Bottom of the roster ”A roller-coaster ride”.
I haven't put up a "long post" in quite sometime, so I thought I would throw one out there talking about the bottom of the Vikings roster...
The Vikings have a solid line-up and the Vikings are in a great position to improve team depth. It’s the bottom of the roster and the potential to maximize the talent on this team that should be most interesting through training camp and pre-season activities. While, common wisdom says you don’t want to make a lot of changes to your line-up when pushing for a Superbowl, it’s a great time to bring in talent at the bottom of the line-up.
Ignoring the Favre situation, I would have thought this a position that would be very stable. However, it looks like Joe Webb’s presence could seriously stir the pot. The coaches took a long hard look at Webb as a QB during OTA’s and Minicamp, does it mean they will use Webb as a Wildcat QB or QB3 or do some roster gymnastics and put Webb as QB2 even? Who knows. If I had to guess it’s as a QB3 and as a Wildcat QB, but, don’t expect Webb to be inactive on game day, his athleticism should serve him well as a WR and on special teams as well as his ability to play in a Wildcat package. It also lets the Vikings keep an extra position player on the 53 man roster instead of shelfing a QB3 on the bench and getting no value out of that spot. Don’t discount the value of that when it comes to making the final decision on the 53 man roster. Sage’s departure could net the Vikings two players, a potential draft pick next year, and the position player they get to keep on the roster. Or, he could be traded to upgrade at an area of weakness this year. One way or the other I look for the Vikings to pull the trigger on trading Sage at some point. I do prescribe to the theory that we can pick up another Veteran when Favre retires so maximizing our potential by dealing Sage gives me little worry for the future. I don’t expect Archer to get the QB3 spot, instead he will take a PS position and that spot on the 53 man roster will be filled by a position player.
With the Moats signing, I think it really hurts A Young’s and I Johnson’s ability to make the squad. Expect Moats to be a high quality insurance policy. Reynaud should still have a spot as a 3rd down RB as Moats is more of a 1st/2nd down RB and not known for his pass blocking, more of a backup for AD/Gerhart than anything else. Tahi should also keep the lone FB position unless Childress decides to go with a HB heavy line-up which I would prefer. While Tahi has been less than overwhelming as a lead blocker, I think Childress wants to keep a true FB on the roster so we will just have to live through another year of Tahi doing essentially what a HB would be just as good at doing. D’impero probably won’t be ready to unseat Tahi in year 1, expect him to take a practice squad position.
Webb really is one of the most elite athletes to ever enter the NFL game. Most people get worked up remembering Troy Williamson and think that being a great athlete doesn’t mean a thing. Personally, I don’t think Williamson that good of an all-around athlete to begin with, he was a straight-line athlete with very little ability to “change direction” and poor hands to boot. Webb is a totally different class of athlete and by all reports has decent hands. After Webb, I think G Lewis get’s the nod due to his ability to back-up every position. J Johnson would be my “odd-man-out” at this position. I am not sure we keep him on as a 6th WR with Reynaud also on the roster. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Logan Payne or Taye Biddle surprised us all and grabbed a roster spot. They were both late bloomers in college and have really continued to improve there game. Both Biddle and Payne are also much better athletes than most realize and would pose match-up problems for defenses as a 4th/5th WR. You gotta love that ability in a WR. Seriously, they are two of the best athlete’s at WR bouncing around the league looking for a home. Biddle brings a big frame with 4.28 speed with good mobility and Payne brings good upside as a blocking WR and great potential for Gunner or Gunner defense on Special teams. It won’t be impossible, but, I think the odds are 50/50 at best for Johnson.
This may be the “battle royale” of Training Camp. We have a very talented, but critically undersized and often injured Garrett Mills going against the versatile but very slow footed Jeff Dugan and in steps the young Mickey Shuler who is a solid blocking TE with elite athletic skills that promise at the ability to excel as a pass catching TE as well. I am going to give the nod to Shuler because of his blocking ability and huge upside as an Athletic TE. However, Dugan can fill in for Tahi which is a position of weakness so I think he may keep a spot on the 53 man roster due to his versatility. Mills is probably destined for Free Agency as the “odd-man-out”.
I really think they still bring in another FA like Chester Pitts to improve the depth on this team. After that keeping Cook active as the utility backup and Degeare on the 53 man roster just falls into place. I do think that the Vikings will take a long hard look at all the players they brought in and start the season with some promising players on the Practice Squad with Austin and Brown being my favorites at this point.
I am going to say that Lloyd keeps the roster spot. It’s a game of percentages with Lloyd and I think Childresss sees and like the the value in keeping a KOS. I will brace myself for the backlash when Longwell misses a FG or two on the road….it will be brutal! Just remember he missed 5 FGs in 2008 and no FG Kicker is perfect.
With a packed roster and guys like Griffen and Robison who can move inside Guion and Evans may get shorted this year for actual playing time. However it works out, I think these guys will make the coaches decision very tough as they will be looking to the future with Pat slated for retirement and may even keep both of these guys. However, if Haynesworth becomes a Viking one of these guys gets cut, maybe both.
Jayme Mitchell should make the roster, but, like Guion and Evans probably won’t see much actual playing time being more valuable as long term insurance if Edwards is not signed for 2011.
After our top 4 players this is a group of Special Teams players. I am going to go with Farwell and Triplett as the ones to make it out of camp with Henderson a close 3rd. Don’t be surprised if the Vikings find another talented Linebacker to add to the mix in place of one of these guys.
Disregarding Griffin’s injury, we have a lot of talent at this position. I think we have 6 clear-cut keepers and the only thing to decide each week is who is inactive based on injury/opponent. For a surprise player I will go with Sherels, he may be small, but, he is a phenomenal athlete with the speed/quickness/vertical ability to make-up a lot of ground. He is a good bet to get out of camp on the practice squad and could make the team if Griffin goes on the PUP, although, I would prefer the signing of a veteran like Dre Bly to fill the gap if that happens.
After the top 3, the pickings get really slim. On this packed roster, it’s hard to judge the value of these guys. We added some better and/or bigger athletes to cover what they represent on special teams and in an emergency one of the CBs can rotate over and play safety. I think we only carry three safeties for those reasons. This is another spot I would not be surprised if we saw a late Free Agent signing.
The Vikings are in a unique position, the top of the roster is very solid and they are very deep in quite a few positions. There will be a lot of pressure to make strategic moves at the bottom of the roster to retain as many quality players as possible and maximize the talent available for the 45-man roster. The Tampa-2 defense is easier than most to introduce new players, so, don’t be surprised if there are several moves when good players become available. On offense, only the glaring need at O-line is obvious with a personal wish to replace Tahi with a quality FB as well. I don’t think the Vikings would make all the acquisitions outlined above, but, I am sure they will make one or two of them. With Sage as trade bait, and a huge potential problem in Free agency at LB next year, I would say that a LB would be first on the list and also a good insurance acquisition with EJ recovering from injury.
Re:Bottom of the roster ”A roller-coaster ride”.
Nice breakdown, as this team gets better and better, the bottom of the roster is filled with good young talent, making it hard for anybody to crack the top 53. Also keeping a "Kickoff" specialist will push some talented players out.
Every year around the league good players are let go for the same reasons, I see some good football players not making this squad this year, especially if we sign some debth at safety, or O-line like we may.
Re:Bottom of the roster ”A roller-coaster ride”.
Agree with PT. A very nice breakdown.
Going into this offseason, and into the draft, I wouldn't have guessed we would have drafted as many players as we did because I felt that very few Rooks would/could crack this roster.
After the draft, I am trending towards the believe that all will make the team. Mostly because I think the staff had a clear idea of who they wanted, and in most cases got who they were targeting.
What I like about this draft class is most of them can play multiple positions, which will add to thier chances of making the squad.