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Will the Vikings final depth chart resemble the ‘unofficial’ version?

The Minnesota Vikings released their unofficial depth chart as they prepare to play against the New Orleans Saints in the preseason opener on Friday night. Here is a look at each position and how much could potentially change over the coming weeks…

Quarterbacks

QB1 QB2 QB3 QB4
Kirk Cousins Sean Mannion Kyle Sloter Jake Browning

The biggest question: Can Sloter or Browning make things interesting? 

So far in training camp Mannion hasn’t been challenged for the backup quarterback job. He has a strong arm and is largely consistent from day to day in practice. The former Rams backup also comes from a system that has similarities with the Vikings’ expected scheme and he has some in-game experience. Sloter has been inconsistent in practice and has split reps with Browning, giving the indication that the competition is presently between Sloter and Browning for QB3 (or to simply convince the Vikings to keep three quarterbacks).

Sloter has put together strong performances in preseason games with both Denver and Minnesota but those have come mostly against third and fourth teams. Will he get a chance to play against the twos? And will Browning have a chance to see action and potentially beat out Sloter for QB3 or a practice squad job? Last year the fourth QB saw basically no action in the preseason. That could change this year.

Running backs

RB1 RB2 RB3 RB4
Dalvin Cook Alexander Mattison Ameer Abdullah Mike Boone
FB1 FB2
CJ Ham
Khari Blasingame

The biggest question: Can Mike Boone still win a roster spot? 

Over the first few weeks of camp Mattison has not only established himself as the backup running back but given the Vikings reason to believe he could have a role and/or be trusted if Cook misses time. Abdullah’s kick/punt return abilities make him a virtual lock for a job. He also has solid pass catching ability that could allow the Vikings to use him situationally.

That could leave Boone as the odd man out. He put together a strong preseason in 2018 but rarely saw the field during the regular season. However, the Vikings did keep four RBs and a fullback last year. Boone’s athleticism and explosiveness gives him a chance to create some big preseason plays and convince the Vikings they need one more weapon.

Wide receivers 

1 2 3
WR Adam Thielen Chad Beebe
Laquon Treadwell
WR Stefon Diggs Jordan Taylor Jeff Badet
Extras Brandon Zylstra Bisi Johnson Davion Davis
Dillon Mitchell
Alexander Hollins

The biggest question: Will anyone take a job away from Laquon Treadwell?

Considering the Vikings 2016 first-round pick has played almost exclusively with the backups during camp practices, it appears the door is wide open for an unproven receiver to make plays in preseason games and win a depth job. Beebe is the runaway WR3 heading into preseason action but everything is up in the air behind him. The Vikings seem intrigued with Badet, who is blazing fast and has potential to be a deep threat. Johnson and Mitchell, who were both drafted in the seventh round this year, have had ups and downs during camp. Zylstra made the team last year and put together a strong night practice. Hollins and Davis are the long shots.

If none of the depth receivers emerge, the Vikings won’t have much choice but to keep Treadwell.

Tight ends

TE1 TE2 TE3 Extras
Kyle Rudolph Irv Smith Tyler Conklin David Morgan
Cole Hikutini
Brandon Dillon

The biggest question: Can Conklin earn a role in the offense? 

Tyler Conklin has been one of the standouts of training camp and head coach Mike Zimmer said that he could see him making a difference in his sophomore season. But it will have to show on the field during preseason games. Also the status of Morgan is unclear. He hasn’t practiced yet, making it difficult to see him on the field for Week 1. Will the play of Conklin determine whether he remains on the team?

Offensive line 

1 2 3 4
LT Riley Reiff Aviante Collins
LG Pat Elflein Dakota Dozier Tyler Catalina
C Garrett Bradbury Brett Jones Cornelius Edison John Keenoy
RG Josh Kline Danny Isidora Dru Samia
RT Brian O’Neill Rashod Hill Oli Udoh

The biggest question: Will fourth-round pick Dru Samia make the team? 

The Vikings were excited to draft the Oklahoma guard in the fourth round but the competition is stiff for backup jobs on the interior. Isidora, a fifth-round pick in 2017, hasn’t played at an exceptional level when he’s been given a chance over the last two seasons but the Vikings know what they have in the former Miami lineman.

It’s possible that neither could make the team if the Vikings choose to keep Jones and Dozier as the backup interior players and Collins (or another tackle they sign) and Hill as the tackles.

Defensive line 

LE Danielle Hunter Ifeadi Odenigbo Karter Schult Stacy Keely
DT Shamar Stephen Jalyn Holmes Hercules Mata’afa Chris Cothran
NT Linval Joseph Jaleel Johnson Armon Watts
RE Everson Griffen Stephen Weatherly Ade Aruna
Anree Saint-Amour

The big question: Which third-teamer can make some noise?

At the moment the four backups on the depth chart appear to be locks to make the roster. The most interesting of the bunch is Ifeadi Odenigbo, who left the Vikings last year and then returned, only to find himself with a good shot to make the team. It would take a much stronger effort from Mata’afa to unseat Holmes for the job of situational pass rusher from the three-technique position. Watts has a leg up being a sixth-round pick. With Tashawn Bower out, Karter Schult has an outside chance of putting his name on the map during the preseason games.

Linebackers

1 2 3
WLB Ben Gedeon Eric Wilson Reshad Cliett
MLB Eric Kendricks Kentrell Brothers Cameron Smith
SLB Anthony Barr Devante Downs Greer Martini

The biggest question: Are there any questions?

Linebacker is the most locked-in, all-set, watch-other-players-during-preseason-games position on the field. The only debate might be whether they keep Downs or Smith as special teamers.

Cornerbacks

1 2 3
LCB Trae Waynes Mike Hughes Craig James
RCB Xavier Rhodes Mackensie Alexander Bene Benwikere
Extras Duke Thomas Nate Meadors
Kris Boyd Holton Hill

The biggest question: Who will fill Hughes’ shoes if he can’t start the season? 

Mike Hughes has been working to recover from offseason ACL surgery but he doesn’t appear close to hitting the field in an actual game. With Holton Hill suspended for the first eight games, that leaves the door open to anyone any everyone to win a job. The Vikings signed Benwikere, who has played with Carolina, Dallas, Oakland and Arizona since entering the league in 2014. Unless he struggles mightily, Benwikere will have a job to start the year. Behind him it’s unclear. Kris Boyd, a seventh-round pick, has shown enough potential to make the team but he will have to carry his performance over to the games. James was brought back last year after a strong preseason but hasn’t been exceptional during camp.

Safeties

1 2 3
SS Harrison Smith Derron Smith Isaiah Wharton
FS Anthony Harris Jayron Kearse Marcus Epps

The biggest question: Derron Smith or Marcus Epps?

The former AAF standout Smith has put together a strong camp and presently has a leg up on the rookie. Epps, however, might have enough flexibility to play nickel cornerback in a pinch. Considering the shortage of corners, that could give him an opportunity with a few strong preseason games.

Special teams 

K Dan Bailey
P Matt Wile
LS Kevin McDermott Austin Cutting
KR Ameer Abdullah Jeff Badet Bisi Johnson
PR Ameer Abdullah Chad Beebe Dillon Mitchell

The biggest question: Can Dan Bailey keep competition away?

Bailey has been mostly fine during camp but last year preseason game struggles put Daniel Carlson in Zimmer’s crosshairs. The head coach might get a little nervous if his kicker isn’t nails.





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