Just 53 days out from Vikings football and there is buzz in the air for the upcoming season. With a new campaign comes new hopes and aspirations, but for any of those two come true, a roster must be set. So who may be a Viking in 2023? Griffin Cassell and I each took a look at the Vikings roster and trimmed it down to 53. Who will stay and who will get cut? Take a look below at BOTH 53 man roster predictions.
Ben 53 Man Roster Prediction
QB Kirk Cousins, QB Jaren Hall
Breakdown: The only sure fire Lock for this position is Kirk Cousins, but in this scenario, the front office only opts to keep two quarterbacks on the roster. Cousins has shown great durability, and it is possible that Mullens could be a surprise cut candidate or traded for draft capitol (NFL Rule Changes might favor three but still two right now). In either case, I do expect Jaren Hall to make this roster, whether it is the third or second-string quarterback.
RB Alexander Mattison, RB Dwayne McBride, RB Ty Chandler, FB CJ Hamm
Breakdown: Maybe the most confusing position to try and predict post-Dalvin Cook era, but Minnesota may just elect to keep three running backs, and a fullback. So who is it? Mattison and Chandler feel like locks, but the last spot comes down to McBride and Nwangwu. For purposes of overall roster. construction, Nwangwu was shipped off for extra space and draft capital. Don’t underestimate the power of players drafted by this regime, because they may win out in close races… unless you’re CJ Ham, he stays.
WR Justin Jefferson, WR KJ Osborn, WR Jordan Addison, WR Jalon Nailor, WR Brandon Powell, WR Thayer Thomas
Breakdown: A great group of guys and unfortunately, someone will get cut that is a fan favorite to get to a 53 man roster. The top four in my mind seem like locks, and Powell and Thomas have had great exposure this off-season. I think as a returner, Powell provides enough value to pair with his receiving ability to make the roster and Thayer Thomas is someone I like. So yes, a six man receiving room seems like a fine place to hedge your beats on, especially if one of them gadgets into the backfield like Harvin used to do.
TE TJ Hockenson, TE Josh Oliver, TE Johnny Mundt, TE Ben Sims
Breakdown: Look for Hockenson, Oliver and Mundt to start the tight end group for the Vikings this upcoming season. Whether by scarcity or not, the tight end position looks pretty predictable but Minnesota used tight ends last year. Oliver was a key get this off-season much like Mundt was last off-season. These three have enough talent and versatility as a group to justify this room of players and cap isn’t an issue currently but I look to see another tight end added here, whether they are on roster or not. Sims currently is who would predict in as the fourth option.
- OT Christian Darrisaw, OG Ezra Cleveland, C Garrett Bradbury, OG Ed Ingram, OT Brian O’Neill
- OT Blake Brandel, C Josh Sokol, OL Austin Schlottmann
Breakdown: it’s very plausible. Minnesota could keep nine or ten offensive lineman, but here they keep eight. The same five return in 2023 and start for the Vikings just as they did in 2022. Could there be a surprise signing? Possibly and Dalton Risner makes sense, but as he isn’t on roster currently so he’s not in these projections. Brandel and Schlottman return as back ups, but Sokol is an intriguing center prospect that may squeak onto the roster in fear of another team claiming him.
DE Harrison Phillips, DE Dean Lowry, DE Esezi Otomewo, DE Junio Aho
Breakdown: The Vikings have 53 man roster may look different with a 4-3 scheme but they either way have a defensive line group that could play a lot of tackle or end. Take these names with a grain of salt, as their location might not be as set in stone as one might think. Phillips and Lowery project as the vet starters, but Otomewo and Aho could sneak on as younger guys to develop.
DT Jaquelin Roy, DT Khyiris Tonga, DT Sheldon Day
Breakdown: who will start at defensive tackle in 2023? Who knows, but my money is on Jaquelin, Roy, the rookie out of LSU. Tanga, in de have a solid chance to also start, but have enough talent to make the roster and provide veteran depth as well. In a 4-3 base, these predictions change drastically but for now, I stick to the 3-4.
LB Jordan Hicks, LB Brian Asamoah II, OLB Danielle Hunter, OLB Marcus Davenport, LB Troy Reeder Jr., LB Ivan Pace Jr., OLB Pat Jones II, OLB Luiji Vilain
Breakdown: the largest portion of the roster comes from the linebacker corps, which has players who could be outside linebackers or edge, rushers, depending on Brian Flores, a scheme. Look for Davenport and Hunter to start in some capacity, and Pat Jones II and Luiji Vilain to back up as younger options. Hicks and Asamoah II are project as Minnesota’s inside linebacker tandem but I like Reeder Jr and Pace Jr as depth options as well.
CB Byron Murphy Jr, CB Akayleb Evans, CB Mekhi Blackmon, CB Andrew Booth Jr, CB Tay Gowan, CB Kalon Barnes
Breakdown: A wildly different cornerback room compared to last year, out are Peterson, Dantzler, and Shelly, and in our Murphy Jr, Evans and Blackman. Second rounder Andrew Booth Jr should factor in, and I like Gowan and Barnes chances to round out this room based on reports out of camp and previous history in the NFL.
S Harrison Smith, S Cam Bynum, S Lewis Cine, S Josh Metellus, S Jay Ward
Breakdown: I just don’t like cutting any of these five guys and so I won’t. Your guess on starters is as good as anyone’s, but look for all five of these players, to make an impact. Ward and Bynum’s versatility help and Metellus’s development lands him a spot much like Harris earned a few years back. For starters, I give Smith and Bynum the edge but this defensive backfield will most likely be a bit of a rotation.
LS Andrew DePaola, P Ryan Wright, K Jack Podlesny
Breakdown: No major surprises here for long snapper and punter as DePaola and Wright return. However, I like the Georgia kicker Jack Podlesny to push Greg Joseph for his position and in this projection, he gets it to round out the 53 man roster for Minnesota football.
Griffin 53 Man Roster Prediction
Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall
Breakdown: Newer NFL rule changes after the swath injuries last season help provide team’s with an extra reason to carry a third passer. Jaren Hall likely outperforms Mullens in camp, but Mullens wins the backup spot because of his starting experience.
Alexander Mattison, DeWayne McBride, Kene Nwangwu CJ Ham (FB)
Breakdown: The change in kickoff rules means there will be fewer of them, but there are likely a few games that the Vikings lose last season without Nwangwu providing a spark in the return game. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is cut, but I also expect him to stay in place while Chandler remains the odd man out..
Justin Jefferson, KJ Osborne, Jordan Addison, Jalen Nailor, Trishton Jackson, Brandon Powell
Breakdown: The Jalen Reagor experiment ends with a whimper. Justin Jefferson will continue to draw double coverage, but rookie Jordan Addison should provide relief for the offense by consistently getting open. Nailor made an abundance of plays in OTA’s while Jefferson and Addison were absent, and I think Jackson manages to stay on the 53 given his relationship with O’Connell. .
TJ Hockenson, Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt
Breakdown: This is probably the most straightforward group. Hockenson is an elite player, Oliver is a premier blocker, and Mundt has experience in O’Connell’s system. Ben Ellefson might have been able to fight for a spot, but he’s enjoying a nice beach somewhere in retirement. Muse likely sticks around on the practice squad.
- Christian Darrisaw, Brian O’Neill, Ezra Cleveland, Ed Ingram, Garrett Bradbury
- Oli Udoh, Austin Schlottman, Blake Brandel, Vederian Lowe
Breakdown: In traditional Vikings fashion, last year saw interior offensive line issues, but I think the Vikings hope that continuity will help the group grow into a higher performing unit.
Danielle Hunter, Marcus Davenport, Patrick Jones II, Andre Carter II, DJ Wonnum
Breakdown: I think Andre Carter II, who received one of the largest UDFA contracts in the NFL, surprises a lot of folks this year. Luiji Vilain may stay instead, but I believe he goes on the practice squad.
Harrison Phillips, Dean Lowry, Khyiris Tonga, Jaquelin Roy, Esezi Otomewo, Calvin Avery
Breakdown: A few other veterans make their way out, including Ross Blacklock who joined the team last season. Newcomers Lowry and Roy are expected to be significant contributors.
Brian Asamoah II, Jordan Hicks, Troy Reeder, Ivan Pace Jr.
Breakdown: UDFA Ivan Pace Jr. is going to make waves at the position despite being undersized. If he was a few inches taller, he likely would have been a day 1 or day 2 pick in this year’s draft based on college production. He should make an impact in the Brian Flores’ pressure-heavy scheme.
Byron Murphy Jr., Joejuan Williams, Mekhi Blackmon, Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth Jr., Tay Gowan
Breakdown: Andrew Booth’s return from injury will be important, as he can be a starting caliber player if he stays healthy. There are a lot of new faces after last year’s coverage issues and look for rookie Mekhi Blackmon to provide a lot of optimism going forward.
Harrison Smith, Lewis Cine, Josh Metellus, Jay Ward
Breakdown: A surprise cut – Cam Bynum who was almost always on the field last year is released to make room for the rookie out of LSU, Jay Ward. He made a few important interceptions last season, including a game-sealing one against the NY Jets, but he was also routinely out of position and this is a numbers game. Josh Metellus also stays to bring leadership and special teams smarts to help the other new faces in Flores’ defense.
Ryan Wright, Andrew DePaula, Jack Podlesny
Breakdown: Just like many of his extra points last season, Greg Joseph is flying out of Minnesota. Jack Podlesny has experience in big games, having played on the previous 2 National Championship winning Georgia teams, and he’s converted 99% of XP attempts. Minnesota has another new kicker.