Projecting the purple: The final 53?

After seeing 90 players get whittled to 75, here is how we see the final cuts coming down, keeping in mind that a waiver wire transaction or two is possible. In essence, a couple of suspensions and injuries could buy the Vikings some time for further assessment.

Here is how we see the final 53 shaping up (the number after the position listing is how many were on the roster at the end of last season; the number after "The projections" is how many we see at the position to start 2013): QUARTERBACK (3)

Current – McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder

The take – The big question is whether or not the Vikings keep three quarterbacks or two. The theory there is that Joe Webb could play in a pinch the team hopes it never reaches. That's not the theory here. Bethel-Thompson is worth developing, so keeping all three is the best move.

The projections (3) – Ponder, Cassel, Bethel-Thompson


Current – Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard, Rhett Ellison, Jerome Felton, Toby Gerhart, Zach Line, Adrian Peterson

The take – Peterson and Gerhart are guarantees. With the suspension to Felton, he won't count against the position group and we expect Ellison to take on most of the lead-blocking duties for Peterson when they want to run plays that require that. So, unlike some others, we don't think Line will make the 53-man roster because he hasn't shown enough as a lead blocker, even though his running skills are intriguing. The big question is who will be the third running back. It's between Asiata and Banyard. Although Asiata seemed to be the clear favorite based off previous playing experience, Banyard gave the Vikings something serious to consider. Ultimately, it could down to experience and special teams contributions, which would lean in Asiata's favor.

The projections – (4) Peterson, Gerhart, Ellison, Asiata. Notes: Felton starts the season on a three-game suspension, so it's possible the Vikings keep either Line or Banyard until he comes back, but they could use that time to have them on their practice squad and keep another linebacker or wide receiver.


Current – Stephen Burton, Greg Childs, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Rodney Smith, Adam Thielen, Joe Webb, Jarius Wright

The take – The top four remain set with Jennings, Simpson, Patterson and Wright. After that, it's a battle for No. 5 and possibly No. 6, and it's almost certainly down to Webb and Burton, as Childs is starting the season on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he won't be available for at least six weeks. Neither Webb nor Burton has shown enough consistency – Webb in catching the ball, Burton in finishing routes – but if nothing intriguing enough pops up on the waiver wire, the thought here is Burton gets the nod for his blocking and experience at the position. Webb would be hard to cut, given everything the "willing soldier" role he has played in being moved from wide receiver to quarterback and back again, which is why he has a chance to stick and develop if they keep six. Thielen and Smith are both decent practice squad candidates.

The projections (5) – Jennings, Simpson, Patterson, Wright, Burton.


Current – Joe Berger, Jeff Baca, Travis Bond, Brandon Fusco, Charlie Johnson, Matt Kalil, Brandon Keith, Troy Kropog, Phil Loadholt, DeMarcus Love, Kevin Murphy, Seth Olsen, John Sullivan.

The take – The five starters – Kalil, Johnson, Sullivan, Fusco and Loadholt – are set, and Berger should have a spot secured as a veteran interior option. If eight is enough again this year, then there are two battles with two people each brewing. The swing tackle is down to Murphy and Keith with Love's suspension ending his hope. Murphy might be a little more athletic, but Keith is more experienced and looks more consistent. With Olsen likely not able to be counted on for the opener after his scary concussion Thursday night, the two rookies, Baca and Bond, could be battling it out for a final spot. Baca was singled out for a good performance Thursday night, but Bond has better size and the ability to play tackle. With his suspension looming, Love might simply be released because he wasn't one of the top four tackles anyways during most of training camp. The upside to keeping him, however, is that he isn't paid during his suspension, so he could be kept around as injury insurance after the first few weeks.

The projections (8) – Kalil, Johnson, Sullivan, Fusco, Loadholt, Berger, Bond, Keith.


Current – Colin Anderson, John Carlson, Chase Ford, Kyle Rudolph

The take – With Ellison being counted among the fullbacks, Rudolph and Carlson are the only ones worthy of status on the 53-man. Despite fumbling at the goal line Thursday night, Ford has had a good training camp and preseason and is worthy of a practice squad spot.

The projections (2) – Rudolph and Carlson


Current – Jared Allen, Chase Baker, Christian Ballard, Everett Dawkins, Fred Evans, Sharrif Floyd, Everson Griffen, Letroy Guion, George Johnson, Anthony McCloud, D'Aundre Reed, Brian Robison, Collins Ukwu, Kevin Williams

The take – The top seven are set with Allen, Guion, Williams and Robison as the starters and Floyd, Evans and Griffen solidly in as backups. The only real decision at defensive end is between Reed and Johnson. Reed has been around longer with the Vikings, but Johnson is stout. Ballard seems like a trade possibility after missing the preseason, leaving a decision for the final defensive tackle spot. Baker has the edge there.

The projections (9) – Allen, Guion, Williams, Robison, Griffen, Floyd, Johnson, Evans, Baker.


Current – Desmond Bishop, Audie Cole, Larry Dean, Chad Greenway, Gerald Hodges, Erin Henderson, Michael Mauti, Tyrone McKenzie, Marvin Mitchell

The take – Greenway, Henderson, Bishop and Mitchell are set, and Bishop may have overtaken Mitchell for the starting job. The real question can be boiled down to how much emphasis the Vikings put on special teams and how much on being able to be a reliable backup on defense. In this case, if the Vikings determine the risk of losing a developmental player on defense isn't worth it, then guys who are mostly special teams coverage guys like McKenzie and Dean could be out.

The projections (8) – Greenway, Henderson, Bishop, Mitchell, Hodges, Cole, Mauti and Dean.


Current – Robert Blanton, Brandon Burton, Chris Cook, Darius Eubanks, Bobby Felder, A.J. Jefferson, Mistral Raymond, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Jamarca Sanford, Andrew Sendejo, Marcus Sherels, Harrison Smith, Roderick Williams

The take – The Vikings can't afford to leave themselves short of options at cornerback with injuries popping up there too often. The "starting five" (counting the nickel corner) will be Cook, Robinson, Rhodes, Smith and Sanford. Blanton should be safe, but Raymond has had a hard time staying on the field. Still, with Sendejo mostly a special teams guy, cutting Raymond would leave them with only one viable backup safety and that seems too risky.

The projections (11) – Cook, Robinson, Rhodes, Smith, Sanford, Blanton, Raymond, Jefferson, Sherels, Sendejo, Burton (this is assuming Felder will need a few weeks to recover and gets put on the PUP, giving Sherels and Burton life).


Current – Jeff Locke, Cullen Loeffler, Blair Walsh

The take – There isn't much explanation needed. The only potential question is whether the Vikings will keep Locke holding on field goals, but he has proven to be a solid replacement for Chris Kluwe as a punter.

The projections (3) – Walsh, Locke, Loeffler.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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