The Minnesota Vikings 2014 mini camp came to a close today, and here are some predictions I probably will change post training camp:
Starting 4-3 Base Defense:
LDE - BRIAN ROBISON
DTs - LINVAL JOSEPH/SHARRIF FLOYD
RDE - EVERSON GRIFFEN
OLBs - CHAD GREENWAY/ANOTHONY BARR
MLB - JASPER BRINKLEY
SS - HARRISON SMITH
FS - ROBERT BLANTON
CBs - XAVIER RHODES/JOSH ROBINSON
NICKLE DEFENSE: CAPTAIN MUNNERLYN enters, Brinkley departs.
Reasoning: Jasper leads the MLB race by an inch. AUDIE COLE looked very spry today playing mostly OLB, and MIKE MAUTI looks much more explosive this year than last. GERALD HODGES is in the mix, too, but mostly as a back-up/ST guy. The MLB and FS jobs very much are up for grabs this preseason.
Josh looks good outside -- like he did most of his rookie year -- but Captain played outside last year in Carolina. Given we'll be in "nickel" at least 65 percent of the time Captain will play a ton, and ZIMMER used him at FS several times this camp.
Robison and Barr were used all over the place this camp. Robison "stood up" like a LB many times and rushed and dropped. Barr was used at LDE and OLB a fair amount. They will count on a speed package of Barr-Robison-Griffen-Greenway to wreak havoc from all angles. The defensive approach is the most aggressive I have seen in my 13 years working with this team.
Bears castoff COREY WOOTON is a perfect back-up for Everson in that he holds the point well and seems to be solid against the run. I, too, expect to see Griffen play some DT on "nickel" this season.
LT - MATT KALIL
LG - DAVID YANKEY
C - JOHN SULLIVAN
RG - BRANDON FUSCO
RT - PHIL LOADHOLT
TE - KYLE RUDOLPH
WRs - GREG JENNINGS, CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, JEROME SIMPSON
QB - MATT CASSEL
RB - ADRIAN PETERSON
Reasoning: While rookie TEDDY BRIDGEWATER did some wonderful things this camp Cassel still owns the job in my opinion. Into the offseason I had Matt as the absolute favorite to own the job game one, but that's not the case anymore. I truly believe Teddy has looked so poised and played so smartly he has a chance to win the money. I say it's 60-40 Cassel starts at St. Louis.
JARIUS WRIGHT will factor in at WR, and the final three TEs just might be Rudolph, RHETT ELLISON and undrafted guy A.C. LEONARD, who is a playmaker and if squared away off the field will help. He should have been drafted. Expect our base offense to be three-wide most of the time.
I select Yankey at the LG position because I think he'll win the job in TC. This spot, though, is a race between him, CHARLIE JOHNSON and JEFF BACA. It's my belief Yankey has the best upside and will be best in the run game. He's playing from behind, though, given he missed eight of 10 OTA.
Not sure FB JEROME FELTON makes the team. Nothing against the former Pro Bowler, it's just Ellison can play his spot, and OC NORV TURNER doesn't use the FB too much.
Rookie "Trick" JERICK MCKINNON will be in uniform every week and will make an impact. He catches it much better than I thought he would, and already looks to be one of the most versatile guys on the team.