as well.
On Roster: Kevin McDermott
On Roster: Ryan Quigley
Two of the specialists have no competition for their spots as of now.
After every practice from here until week one, fans and media will inquire about the kickers. So far, both Carlson and Forbath have had their good days and their bad. But I stand by the assertion that it will take a colossal collapse from Carlson for him to lose this competition. All things being close to equal, it should be his job.
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