With free agency and the draft completed and OTAs and minicamps scheduled for the next month and a half, here’s a closer look at the depth chart for the Minnesota Vikings.
This isn’t a projection for the 53-man roster, as there are more names on this list than will be allowed when cuts are made. This unofficial depth chart aims to provide an idea of what positions will feature the most competition and the players on the verge of making the team. Not all undrafted college free agents and tryout players are accounted for on this list.
Note: Starters in bold
The Vikings made sure they addressed all aspects of their quarterback room in free agency. Minnesota now has its potential franchise QB in Cousins and an experienced, veteran backup in Siemian, and will continue to develop Sloter this season.
Cook will again be the featured back coming off a rookie season cut short by an ACL injury. Minnesota will monitor his workload, which is why also having Murray in the backfield provides a solid one-two punch. The Vikings didn’t find a No. 3 running back in the draft and will look to Brown, Thomas and Boone (both college free agents) to grab hold of the role left vacant by Jerick McKinnon.
Fullback (1): C.J. Ham
Coming off his first season at fullback during which he totaled seven carries for 13 yards, Ham’s job should be about the same or less in John DeFilippo’s offense. Philadelphia didn’t use a fullback, so Ham might see his role transition in 2018.
Aside from one of the NFL’s best wideout duos, the rest of the Vikings' receiver jobs are up for grabs. Wright and Treadwell will battle it out for the No. 3 spot, while the others will aim to carve out a role for themselves in a crowded group. The Vikings will also have three UFA receivers in camp.
Expect to see the Vikings use a significant number of two-tight end sets this season. Conklin, Minnesota’s fifth-round pick, has the potential to be a mismatch given his success lining up as an H-back and F tight end. Along with Rudolph’s success in the red zone, the TE group will be a vital part of the passing game.
This is where things get tricky. The Vikings could choose to move Remmers back to right tackle if second-round pick O’Neill isn’t ready to start Week 1. Both Remmers and backup tackle Hill will play an important role in getting the rookie ready.
The biggest question mark on offense remains on the interior of the O-line. Easton, who is coming off season-ending ankle surgery, is the starting left guard, but who will start at right guard is the million-dollar question. Isidora and Compton will headline the competition while Gossett and Andrews are depth pieces -- something Minnesota's O-line knows it can never have enough of.
Elflein is the starting center. Edison is his backup.
If it were up to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, he’d have 10 cornerbacks on the depth chart. Like last season, the biggest offseason question in the secondary is who will grab hold of the job at nickel corner. Returning for his 16th season, Newman might transition into a roving DB if Alexander is finally ready to take on the role he was drafted to play at nickel. Zimmer said Hughes will likely start working on the outside, and a reasonable expectation for the first-round corner is for him to play around 30 percent of defensive snaps, with most of his work coming on special teams.
The Vikings don’t have as much depth at safety as they do at corner, so look for UFA Matthews, who was expected to be a late-round draft pick, to contend for a backup job.
The same three linebackers (Barr, Kendricks, Gedeon) will be on the field when Minnesota is in its base defense, while the rest of this group will continue to have a big impact on special teams. Brothers, a top performer on special teams, is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, which could pave the way for someone like Hercules Mata'afa to grab a roster spot.
All the pieces are place for the Vikings to create an eight-man rotation on the defensive line to aid with the strength of the pass rush. Minnesota hopes for sizeable contributions from its younger D-linemen, eyeing Holmes to serve as Richardson’s understudy.
Punter (1): Ryan Quigley
Quigley landed 29 punts inside the 20 last season. His job is probably the safest among all specialists given the fact that Minnesota didn’t sign another punter in the offseason.
Another kicking competition? Sign us up. It’s hard to believe the Vikings would trade up to take a kicker in the fifth round if they didn’t expect him to be on the team, so while Forbath is listed as the starter right now, that could change given he has no guaranteed money on his contract and struggled at points during 2017.
McDermott is coming off shoulder surgery, so the offseason signing of Dooley appears to be more of an insurance policy than anything else.
Kick/punt returner (3): Mike Hughes, Marcus Sherels, Stacy Coley
The Vikings weren’t as explosive as they hoped in the return game last season. Drafting a cornerback in the first round who still has developing to do indicates that Hughes will spend most of his time on special teams and in the return game. Hughes averaged 31.8 yards per kickoff return (fourth in FBS) and had two kickoff-return touchdowns (tied for fifth) in 2017.