MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday released their first depth chart ahead of hitting the road to open the 2021 regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals.
As always, depth charts are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. They do however, provide some insight into who won position battles during training camp, and who has come out of camp and the preseason healthy and ready to go.
Here are a few takeaways from the depth chart:
- The current starting offensive line is Rashod Hill (LT), Ezra Cleveland (LG), Garrett Bradbury (C), Oli Udoh (RG) and Brian O’Neill (RT). Hill will be making his first NFL start Sunday, which also means rookie Christian Darrisaw is not. The Vikings’ first round pick has had two offseason surgeries for a groin/core issue, and hasn’t practiced much in camp or played a snap in the preseason. The hope is he can start practicing this week and be ready to play soon.
- With Irv Smith Jr. out for the season, Tyler Conklin is the No. 1 tight end and Brandon Dillon is listed No. 2. He’s ahead of Chris Herndon, who the Vikings traded for last week. Herndon will get his chances to see the field, but needs to get acclimated to the playbook first.
- K.J. Osborn and Ihmir Smith-Marsette are currently listed ahead of Dede Westrook on the depth chart at wide receiver. That shouldn’t be a huge surprise, as Westbrook continues to work his way back from a torn ACL last season. Osborn made plays throughout camp and with Chad Beebe hurt, will get his chance to be the No. 3 receiver.
- All eyes this week are on the status of linebacker Anthony Barr, who has been in and out of practice since Aug. 5. He’s listed as a starter at linebacker, but we won’t get a better idea for his availability against the Bengals until practice on Wednesday. If Barr practices, that’s a good sign he’ll play. If he doesn’t, it’s hard to imagine Barr being ready for Week 1. After missing most of last season with a torn pec, that would be a blow to the Vikings’ defense.
- D.J. Wonnum has won the starting defensive end job opposite Danielle Hunter. Wonnum is listed as the starter, ahead of Stephen Weatherly. Everson Griffen will also provide depth.
- Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland are listed as the starting cornerbacks, with Mackensie Alexander and Kris Boyd next in line. Cam Dantzler, who was struggled in camp, is the fifth or sixth defensive back.
- The Vikings have solidified their specialists – Smith-Marsette is the kick returner, Osborn will return punts and Jordan Berry is the new punter after Britton Colquitt was waived last week.
We’ll glean a lot more what the Vikings will look like for Week 1 at the Bengals after practices Wednesday and Thursday at TCO Performance Center.