Vikings roster: Don't assume the position

Mike Zimmer knows he has to whittle his current 90-man roster down to 53. Fans will be focused on the names that distinguish themselves in their roster battles in training camp, but Zimmer, Rick Spielman and the coaching staff will be going second level with filling out the roster – weighing an abundance of talent at one position against a practical breakdown of a 53-man roster.

The Vikings announced their training camp dates Tuesday and it is the next step in the progression to who will make the final 53-man roster. For the next two months-plus, we will be talking about the names who we believe will make the roster, but just as important is how the 53 players are spread across the roster by position.

There are certain positions that are already spoken for. There will certainly be three special teamers and most likely three quarterbacks. Other than that, anything is fair game and many of the spots have already been spoken for. The names will be filled in later, but the check marks are already in place as to how many players a team must have and how many they are potentially/likely to keep at each position.

Here is the accepted numbers game that will be in play when the Vikings finalize their roster on Labor Day weekend:

Quarterbacks (must have 2/potentially 3) Running Backs (3/4)
Wide Receivers (5/6)
Tight Ends (3/4)
Offensive Tackles (4/4)
Guards (3/4)
Centers (2/2)
Defensive Ends (4/5)
Defensive Tackles (4/5)
Outside Linebackers (4/5)
Middle Linebackers (2/3)
Cornerbacks (4/6)
Safeties (4/5)
Special Teams (3/3)

When you add the totals up, you arrive at 47 players that are needed. That leaves only six wild card spots that can be used at different positions. When you look at the number of players that could be on the final 53-man roster, you have a total of 59 – six more than can be on the final roster.

When training camp opens in late July, there are going to be 90 players looking for the 53 spots that will be available. Given the way rosters are filled, 47 spots are all but assured to be locked down by players at positions that have minimum requirements. In essence, you have the other 43 guys fighting for six spots to be determined.

The math that is required by the powers that be with the Vikings won’t simply be what players win spots, but what happens at one position if the Vikings keep an extra wide receiver, defensive lineman or cornerback? One move for an extra body at one position will have to come at the expense of another position, which adds a second level to how the final roster will break down when the Vikings get geared up for the preseason.

It won’t just be position battles that will be won or lost during training camp and the preseason. There will be competition between players from both sides of the ball for the last couple of available roster spots and the battles could be fierce enough to make those final cuts more than just picking the best players, it will entail picking players that will create competition for a couple of spots across position lines.

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