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Projecting the Minnesota Vikings 53-man roster prior to cut day

Preseason for the Minnesota Vikings ended on Saturday with an 18-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The next time the team will take the field at U.S Bank Stadium is on Sep. 10 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But, before that, the front office on Tuesday will be making arguably the decision in professional sports: trimming the roster from 91 players to 53. Ahead of the Aug. 29, 3 p.m. CT deadline, here’s what the 53-man roster could look like.


In (3): Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall

Out (1): Jordan Ta’amu

Carrying three quarterbacks will be more appealing with a recent rule change allowing teams to carry an emergency QB. The Vikings possess one of the more established quarterbacks, Kirk Cousins, who is entering his sixth season with the team, and veteran backup Nick Mullens. Jaren Hall’s performance against the Arizona Cardinals and progression throughout the preseason strengthen his case to make the final 53-man roster. O’Connell hinted at keeping Hall around the 11:50 mark in this video as well as after the preseason finale.

 Running Backs

In (4): Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, Aaron Dykes, C.J. Ham (Fullback)

Out (3): DeWayne McBride, Kene Nwangwu, Abram Smith

Unless the Vikings plan to acquire a free agent, e.g., Kareem Hunt, the one-two punch of Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler will lead the way. Behind them is where it is uncertain. Kene Nwangwu’s unavailability during preseason and training could hurt his chances of making the roster. Aaron Dykes ability to contribute in the kick return game, as well as being a more established rusher in college compared to Nwangwu, makes him a surprise candidate to make the team.

Tight Ends

In (3): T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt

Out (3): Nick Muse, Ben Sims, Colin Thompson

By the end of the 2023 NFL season, the Vikings could have the best tight end room in the NFL. T.J Hockenson, and Josh Oliver are among the best at what they thrive in. Johnny Mundt is a capable back up; what was a concern heading into last season is now a strength of this team.

Wide Receivers

In (5): Justin Jefferson, K.J Osborn, Jordan Addison, Jalen Reagor, Brandon Powell

Out (7): Jalen Nailor, Blake Proehl, Trishton Jackson, Thayer Thomas, Jacob Copeland, Garett Maag, Luck Jackson

The top three are obvious. Justin Jefferson is the best non-quarterback in the NFL. K.J. Osborn has worked his tail off to become a reliable second or third option, while first-round selection Jordan Addison’s route running and separation ability will cause havoc for defenses.

Expect Brandon Powell to make the final 53. Special teams help his case as he’s been handling the punt return duties; he cribbed one in U.S. Bank Stadium in December of 2021. But he’s also shown off his ability at the wide receiver position throughout training camp.

Whoever the fifth or possibly sixth wide receiver is a bit of a toss-up. The best ability is availability, and that’s what Jalen Reagor holds over Jalen Nailor throughout preseason and training camp. Six receivers are possible, but the likelihood is low.

Offensive Line

In (9): Brian O’Neil, Christian Darrisaw, Ed Ingram, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Austin Schlottman, Blake Brandel, Chris Reed, Vederian Lowe

Out (5): Alan Ali, Jack Snyder, Christian DiLauro, Jarrid Williams, Oli Udoh, Josh Sokol

The same five starters along the offensive line go a long way regarding cohesion. Brian O’Neil and Christian Darrisaw lock the tackle positions, while Garrett Bradbury starts his fifth year at center after signing a 3-year, $15.7 million contract this offseason. Ed Ingram, and Ezra Cleveland are the current guards, but there will need to be improvements in their pass protection for this unit to take another step forward.

Blake Brandel offers the ability to step in at guard while Vederian Lowe appears to be the swing tackle of the future. The only surprise cut could be Oli Udoh after an atrocious performance against the Tennessee Titans.

Defensive Linemen

In (6): Dean Lowry, Harrison Phillips, Jaquelin Roy, Jonathan Bullard, Khyiris Tonga, Ross Blacklock

Out (5): Calvin Avery, Esezi Otomewo, Junior Aho, Sheldon Day, T.J Smith

Dean Lowry, Harrison Phillips, and Jonathan Bullard combine for 130 regular season starts. Ross Blacklock is still relatively young, and the same is said for Khyiris Tonga who posted a 77.9 Pro Football Focus grade during the 2022 season. Jaquelin Roy was the team’s only investment during the draft.

Outside Linebackers

In (5): Danielle Hunter, Marcus Davenport, D.J Wonnum, Patrick Jones, Luiji Vilain

Out (2): Andre Carter II, Benton Whitley

Restructuring Danielle Hunter’s contract was vital to ending any drama for this season, and Marcus Davenport will fill the void left by Za’Darius Smith. Luiji Vilain and Patrick Jones have ceilings that could potentially be reached. D.J Wonnum is entering the final year of his rookie contract. If he becomes a cut candidate, that fifth spot goes to Andre Carter II.

Inside Linebackers

In (4): Brian Asamoah II, Ivan Pace Jr., Jordan Hicks, Troy Dye

Out (4): Abraham Beauplan, Huber Wilson, Tanner Vallejo, Troy Reeder

For the first time since 2014, Eric Kendricks will not be patrolling the middle of the field. The candidate to lineup next to Jordan Hicks heading into this off-season was 2022 third-round-pick Brian Asamoah II, but that is up in the air. That’s because of the ascendance of undrafted free agent rookie Ivan Pace Jr., who not only sealed a spot as a Vikings but a potential starter.


In (7): Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth Jr., Byron Murphy Jr., Jay Ward, Joejuan Williams, Najee Thompson, Mekhi Blackmon

Out (3): Jay Williams, Kalon Barnes, Tay Gowan

The cornerback room will feature a flock of youth, with four players drafted within the last two drafts. Byron Murphy Jr., 25, is the No. 1 corner in this unit, and Joejuan Williams, 24, comes over from the New England Patriots with familiarity in Brian Flores’ defensive scheme. Najee Thompson made an excellent case to make the final 53-man roster with his performance on special teams against the Titans and Seattle Seahawks.


In (4): Camryn Bynum, Harrison Smith, Josh Metellus, Lewis Cine

Out (2): C.J. Colden Jr., Jake Gervase, Theo Jackson

We know what we’re getting out of Harrison Smith as he’s entering his 12th season with the team, one shy of Paul Krause, and ironically, they wear the same number. How Smith will be used in Flores’ scheme is something to keep an eye out for. He had just 12 pass rush snaps in 2022, down from 43 the previous year and 36 in 2020.

Josh Metellus will see an increased role within this defense, while Lewis Cine, knock on wood, will get an entire season of playing time. With Camryn Bynum filling out the unit, this room is fun to watch.


In (3): Andrew DePaola, Greg Joseph, Ryan Wright

Greg Joseph was lights out during the preseason until his final kick against the Cardinals. His job never was really in jeopardy, and overall, he has produced some clutch kicks, except for what happened again against the Cardinals in 2021, with the Vikings.


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