2014 Depth Chart: Minnesota Vikings

A look at the depth and quality of each position on the roster for the 2014 Minnesota Vikings.

| 2 years ago
32-lineups-MIN

2014 Depth Chart: Minnesota Vikings


2014 depth update MIN

[Chart last updated 7/3/14]  

Notes

•  For a team that struggled so much last year, the Vikings have an awful lot of player who are at least good starters, especially on offense. It’s highlighted by Adrian Peterson, but Vikings fans can also feel excited about the big-play ability of Cordarrelle Patterson and the emergence of Matt Kalil at left tackle.

•  The offensive line is an area of particular strength, especially on the right side where Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt have formed one of the best right sides in the league. Adding to that is that strength of John Sullivan in the middle, with left guard Charlie Johnson the only weak link.

•  The biggest changes on the Vikings’ defense heading into 2014 are on the defensive line. Kevin Williams and Jared Allen are gone, with Linval Joseph coming in. Joseph is a solid player to have in the middle of the line and, while he was a big player for the Vikings over the years, both Brian Robison and Everson Griffen played better than Allen a year ago.

•  Some might think our rating of Chad Greenway is harsh, but the drop-off in his play from 2012 to 2013 was sharp. They reportedly plan on moving him to weak side linebacker this year, with rookie Anthony Barr taking over on the strong side, but his play needs to improve dramatically in 2014.

Roster Battles

1.  Quarterback

Heading into May’s NFL Draft the quarterback position was one that Vikings fans looked to with peril. Neither Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder would fill you with much hope at quarterback heading into the season so the addition of rookie Teddy Bridgewater at the end of the first round has given fans a silver lining to look forward to. The question now is just how quickly he can ascend the depth chart but, with the two players in front of him struggling more often than not, you wouldn’t be surprised to see him open the season under center.

2.  Middle Linebacker

Erin Henderson is gone at middle linebacker in Minnesota, but who will replace him is very much up in the air. Audie Cole reportedly took the snaps with the base unit during the most recent OTAs, but he’ll be competing with the returning Jasper Brinkley throughout the offseason. Based on last season neither are likely to make a big impact in the middle, but Cole did at least flash some skills in coverage when he got on the field last year.

3.  Backup Running Back

While Peterson’s talents aren’t up for debate, there are plenty of question marks behind him on the roster. Top backup Toby Gerhart left for Jacksonville in free agency, and Matt Asiata saw 44 carries late in the year with injuries at the position. It’s tough to see Asiata as a viable backup at this stage, though, and rookie Jerick McKinnon might be the one who winds up as Peterson’s top backup in 2014.

 

Click here to see all of the depth charts we’ve covered.

 

Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Viking Fan

    Pretty fair assessment. While I think Loadholt isn’t elite when compared against all tackles I think you could argue he’s elite if compared to just RT. Also I would have expect Griffen to be a good starter. To few snaps to be considered any higher than average? Looking at this roster I’m very happy with the Mike Zimmer hire, I think he can push the “average to good” to the next level. A lot of talent to work with.

    • Thomas Holm

      I think the rating of Griffen is due to the fact that many sub package players have struggled when given a bigger role. While Griffen was certainly good last year, he did much of his work as a DT on obvious passing downs. With the departure of Allen, he might lose those snaps and become a full time DE where he might not be as effective.

    • Gordon McGuinness

      With Griffen they feeling was that, while he did improve in 2013, it wasn’t quite enough to bump him up. A similar increase in performance this year would do it though and like you said, Zimmer is a good hire – known for getting the most of of Defensive Linemen when he was with the Bengals.

      • Gordon McGuinness

        *the feeling

  • Mnstorm99

    Poor starter on Greenway DOES seem a bit harsh, but not too harsh as I would put him as below average after last year. Makes on wonder what the effect was having such a bad defensive system last year, and how Greenway could bounce back under Zimmer. Greenway has the potential to be a good (or dare I say high quality) starter. As a Viking fan, I feel pretty good about the fact that he is the only poor starter on this depth chart.

  • wyzel

    Cassel is slated as day 1 starter. as unexciting as that is.

    • Chris from the Cape

      I remember the Red Sox bringing up some talented pitchers from the minors too early and they were never the same. Risking the same for Bridgewater and getting replaced by Cassel would be quite a humiliation for a QB to get over.

      • wyzel

        So so true, ponder should never have seen the field year one. Rodgers is example we should use, he sat and that is a big reason for his success. I want to see how well mallet would play now as a starter.

  • NAJ

    Don’t agree with the O-line grades. They can’t be high quality starters when the QB has always been under pressure. It’s certainly not all down to Charlie Johnson. I believe Rhodes will become a high quality starter by years end, he started showing top quality cover skills at the end of the year!

    • Arif Hasan

      It’s probably the fact that a lot of QB pressure was due to holding on to the ball too long. The OL is a very good one.

      • NAJ

        I disagree strongly, I can remember watching Ponder playing and getting less than 5 seconds almost every single time he passed, quite often less than 3. Part of that was Musgrave being very predictable but they are not a good pass protecting O-line. Run blocking they’re decent but made to look better because Peterson consistently breaks tackles and personally think they are an overrated line

        • Arif Hasan

          Do you think the QB needs to have 5 seconds? That might be part of the problem. Standard is 2.8 seconds, and some systems 2.5.

        • Josh Havlik

          You have to admit, Ponder isn’t very adept at sliding away/stepping up from pressure. Ponder’s problems weren’t the offensive line’s problem. Cassel played with the same line and looked very comfortable most of the time because he got the ball out quicker and knew how to make a secondary read.

    • Adam Goodfellow

      Always under pressure? Ponder would make one read and get happy feet. He would drop his eyes as soon as he started scrambling, and clearly wasn’t confident enough in his defensive reads to get the ball out quickly. Ponder made this line look bad for half of the year, and yet despite that, they still had the stats to convince PFF that they could be tops in the league in 2014 (Per their Secret Superstar article on Fusco).

    • Daxquartermain

      Defenses blitzed at will on most passing downs. The Vikings have an evolving passing game. Cassel had some success making defenses pay with quick releases. Ponder is hopeless. The Oline is very good. Get Teddy in there.

  • Jordan MacGeever

    Harrison Smith as a good starter seems like a big stretch to me

    • Chris from the Cape

      I know him by his highlights, rather than a lot of footage, but I know he’s made big plays since he’s come into the league. As a Pats fan I don’t see McCourty as worthy of carrying a younger Ed Reed’s shoulder pads to practice, yet by PFF criteria you’ve cited, would be elite.

      • Jordan MacGeever

        Smith is an okay player but he is not an above average safety. He didn’t play much last year coz of injuries but when he did he wasn’t very good. He was pretty good in 2012 but you can’t get measured by what you did in 2012 especially when it wasn’t like he was special.

        • Chris from the Cape

          I was making the opposite point with Grimes, if durability didn’t matter, than Gronkowski would be a top 3 player in the league.I didn’t realize Smith only played 8 games, as the Vikes were so irrelevant so early (though it was funny to check in and see Cassell show the world he’s bad, but not PONDER bad).

          • Jordan MacGeever

            that’s my point. Durability definitely should matter if it didn’t Grimes would be elite coz he’d have 3 elite years in a row! Especially when your not very good and hurt that’s a bad season! Smith belongs in the average starter group. Simply coz similar standard players like Delmas and others were ranked average.

          • Chris from the Cape

            Then your point is fair if Delmas is in the yellow, too.

          • Jordan MacGeever

            yes he was. Which makes Smith’s ranking at little too high for my taste.

          • tim

            He’s only was injured this year.. which definitely impacted his play. 2012 he was rated as the 6th best safety in coverage, I really suspect him to bounce back. I wouldn’t downgrade him because of one injury (he suffered no injuries in college).

  • Jordan MacGeever

    that’s my only critique with this rest is pretty solid

  • Jordan MacGeever

    I guess it really depends what the cut off point between “high quality” – good and “average starter” to good. Because I’ve seen a big difference in quality in some good starters

  • Chris from the Cape

    As a Pats fan, I’ve never heard of Rhett Ellison, and seeing that he’s started 13 games in his career and had 12 receptions makes me curious about his above average starter grade-

    • Jordan MacGeever

      another strange one. I mean if your the 2nd TE you have to be at least an option in the passing game or not sure how you can be a green!

      • Chris from the Cape

        12 career receptions for an above average H-Back: the last H-Back for the Patriots (I won’t say the unholy name) had 6 or 7 in his first NFL game.

        • Tim

          He’s one of the best run blockers on the team, in some games he actually run-blocked better than Felton. Really similar to how Jim Kleinsasser was used when he was here.

          https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/05/30/secret-superstar-rhett-ellison/

        • Viking Fan

          Rhett Ellison is a blocking specialist that has played both FB and 2nd TE in certain packages for the Vikings. He would rarely start a game. He’s pretty good at what he does, which is block. It will be interesting to see how his role evolves with Turner now running the offense.

          • Wyzel

            Comparing Ellison to Hernandez is like comparing 3-4 and 4-3 ends, different jobs same named position DE. Matt Spaeth is a similar type player, he’s there to be essentially an extra tackle or full back. There are very few elite catching TE’s, and most can’t block(JG), so saying a player shouldn’t be considered good because he doesn’t fit the Patriot mold for a H-Back, doesnt hold much water.

          • Chris from the Cape

            Ellison is listed on NFL.com as a fullback, which makes sense.
            A blocking specialist is not an H-back, and therefore I raised the question on a thread of a player I fully admitted knowing little about..

          • wyzel

            H back can be used solely for blocking, he plays on the line too much to be true fb either.

      • Chris from the Cape

        Completely off topic, but I got such a laugh I had to share w/ someone here:
        I went over to the Boston Herald website into the sports section and the lead article is on ‘this controversial PFF site’ which was giving such an unfair grade to Tom Brady.

      • KevinWI

        Rhett Ellison is an H-Back for the Vikings, replacing Jimmy Kleinsasser at that position when he retired after 13 years with the Vikings His job is to block…and on occasion swing out for a pass or two. He’s good at what he does.

    • Kevin Drew

      Vikings fans know Rhett Ellison. He’s more of a blocking TE than a receiver. He’s responsible for several long runs by Peterson, and some Vikings blog somewhere in the world has stats saying that Peterson’s production is actually higher with Ellison on the field, compared to Rudolph, who is our receiving TE. He’s one of those guys who doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but contributes a lot.

    • kody

      rhett the machine ellison to us vikings fans

  • Chris

    A lot to get excited about if you’re a Vikings fan. Some pretty good skill position players and a lot of big play potential (Peterson, Patterson) to go along with a pretty good OL. Good run blocking for Peterson, good pass blocking leads to a better passing game. If Bridgewater can step in and at least be average, they should be much improved.

    The defense also figures to improve. As a Bengals fan, I’ve seen what Zimmer has done with our unit the last few years. He’s gotten the most out of a ‘decent’ secondary. Munnerlyn is a great corner, and the same [can] go for Harrison at safety. Zimmer should elicit improvement from Rhodes, and the secondary won’t be the disastrous weakness it was a year ago.

    As far as the LBs go, Zimmer’s defense has excelled in the past with a usually pretty talent-depleted LB corps. He loves the 2-down Sam role, which Barr should excel in. As far as the other two go, Brinkley and Greenway both suck, but so does Maualuga and somehow Zimmer coached a top 5 defense even with that liability over the middle.

    The strength of his defenses have started along the DL, relying on a strong rotation. There are some good pieces here (Robison and Griffen are decent at the ends, Floyd should improve, and Joseph is a great DT), but there isn’t much in the way of depth.

  • Henry Dorgan

    Diehard Vikings fan here, I agree with a lot of these ratings, except for Josh Robinson. He is not a below average starter, he is a POOR starter. He is atrocious as a DB, and him and Chris Cook were abominable last year. I agree with the Chad Greenway rating, he is not as good as he once was, unfortunately. I don’t get how they have the receivers lined up; Jarius Wright is a slot receiver, does that mean they’re saying Jennings is a slot? I also think that Yankey will beat out Charlie Johnson for LG in camp, but they obviously can’t predict that

    I was waiting for this depth chart to come out for the longest time, and now that it’s here, I can finally read up on the Vikes. Bravo, PFF!

  • Guest

    Finishing ninth in the NFL in tackles qualifies you as a “Poor Starter”? That’s a joke.

    • jtruff

      Using tackles as a useful metric for player performance is a much funnier joke.

  • don trask

    Those are generous grades the Viking’s secondary got. After squandering five 4th Qtr leads last season, almost all of them thru the air, you would think their grades would be lower.

    • Calvin Wasdyke

      They were all to high efficient passing teams.

  • Calvin Wasdyke

    Wow I did not expect Greenway to be that low…

  • Doc-man

    Well, at least they noticed Cole’s coverage skills. Funny, they should have spotted that based on his showing in the pre-season his rookie year. His skill there was obvious the first time he took the field!

  • Josh Havlik

    it’s going to be a tough year on Defense. New scheme, below average talent and a few rookie starters.