A lot has changed since our last roster projections. This preseason has done a number on the Vikings’ depth, particularly at offensive line. Some players have been waived, some lost to injury and others have simply showed something on the field. There are still two weeks for the Vikings’ roster to take shape, but we are starting to get a better idea of what the final product will be.
Here are our second-to-last projections for the Vikings’ 53-man roster.
Prediction: QB1. Cousins QB2. Siemian QB3. Sloter
It seems more likely now than it did in spring that the Vikings are going to keep three quarterbacks. Siemian resembled a capable backup in two preseason games. Overall, he has been OK, but if Minnesota needs him more than a game or two, they would be headed for disaster. Sloter has looked at least as good as Siemian on the field. Plus, given that the Vikings took steps to avoid Sloter getting poached off their practice squad last year, they seem smitten with his potential. I would imagine all three make the roster and Siemian and Sloter duke it out over the season for the permanent backup role.
Prediction: RB1. Cook RB2. Murray RB3. Boone FB. Ham
The third running back is anyone’s guess at this point. Thomas looked like a million bucks in the first preseason game, while Boone took center stage in the second. Boone runs like the more traditional NFL back, with power, vision and quick cutting ability. Thomas, on the other hand, resembles what teams would want in a third-down back: tremendous receiving ability and the danger of breaking a long play at any moment. Boone gets the edge for now, as his showcase was most recent and seems most likely to translate to the regular season. But the two undrafted rookies are neck-and-neck.
Prediction: WR1A. Thielen WR1B. Diggs WR3. Treadwell WR4. Coley WR5. Wright WR6. Zylstra
Because of injuries to Coley and Zylstra, the receiving battle has been tough to gauge thus far. Assuming everyone is healthy, things seem to be leaning towards Coley and Wright as fourth and fifth receivers. Behind them, a myriad of options battle for the sixth slot. Jones would probably be the leader in the pack, but his suspension could hurt his chances. Zylstra would also be high on the list if not for an injury sidelining him for both preseason games. He, Beebe and Wieneke are intriguing as unknowns with clear ability as pass catchers. But King has caught passes in the NFL and seems to provide more special teams viability. As a former CFL star, Zylstra is a wild card and could show in the next couple games. If he does, his slight lead heading into camp should hold.
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Prediction: TE1. Rudolph TE2. David Morgan TE3. Tyler Conklin
Conklin has not been excellent thus far in preseason, but Bell’s injury keeps the rookie a step ahead in the battle for third tight end. It helps that Conklin has not looked over-matched in run blocking. That edge was likely going to be the one thing Bell held over Conklin, but there does not seem to be a significant gap between abilities in that area.
Prediction: LT. Reiff RT. Hill OT3. Collins OT4. O’Neill
Hill still holds the right tackle spot for the time being, though his injury may open the door a crack for O’Neill or Collins to slide in. Collins’ spot on the roster seems to be fairly secure as a swing tackle and/or guard. He started last Saturday in place of Hill before switching to left tackle and guard for second team reps. The rookie O’Neill continues to improve and has been up to the task in each preseason game. It is only a matter of time before he finds himself in the starting lineup.
Prediction: LG. Compton RG. Remmers G3. Isidora
Nick Easton‘s injury opens up both a starting spot and a roster spot. Compton has taken all starting reps at left guard so he slides in for now, though Isidora has looked significantly better from my point of view. The possibility also exists that Remmers kicks out to tackle again and Isidora handles starting right guard. As for the final line spot, Gossett is in play, seeing as he was a sixth-round pick and has played well with the third team. However, the Vikings have a strong need for a backup center with Elflein’s injury history and Easton gone for the year. That need may send Gossett to the practice squad.
Prediction: C. Elflein C2. Edison
As stated above, the Vikings need someone who can step in at center if Elflein goes down again. Last year, they had Easton and Joe Berger. This year, they have no one, unless Edison makes the roster. If Gossett can slide over to center to challenge Edison, that would be ideal. But at the moment, the Vikings are too thin to take chances.
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