Rookie retention a theme of final roster

Michael Mauti (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

The Vikings made moves with almost two dozen players Saturday, but seven of the nine draft picks stuck around. We take a look at the final roster.

The Vikings made their final cut-down to the 53-man roster Saturday afternoon and the biggest question was answered when they chose to keep versatile Joe Webb and release wide receiver Stephen Burton.

When it came down to it, there may have been concerns with the health of the defensive line, where both Kevin Williams and Sharrif Floyd are recovering from injuries, and the questions at linebacker took precedence.

Seven rookie draft picks made the 53-man roster, which has been a trend with the Vikings in the Rick Spielman era. Since 2009, almost every draft pick has ended up making the final roster that year. In 2009, all five draftees made the team. In 2010, seven of eight survived the cuts. In 2011, nine of 10 rookies made the team. Last year, eight of nine draft choices made the final roster. This year, seven of nine made the team, with only seventh-round draft picks Travis Bond and Everett Dawkins being part of the final cuts.

Saturday was a bad day for the Class of 2011. After nine rookies made the team from that draft class, only four of them are among the current 53-man roster. Christian Ballard was placed on the "left squad" list, DeMarcus Love was placed on the suspended list after being ruled ineligible for the first four games of the season by the NFL for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy and Brandon Burton, Stephen Burton and D'Aundre Reed were released.

Here is the breakdown of the current 53-man roster:

Quarterbacks (3) – Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Running Backs (4) – Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Matt Asiata, Zach Line.

Wide Receivers (5) – Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, Joe Webb.

Tight Ends (3) – Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, Rhett Ellison.

Offensive Linemen (8) – Matt Kalil, Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, Brando Fusco, Phil Loadholt, Jeff Baca, Joe Berger, Troy Kropog.

Defensive Linemen (9) – Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Sharrif Floyd, Fred Evans, Chase Baker, George Johnson.

Linebackers (8) – Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Desmond Bishop, Marvin Mitchell, Audie Cole, Larry Dean, Gerald Hodges, Michael Mauti.

Cornerbacks (5) – Chris Cook, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, A.J. Jefferson, Marcus Sherels.

Safeties (5) – Harrison Smith, Jamarca Sanford, Mistral Raymond, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo.

Specialists (3) – Blair Walsh, Jeff Locke, Cullen Loeffler.

While there weren't many surprises among the cuts – cornerback Bobby Felder was placed on the waived-injured list after his ankle injury in Thursday's game so he can either be retained and placed on injured reserve or released with an injury settlement –it appears as though the Vikings will be good to go in preparation for their regular season opener a week from today at Detroit.

While the 53-man roster is currently in place, today will be a busy day as well for the Vikings. When players clear waivers, the Vikings can set their eight-man practice squad and could potentially claim a player off of waivers from another team. If the Vikings do claim a player who was cut Saturday, he will have to be placed on the 53-man roster, which would require one of the players who survived the cuts Saturday to be released.

In another interesting development for those who read between the lines, on the Vikings website where they listed their 53-man roster, it was clear that the players were listed by starting position. For example, the defensive linemen and offensive linemen listed were the starters from left to right – Kalil, Johnson, Sullivan, Fusco and Loadholt on offense and Robison, Williams, Guion and Allen on defense. When it came to linebacker, the Vikings listed the order starting with Greenway, Henderson and Bishop – giving the unstated impression that Bishop may have won the starting job.

Stay tuned later today for who made the practice squad.

NOTABLE SATURDAY CUTS

While the Vikings didn't have any "big names" on their cut lists, there were some well-known names that were released Saturday around the NFL. Tim Tebow was the biggest name on the list – only because of his rabid fan following. Former Cardinals first-round QB Matt Leinart may have hit the end of the line after being released by the QB-challenged Buffalo Bills. From the same QB draft class, Vince Young may have seen the end of his career when the Packers cut him loose. The Bears finally opted to rid themselves of offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb. Denver cut loose veteran center Ryan Lilja. Jacksonville was likely the last stand for CB Marcus Trufant. Kansas City ended the post-Tony Gonzalez "next man up" theory by cutting Tony Moeaki. The Giants cut former first overall draft pick David Carr. Oakland likely ended the career of DE Andre Carter. Pittsburgh cut running back Jonathan Dwyer, which seemed curious because the team is without rookie Le'Veon Bell – who suffered a foot injury earlier in August. San Diego was forced to admit it made a multi-million-dollar mistake on Robert Meachem, who was cut loose after doing little more than endorsing checks. Seattle may have been the last ride for QB Brady Quinn, who some thought the Vikings might take in the 2007 draft instead of Adrian Peterson. Antoine Winfield wasn't the only former Viking to get his walking papers Saturday. Safety Tyrell Johnson was cut loose by the Lions.

In a bit of irony, if you go to the NFL website and look at their cut tracker, Tyrone McKenzie was cut by both the Vikings and the New England Patriots.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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