Breaking Down First Vikings Depth Chart

Vikings first depth chart

With preseason just a few days away, Minnesota has released the first Vikings depth chart of the season. With many battles going as expected, there are some surprises to take note of. Check out an in-depth breakdown below of each position group’s battles as Minnesota heads into their first preseason game.




Starter: Kirk Cousins
Backups: Nick Mullens; Jaren Hall

No major surprises here as Kirk is back for his sixth year in Purple and Gold. One point to note though is 5th Round rookie Jaren Hall has not overtaken Nick Mullens on the depth chart. As reports from camp are hot and cold, this may be the quarterback depth chart come opening day. That said, with the new rule to have a third quarterback that does not count towards your gameday, expect to see all three of these guys make the 53-man roster but who isn’t suiting up may shift.


Running Backs

Starter: Alexander Mattison
Backups; Kene Nwangwu; Ty Chandler; DeWayne McBride; Abram Smith

With much speculation this offseason about who will come out on top in a running back competition, the incumbent and projected starter Alexander Mattison is indeed the lead back, as of now. The most surprising thing currently is Kene Nwangwu being projected as the main backup. At Iowa State, Nwangwu was sandwiched between the David Montgomery era and the Breece Hall era and he never had star studded stats, however the athletic phenom beats out Chandler and McBride for the #2 spot. It will be interesting to see how all of these backs are used come Week 1.



Starter: CJ Ham

With Zach Ojile being cut to make room for Abram Smith a few days ago, Ham is currently solidified as the starter, as he should be. Nothing more to write here, but Ham is expected to make the 53-man roster.


Wide Receivers

Starters: Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn
Backups: Jalen Nailor and Jordan Addison; Jalen Reagor and Brandon Powell; Blake Proehl and Triston Jackson; Lucky Jackson and Thayer Thomas; N’Keal Harry, Garett Maag, and Jacob Copeland

A bit of a surprise for some, but the veteran KJ Osborn has fended off the young group of receivers aiming for his job as the #2 wide receiver… at least for this depth chart drop. Don’t be discouraged, Osborn is a talented player who will be a great compliment to J-Jettas. That said, Nailor and Addison are encroaching on starting time, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see a solid rotation amongst these four in-season. Reagor at #5 is a bit of a head scratcher as there hasn’t been a ton of news about him out of camp, but, nonetheless. Free agent signing Brandon Powell is also making a bid for his name to dawn the opening day roster and it’ll be interesting to see where N’Keal Harry lands with some playing time in camp.


Tight Ends

Starter: TJ Hockenson
Backups: Josh Oliver; Johnny Mundt; Nick Muse; Ben Sims; Colin Thompson

Even though he’s been injured much of camp, there is no dispute that Hockenson leads this group of tight ends (and hopefully with a new contract we get him back on the field soon). Oliver is holding down the #2 spot and former Ram Johnny Mundt rounds out the top three. No major surprises on this one.


Offensive Tackles

Starters: Christian Darrisaw (LT) and Brian O’Neill (RT)
Backups: Vederian Lowe (LT) and Olisaemeka Udoh (RT); Jarrid Williams (LT) and Christan DiLauro (RT); Jacky Chen (LT)

Starters are as expected but the biggest note to take here is Blake Brandel is not listed as a tackle. Brandel, who started three games at left tackle last season, is replaced by second-year lineman Vederian Lowe (alongside Oli Udoh at right tackle who will forever be on this team apparently). A former 6th round pick. Lowe’s jump up the depth chart is encouraging but his biggest issue coming in was cleaning up some technique, though he had the tools to be a successful lineman in the league. Also important, Jacky Chen is listed behind two free agent signings from last week, not a great sign for his long-term future with the Vikings.


Interior Offensive Linemen

Starters: Ezra Cleveland (LG), Garrett Bradbury (C), and Ed Ingram (RG)
Backups: Josh Sokol (LG), Austin Schlottmann (C), and Blake Brandel (RG); Jack Snyder (LG), Alan Ali (C), and Chris Reed (NFI)

Another group as expected, the backups are all a bit of a surprise for the casual fan. Schlottmann looks to stay and has great versatility to play in a variety of positions, but Brandel and Sokol being the backup guards are a bit surprising. Sokol is a great player and someone, I personally believe, who will make the opening day squad. After going undrafted in 2022, Sokol signed with the Vikings as an UDFA and may carve out a role for himself yet. That said, Brandel is 6’7″ and his guard experience is a bit limited, but this may just be a swing tackle landing spot for him. Chris Reed is still inactive, thus his finish as the final lineman on the first Vikings depth chart.



Outside Linebackers

Starters: Danielle Hunter and Marcus Davenport
Backups: Pat Jones II and D.J. Wonnum; Luiji Vilain and Benton Whitley; Andre Carter II and Curtis Weaver

About as expected with Hunter and Davenport coming off the edge, but seeing Pat Jones II up as the primary backup is a great sign for the third-year edge rusher. Throw him with the ever-reliable Wonnum and you’ve got a solid (not spectacular) backup tandem to rotate into. Villain is still within striking distance of getting within the mix after making the roster last year. Additionally, Carter II is much farther down but still has time to build his way up before the start of the season. As one of the biggest priority undrafted prospects Minnesota pursued, he is a fan favorite, but still a rookie so this landing spot shouldn’t be a huge shock. All in all, nothing majorly shocking on this portion of the first Vikings depth chart.


Defensive Ends

Starters: Dean Lowry and Harrison Phillips
Backups: Jonathan Bullard and Ross Blacklock, Jaquelin Roy and Esezi Otomewo; Sheldon Day and Junior Aho

The former Packer has etched his name into a starting role in the Twin Cities as of now and will pair with Harrison Phillips as the two starting defensive ends. Former draft bust Ross Blacklock has also positioned himself in a nice position to make the final roster as he currently sits at DT #4, just behind Bullard. That said, the rookie out of LSU who has seen time with the first team is currently in the third rotation and is listed at end, not tackle. It will be interesting to see if this is a sign of what’s to come or a rookie welcome for the former Tiger. Free agent veteran Sheldon Day is farther down than anticipated and is in jeopardy of getting cut come trim downs. 


Nose Tackles

Starter: Khyiris Tonga
Backups: TJ Smith; Calvin Avery
After Chicago released him, Tonga latched on with Minnesota and has made a name for himself in just about a year. Now projected as a main starter on this line, the smaller 6’4” nose tackle has impressed enough to earn the #1 spot at nose tackle on the first Vikings depth chart. That said, there is still much to be desired from this position.


Inside Linebacker

Starters: Brian Asamoah II (MLB) and Jordan Hicks (WLB)
Backups: Troy Dye (MLB) and Troy Reeder (WLB); William Kwenkeu (MLB) and Ivan Pace Jr (WLB); Abraham Beauplan (MLB) and Wilson Huber (WLB)

The ascension of Brian Asamoah II brings joy to the hearts of many and as a player, he is looking towards a major step this upcoming year. However, Asamoah II locking up the #1 spot is not the most surprising part of these rankings, it’s Cincinnati’s Ivan Pace Jr sitting with the third string backers. As someone who has seen significant time with the 1s this off-season, consider this smokescreen until it’s not. Though he may not see major playing time in the upcoming year (still undrafted), he is talented enough to be higher than this. Also, shoutout to Troy Reeder for coming in and outplaying expectations.



Starters: Byron Murphy Jr and Akayleb Evans
Backups: Andrew Booth Jr and Joejuan Williams; Mehki Blackmon and Kalon Barnes; Jaylin Williams and Tay Gowan; NaJee Thompson and CJ Colden Jr

The first look at the much-anticipated cornerback room sees big name free agent Byron Murphy Jr and apple of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s eye Akayleb Evans lock up the starting spots, however second rounder Andrew Booth Jr comes in at third and pairs with JoeJuan Williams as a nice set of twos. Many expected Blackmon to be higher on the cornerback depth chart but the Vikings showed their hand on this depth chart that rookies aren’t just going to be given the starting spot, even if they may earn it and have it later. Kalon Barnes slotting in at CB #6 is encouraging for his development as a player and part of this team. Tay Gowan, however, is lower than some believed he would be.



Starters: Harrison Smith and Cam Bynum
Backups: Lewis Cine and Josh Mettellus; Jay Ward and Theo Jackson
Not much change here from last year, but Cine coming in as the third option at safety is about as expected. With Bynum playing well enough to hold onto his job, it will most likely be a slow process of bringing the former Georgia Bulldog back from injury. That said, seeing Josh Mettellus firmly locked in with the second-string defense is an ideal situation for him. Truly though, expect to see a lot of these guys in rotation this season.



Special Teams


Starter: Greg Joseph
Backup: Jack Podlesny


Starter: Ryan Wright

Long Snapper

Starter: Andrew Depaola

Kickoff Returner

Starter: Kene Nwangwu
Backups: Ty Chandler; Brandon Powell

Punt Returners

Starter: Jalen Reagor
Backups: Brandon Powell; Thayer Thomas

As a whole, special teams aren’t a massive surprise. Joseph beats out the rookie Podlesny in their kicking competition this time and there’s no competition for punter or long snapper. However, King Kene keeps a firm grasp as the lead kick returner and Chandler and Powell also show their versatility as backups on the first Vikings depth chart. Reagor being the team’s top punt returner is the same from last year, but there are others pushing for that spot so if he doesn’t provide enough value as a receiver too, this may not stay come the next depth chart drop.

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