With the final preseason game in the books… I thought it best that I analyze the remaining roster members and offer the readers of PJD a prediction on the final 53-man roster for the Vikes. This year has been trickier than most – not knowing what exactly Zimmer is looking for, but I took my best stab at it (based on my days at training camp and watching the last four games). AND BECAUSE I SLACKED ON SHIRTLESS VIKINGS THROUGHOUT MY COVERAGE THIS YEAR. I MAKE UP FOR IT NOW. ENJOY!
QB: Matt Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater, Christian Ponder
Explanation: This was the easiest position to predict. Mike Zimmer told the team last week that Cassel would be the starter heading into the season. The only real unknown is whether Mr. Ponder will be amongst the group of QBs by the start of the season. Is there a chance St. Louis trades for him and we end up facing him the first week of the season? No… probably not.
RB: All-Day, Asiata, McKinnon, Joe Banyard
Explanation: Unless we shockingly trade AP to his wanted destination (Dallas), I don’t see a way he isn’t the starter. It’s been known for some time that both Asiata and McKinnon will make the team as well. The surprise here is Banyard. Joe averaged more than 6 yards a carry in last night’s game and it seems too risky to put him out to the Wolves. He’ll get picked right up.
FB: Jerome Felton
Explanation: I’m fairly certain I saw Zach Line limping off the field near the end of last night’s game. My dad and I have discussed Norv not using much of a full back in his offensive systems. However, I’m going to stick with him keeping Felton around at least for this year.
WR: Greg Jennings, Cordarelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Adam Thielen, Rodney Smith
Explanation: I’ve debated back on forth on taking Jerome Simpson off this list. I do think the Vikings go into the season carrying six wide outs. If Jerome is suspended, they are going to need the extra weight. If Jerome returns to the team later on, I can see either Smith being cut (depending on his production).
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison, Chase Ford
Explanation: Allen Reisner looked good in pre-season. I almost debated switching him and Chase Ford. But, Chase came on strong last year and has been bugged down with an injury throughout the preseason. I don’t think they’ll cut him based on that alone. So, unfortunately Reisner is the odd man out (again).
LT: Matt Kalil, Tiny Richardson
LG: Charlie Johnson, David Yankey
C: John Sullivan, Joe Berger
RG: Brandon Fusco
RT: Phil Loadholt
Explanation O-Line: I still think the team will go shopping for a swing tackle. The Wentworth experiment didn’t work out well. The line remains the same from last year. I believe they’ll need an upgrade from Charlie Johnson by next year or maybe now.
DT: Sharrif Floyd, Tom Johnson
NT: Linval Joseph, Fred Evans, Shamar Stephen
LDE: Brian Robison, Corey Wootton
RDE: Everson Griffen, Scott Crichton
Explanation D-Line: Fred Evans could be among those cut, but I can also see the Vikings adding Shamar Stephen to the practice squad. I can’t make up my mind and I know Zimmer loves to rotate his linemen, so we’ll stick with all of them being kept.
WLB: Chad Greenway, Gerald Hodges
SLB: Anthony Barr, Brandon Watts
MLB: Jasper Brinkley, Audie Cole
Explanation Linebackers: This was impossible. Before the start of the season, I think the back-ups in this group change drastically. They may even choose to keep seven linebackers. I had Brandon Watts beating out Larry Dean. Dean was great on special teams, but Watts has also been solid in the preseason and he’s younger with more potential.
CB: Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Robinson, Marcus Sherels, Jabari Price
Explanation Cornerbacks: The first four make the most sense to me. With better competition, I don’t think Robinson makes the cut. This group appears lacking to me. Maybe Zim picks up another veteran cornerback after cuts? I foresee Price more on the practice squad than the team. I’d bet on a veteran corner being brought in to start the year.
SS: Kurt Coleman, Robert Blanton, Chris Crocker
FS: Harrison Smith, Sendejo
Explanation Safeties: Now that I look at this group, it’s pretty weak as well. I have been majorly impressed with Coleman. I guess you could say I have a safety crush on him. I know most people are projecting Blanton to start alongside Harrison… I just haven’t been all that impressed. I guess it could easily be Crocker too.
K: Blair Walsh
P: Jeff Locke
LS: Cullen Loeffler
So there it is! If this were my team to control – this is the roster I would expect to see on Sundays. Sadly, it’s not and it will probably look drastically different than this. Cuts should start coming in today and tomorrow. Thanks again for following me this summer as I continue my pursuit and passion of sports writing. I might be back around with a post here and there throughout the year. Otherwise, follow me on Twitter @Cbrusoewriter