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What We Learned From the Vikings' First Unofficial Depth Chart of the Season

Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion are still battling for the backup quarterback job.
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The Vikings released their first unofficial depth chart for the 2022 season on Wednesday. Here's what it looks like, with thoughts on what's notable at each position:

Offense

Quarterbacks

  • Starter: Kirk Cousins
  • Backups: Kellen Mond OR Sean Mannion

The Vikings breaking out the "OR" here is interesting. Mond has really struggled so far in camp, but so has Mannion. Mond still has the higher ceiling and lower floor, while Mannion is more of a known commodity as a replacement-level backup with value in the meeting room. The preseason games will likely hold a lot of weight in this battle.

Running backs

  • Starter: Dalvin Cook
  • Backups: Alexander Mattison; Kene Nwangwu; Ty Chandler; Bryant Koback

Nothing of note here. That's exactly how I'd expect the depth chart to remain, with the slight possibility of the rookie Chandler leapfrogging Nwangwu.

Fullbacks

  • Starter: C.J. Ham
  • Backup: Jake Bargas

Bargas is merely a practice squad candidate and injury insurance.

Wide receivers

  • Starters: Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson
  • Backups: K.J. Osborn and Ihmir Smith-Marsette; Bisi Johnson and Myron Mitchell; Trishton Jackson OR Jalen Nailor and Dan Chisena; Albert Wilson; Thomas Hennigan and Blake Proehl (Proehl is on the Active/PUP list)

It's kind of odd that the Vikings only listed two receivers as starters. The majority of the time, they'll be in three-receiver sets with Osborn as the No. 3 WR and either Ham or a tight end on the field, not both. Smith-Marsette as the WR4 isn't surprising. What is notable is Johnson and Mitchell being in the 5/6 spots over guys like Wilson and Nailor. Unofficial depth charts don't mean a ton, but this doesn't feel like good news for Wilson. It's going to be very, very interesting to see how the roster puzzle shakes out at receiver. Each of the first ten names on this list could legitimately make it, but the Vikings will realistically only keep 6 or 7.

Tight ends

  • Starter: Irv Smith, Jr.
  • Backups: Johnny Mundt; Ben Ellefson; Zach Davidson; Nick Muse; Shaun Beyer

Ellefson over Davidson is the only notable thing here. Ellefson is the better blocker, Davidson the receiver with more upside. Smith is injured right now, so each of the next three on the depth chart have gotten opportunities with the first-team offense.

Tackles

  • Starters: Christian Darrisaw (LT) and Brian O'Neill (RT)
  • Backups: Blake Brandel (LT) and Olisaemeka Udoh (RT); Vederian Lowe (LT) and Timon Parris (RT)

This all makes sense. Darrisaw has drawn rave reviews in camp. Will both Brandel and Udoh make it or just one? What about the rookie Lowe? We'll see.

Interior offensive linemen

  • Starters: Ezra Cleveland (LG), Garrett Bradbury (C) and Jesse Davis (RG)
  • Backups: Chris Reed (LG), Austin Schlottmann (C) and Ed Ingram (RG); Kyle Hinton (LG), Josh Sokol (C) and Wyatt Davis (RG)

Jesse Davis is listed as the starting right guard for now, but Ingram got some first-team reps on Wednesday and might be the favorite to end up with that job. Reed and Schlottmann have alternated between LG and C on the second-team line, so I'm curious to see how that plays out. Wyatt Davis, a third-round pick a year ago, remains buried with the 3s and looks unlikely to make the roster.

Defense

Defensive ends

  • Starters: Dalvin Tomlinson and Armon Watts
  • Backups: Jonathan Bullard and James Lynch; Jaylen Twyman and Esezi Otomewo; Jullian Taylor

Bullard and Lynch get the backup nods here. Bullard is a veteran who has familiarity with multiple coaches on the Vikings' roster and might be a great fit for Ed Donatell's 3-4 scheme. Lynch is also better suited for the 3-4 DE role — like he did at Baylor — than he was to play three-technique in Mike Zimmer's 4-3. Twyman and Otomewo still have time to prove themselves.

Nose tackles

  • Starter: Harrison Phillips
  • Backups: T.J. Smith; T.Y. McGill, Jr.; Tyarise Stevenson
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I'm not sure any of these three backups will make the roster. Maybe Smith. Tomlinson can also easily play nose, as can guys like Watts and Lynch.

Outside Linebackers

  • Starters: Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith
  • Backups: Pat Jones II and D.J. Wonnum; Luiji Vilain and Janarius Robinson; Andre Mintze and Zach McCloud

The only thing that stands out here is undrafted rookie Vilain being above Mintze, a second-year player who was with Donatell and the Broncos last year.

Inside Linebackers

  • Starters: Eric Kendricks (MLB) and Jordan Hicks (WLB)
  • Backups: Troy Dye (MLB) and Brian Asamoah II (WLB); Chazz Surratt (MLB) and Blake Lynch (WLB); Ryan Connelly (MLB — on Active/PUP list) and William Kwenkeu (WLB)

Dye and Asamoah over Surratt and Lynch makes sense given what we've seen so far in camp. Dye filled in for Hicks early in camp when he missed a couple days and Asamoah is a third-round pick the team is high on. Will Surratt and/or Lynch make this roster?

Cornerbacks

  • Starters: Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler, Sr.
  • Backups: Chandon Sullivan and Andrew Booth, Jr.; Kris Boyd and Akayleb Evans; Parry Nickerson and Harrison Hand; Nate Hairston and Tye Smith

Technically, Sullivan is a starter. The Vikings are going to be in nickel more than they'll be in their base 3-4, and Sullivan is the slot corner. Rookies Booth and Evans will make the team, leaving maybe one spot for Boyd, Nickerson, and Hand. This doesn't look great for Hairston's chances. Booth is still pushing Dantlzer for the starting job on the other side of Peterson.

Safety

  • Starters: Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum
  • Backups: Lewis Cine and Josh Metellus; Myles Dorn and Mike Brown

Cine and Bynum are battling for a starting job, but both will have significant roles on the defense this year. Metellus should make the roster because of his special teams value.

Special teams

Kicker

  • Starter: Greg Joseph

What a great camp he's had so far.

Punters/holders

  • Starter: Jordan Berry
  • Backup: Ryan Wright

I really don't expect the undrafted Wright to beat out Berry.

Long snapper

  • Starter: Andrew DePaola

Kickoff returners

  • Starter: Nwangwu
  • Backup: Osborn; Chandler

This is obviously Nwangwu's job after he led the NFL with two touchdown returns last year. Chandler is more interesting than Osborn to me as a backup.

Punt returners

  • Starter: Smith-Marsette
  • Backup: Nailor

Smith-Marsette being listed as the punt returner is very notable. He didn't return any punts last year as a rookie, nor did he return punts in college. However, Smith-Marsette was a good kick returner at Iowa, and he's been catching punts off the machine every day in practice. If he can get that down, he could be a dangerous weapon in that role. Nailor has some experience from college. Osborn and Wilson have also caught punts during and after practice this year.

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