Depth is typically one of the main signs of a team's ascent from the middle of the pack to the top. Even before it showed up on the field, like in the cases of the Vikings in 1998, Rams in 1999 and Patriots in 2001, it was evident on the depth chart.
The Vikings are very close to achieving the depth needed to be a champ. Consider the following:
QUARTERBACK -- Daunte Culpepper is clearly the starter, but if he goes down, veteran Gus Frerotte can lead the offense in the interim.
RUNNING BACK -- Michael Bennett is the man, but veterans Moe Williams and Doug Chapman will have to fight to keep rookie Onterrio Smith from stealing playing time.
WIDE RECEIVER -- Randy Moss is the real deal, but competition for the No. 2 spot will be between D'Wayne Bates, Derrick Alexander, Kelly Campbell and Nate Burleson. While only one player can get the starting job, depth and more importantly quality depth, will be deeper than it's been in years.
OFFENSIVE LINE -- With the signing of Mike Rosenthal, the Vikings can move Chris Liwienski back to his natural left guard position and, behind a very solid front five, can still trot out versatile backups like Cory Withrow, Lewis Kelly and Everett Lindsay.
DEFENSIVE LINE -- The addition of Kevin Williams gives the Vikings a fourth solid starter on the front line and the backup help includes versatile Billy Lyon and Lorenzo Bromell.
LINEBACKER -- Suddenly the deepest position on the team, the Vikings have veterans Chris Claiborne, Greg Biekert and Henri Crockett as potential starters and youngsters E.J. Henderson Raonall Smith and Nick Rogers as the future of the position.
SECONDARY -- The only remaining weak link, Denard Walker and Ken Irvin give the Vikings some depth, but problems remain at safety, the only position not addressed in the draft or free agency.
The Vikings may still be a bit away from making the final leap to a return to the top in the NFL, but one thing has become certain -- depth is not the concern it's been the last couple of years and the Vikings can absorb an injury or two without having it take a toll on the entire team.
Depth Forming on Roster
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