Takeaways from the Minnesota Vikings Week One Depth Chart
Ahead of their week one matchup in Cincinnati, the Minnesota Vikings have released their first depth chart of the regular season. After a busy offseason for the Purple and Gold, this chart looks very different from 2020’s team. To see the full chart, here is the link to the article on the Vikings’ website. As for this article, we will be going through a few of the more intriguing developments from this list. Just a note before we get started, the Vikings have listed this depth chart as “unofficial” for now, so we may still see a couple changes.
The D.J. Wonnum Show
Going into this training camp, we all knew the Vikings were going to be set at three of the four starting spots along the defensive line. The one spot up for debate was, of course, the RDE position. Stephen Weatherly was brought in during free agency to compete for the spot alongside the developing youth of D.J. Wonnum, Hercules Mata’afa, Patrick Jones II, and others. We assumed for awhile that Weatherly would get the job, but as the preseason went along, it became less and less clear. The player gathering the most steam at Weatherly’s expense was D.J. Wonnum.
Now, the journey to the mountaintop is complete for Wonnum. He has been listed as the starting RDE against the Bengals, with Weatherly, Everson Griffen, and Patrick Jones II. This isn’t Wonnum’s first starting experience as he started two games during his rookie 2020 season. They came in weeks 16 and 17, and in those games Wonnum totaled five tackles and a QB hit.
Weatherly comes out of this as a winner too, all things considered. His preseason was not very good, and rumors about him potentially being cut floated around. However, his being listed as the first DE backup shows the Vikings still have faith in him going into the season. Now, he’s got to go prove them right.
Kris Boyd at CB4
The preseason got off to a hot start for Kris Boyd, showing his coverage chops against one of Denver’s brightest young stars, Jerry Jeudy. He quieted down a bit after game but he still showed enough consistent good play to earn himself the CB4 job over former rookie standout, Cam Dantzler.
We all know Dantzler spent a lot of time as the Vikings CB1 during 2020. While there were some ugly moments, I’d say Dantzler showed more good than bad considering the circumstances. Nearly the exact opposite occurred this preseason. Dantzler had far too many lapses in his coverage, and just seemed to be playing a step behind a lot of guys. It was bad enough that Harrison Hand is even listed above him, dropping the sophomore down to CB6.
However, things began turning around in that final game against the Chiefs. If Dantzler can find his way back to his rookie form, and Boyd can continue his progression, the Vikings have six quality cornerbacks on their team. You can’t say that about most NFL teams.
Dede Westbrook in the Cellar
When Dede Westbrook signed with the Vikings, it seemed that WR3 troubles would be fixed. Then, he proceeded to miss the entire preseason, and his listing on this depth chart doesn’t provide much confidence that he’ll do much in week one. Westbrook is currently listed as WR5 behind K.J. Osborne and Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Both players had very promising moments this preseason, and with a very limited sample size, this list comes as very little surprise.
Osborne was one of the more reliable targets this preseason. Following a shaky opener, Smith-Marsette made his presence felt as well. Once Westbrook is fully healthy and incorporated in the offense, I still expect him to take the WR3 spot. It’ll be great to see what the Vikings have in Osborne after a disappointing 2020 season.
Brandon Dillon Takes TE2
Again, this is probably due to the fact that Chris Herndon just arrived in Minnesota and hasn’t had much time to find a home in the Vikings offense. He is a talented player at the tight end position with potential to excel now that he’s out of New York. At some point this season, Herndon will take the TE2 spot, and possibly even TE1.
This week, that position still belongs third-year player, Brandon Dillon. Sitting behind Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith, and Tyler Conklin for his entire career, Dillon hasn’t gotten much of a chance to showcase his skills for the Minnesota Vikings. The 24-year-old had a lot to prove this preseason and checked most of the boxes. There was competent blocking mixed with some good route running and hands. Especially against a weak Cincinnati defense, he could have a solid weekend backing up Conklin.