The Minnesota Vikings announced their 53-man roster for the 2020 season on Saturday, and while it still could change as other teams make their cuts and try to sneak players onto the practice squad, there were several interesting decisions made to get down to the final number.
The Vikings are a team with plenty of opportunities as they try to reload on the fly in the NFC North, but this year's roster has plenty of quirks that could play themselves out through the course of the season.
The Vikings keep seven wide receivers
Over the past several years, the Vikings have been a team that's been short on depth at receiver behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. With Diggs traded to Buffalo, the biggest question of the offseason was how the Vikings would replace Diggs and who would be behind Thielen, rookie Justin Jefferson, and new No. 2 receiver Bisi Johnson.
As it turned out, the Vikings opted to hoard receivers and keep seven on this year's roster. Of the ones they kept, two may have different roles as K.J. Osborn took all of the return reps during training camp and Dan Chisnea is an interesting prospect with a 4.32-second 40-yard dash that the Vikings even tried out at safety last week.
The Vikings also kept two players that seemed to be battling for one roster spot as Tajae Sharpe and Chad Beebe both made the team.
On the surface, this appears to be a situation where the Vikings didn't want to lose some of their developmental prospects despite having a 16-man practice squad for 2020. What it does is give them flexibility if Jefferson needs more time to develop as an outside receiver and options if some of the fringe receivers can't contribute with their opportunity.
The 2020 draft class makes the early cut
The Vikings came into the 2020 season relying on plenty of rookies, which is a dangerous idea with the COVID-influenced offseason. Despite not receiving the typical amount of on-field instruction that a rookie would get in a normal offseason, 9 of the 15 rookies selected in the draft made the final roster.
For some of these rookies, such as Jefferson, Jeff Gladney, and Cameron Dantzler, they'll have an immediate opportunity to contribute. Even second-round pick Ezra Cleveland has a bright future despite taking third-team reps at guard toward the tail end of camp.
However, there are some others that feel like more developmental prospects. D.J. Wonnum has been referred to as co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson's "Pet Cat." James Lynch didn't have a good camp but could benefit from practice reps. Troy Dye could be an interesting coverage option and special teamer at linebacker.
There are several ways the Vikings can hide these rookies without exposing them to waivers, which is still a requirement to be placed on the practice squad. The faster the young players can find their footing, the better off the Vikings will be.
The Vikings believe in their backup quarterback situation
It's almost a rite of Vikings fandom these days to be upset at the quarterback situation and we're not even talking about Kirk Cousins.
In the current pandemic, the backup quarterback could be thrust into action sooner than expected and that's why it's alarming that Sean Mannion was the only backup quarterback to make the roster.
At this point in his career, Mannion is what he is. He's going to support Cousins, help him in preparation, and be the support system that he needs to succeed. While this is not something Vikings fans want to hear, it's why Mannion, who has yet to throw his first NFL touchdown entering his sixth season. has beaten out Jake Browning and Nate Stanley.
Browning and Stanley should be able to make it onto the practice squad, but it shouldn't inspire confidence among Vikings fans. If something happens to Cousins, they could be in massive trouble.
The Vikings probably aren't done making moves
With all teams adhering to the 3 p.m. CT deadline to finalize their rosters, there's a lot of options for the Vikings to make an upgrade if they see fit. One area that should see a new face is safetiesm, where Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris currently don't have a backup.
The Vikings tried to fill this role with several players in the draft, but both Josh Metellus and Brian Cole were among the final roster cuts. The Vikings even converted Chisnea to safety but gave up on that experiment after a week.
With so many rookies on the roster, it's possible the Vikings may shop the wire for upgrades, but as it stands, a good chunk of their roster looks set for Week 1 against the Packers.