Weekly Viking Roundup

Rounding up the roster analysis

Last week, we took a look at the Minnesota Vikings’ cornerback depth chart. If you happened to miss the article, you can find it on my Facebook page through the web address that’s listed below.

Jordan COLUMN BOXLast week, we took a look at the Minnesota Vikings’ cornerback depth chart. If you happened to miss the article, you can find it on my Facebook page through the web address that’s listed below.

This will be the final week of the roster breakdown series. The safety position is one of the biggest battles this training camp, and we likely won’t know the victor until the first regular season game against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 11.

Starters: Harrison Smith

There is only one starter listed here, as the other safety spot across from Harrison Smith is truly up for grabs. Smith, however, has his position locked down. Given a grade of 92.8 by Pro Football Focus, Smith was the highest rated safety in 2015. The Vikings recognized his value to the defense and gave Smith a five-year contract extension worth over $51 million.

On the bubble: Andrew Sendejo, Michael Griffin, Anthony Harris, Jayron Kearse, Antone Exum Jr.

Last season the Vikings kept four safeties on the opening day roster, which means two of the safeties listed above will likely be cut within the next month. The player with the best chance to start across from Harrison Smith is also the player who had the lowest PFF player grade of the group and one of the lowest scores for any safety in the NFL: Andrew Sendejo. Sendejo was just given a four-year contract this past off-season, so unfortunately it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

If Sendejo is a virtual lock to make the team, that leaves Griffin, Harris, Kearse and Exum to battle it out for the two remaining spots. Griffin is a two-time Pro Bowler who didn’t fit the youth movement of the Titans and might resurrect his career in a new setting.

Harris was the Vikings’ second highest graded safety last season, and at only 24 years old, he has plenty of room for growth.

The Vikings used a draft pick a few months ago on Kearse, and all indications coming out of training camp point to Kearse impressing so far.

Exum Jr. is entering his third season in the NFL, and is another up-and-coming player in Mike Zimmer’s defense.

So far, Sendejo is getting most of the first team reps in practice, but both Griffin and Harris are getting looks with the first team as well. Unless Griffin earns the starting role, he will likely be cut, as the Vikings have plenty of youth behind him that give the team a promising future.

Kicker

Blair Walsh is entering his fifth NFL season. After earning Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors his rookie season, Walsh has regressed some. The Vikings have high hopes for Walsh, signing him to a contract extension that will keep him in purple and gold through the 2019 season.

He might be forever known as the kicker who missed a chip-shot field goal in the playoffs, but he led the league in field goals made last year while also bringing his accuracy up to 87.2 percent, the second best mark of his career (rookie season, 92.1 percent).

Punter

Jeff Locke had the worst year of his short career in 2015. After averaging a paltry 44.2 yards per punt in both 2013 and 2014, that average plummeted to 41.6 last year. For some reason, the Vikings have elected not to bring in competition for Locke this offseason. Luckily, Locke is entering the last year of his rookie contract, so if he doesn’t significantly raise his game this year, the Vikings will likely be looking for his replacement next off-season.

Don’t forget to watch the Vikings take on the Cincinnati Bengals this Friday, Aug. 12! The next article you read will be a game recap, and I’m giddy with excitement!

If you would like me to keep an eye on any particular players during the pre-season, let me know by reaching out to me through e-mail: skoljwright@gmail.com, Facebook: facebook.com/skoljwright, or Twitter: @skoljwright.

Jordan Wright is a sports columnist covering the Minnesota Vikings. His work can be read in papers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota and on TheVikingAge.com.