The Vikings on Tuesday released their initial 53-man roster for the 2021 season.
In response to the announcement of players released, waived and retained, The Athletic's Arif Hasan analyzed the players who made the squad. Worth noting is that further roster moves could still be made.
Hasan broke down each position group, starting with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. He wrote the following of players behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen:
A few players gained steam this spring for their apparent improvement over last year, but K.J. Osborn made the most of it, taking it with him in camp and finding ways to get open deep and win contested catches. We haven't seen anything yet of Dede Westbrook, who has only recently started practicing in team drills, but his enthusiasm has been evident whenever he's been available.
Adding Dan Chisena to the roster because of his special-teams prowess is surprising, but it perhaps shouldn't have been, given his place on the roster last year.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.
Hasan called the addition of rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette "less surprising," as he's shown flashes in the punt and kick return game.
Hasan noted the Vikings trade for tight end Chris Herndon after news that Irv Smith, Jr., will undergo surgery for a meniscus injury. Herndon's acquisition is pending a physical exam, so he is not on the initial 53-man roster. Tyler Conklin also has been rehabbing an injury.
In the meantime, Brandon Dillon has made the roster. A better blocker than Zach Davidson, who was waived, Dillon still has a lot of development ahead of him to truly contribute as a two-way tight end, but he has the athleticism and natural receiving skills to be a nice complement. Davidson's likely move to the practice squad is a bit surprising, but he is well short of being able to contribute. It could be the case that Dillon might also end up on the practice squad long term when the Vikings are forced to make a move to add someone to the roster — like Herndon, a quarterback or someone they've released.
View photos of Vikings TE Chris Herndon who recently joined the team.
On offensive line, Hasan spotlighted the decision to keep tackle Blake Brandel on the initial 53.
Brandel was a practice squad player last year and has developed tremendously. Though he has athletic limitations, his awareness has helped him grow as a player, and the depth he provides will be critical as the Vikings wait for [Christian] Darrisaw to recover.
Click here to read Hasan's full roster analysis.
3 Vikings land on CBS Sports' 2021 'All-Preseason Team'
Heading into the 2021 NFL regular season, CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin provided a "roundup of the NFL's best talent," unrolling his All-Preseason Team. He wrote:
In the spirit of a new season, we're here to present the 2021 NFL All-Preseason Team, a 25-person lineup recognizing the best at every position, from quarterback to head coach.
Think of it like an All-Pro team, except with players (11 on offense, 11 on defense) and the head coach included because of both 1.) past performance and 2.) 2021 projection. In other words, if we were building an all-star team for this year, this is how it'd look.
The Vikings were represented by three players, which was the second-highest behind five Chiefs.
On offense, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson landed on Benjamin's list. He said the following of choosing Jefferson, who joined Davante Adams (Packers) and Tyreek Hills (Chiefs):
Over DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs? Yeah, why not? If you saw him play as a rookie, you saw the NFL's next big thing: a steady playmaker with the production to back up the swagger.
Cook was the lone running back selected.
Christian McCaffrey is a target machine and probably worthy of the spot. But Cook is the NFL's most pure, explosive runner when healthy.
And on defense, Eric Kendricks joined Colts linebacker Darius Leonard.
This guy is primed for maybe a career year playing amid a restocked [Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer defense.
Wilf Family Foundations announces $4 million grant for social justice issues
The Vikings are committed to making a difference in the community and tackling multiple social justice issues, and the support for those endeavors comes from the top.
Vikings Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf have been not only vocal in their support but also financially generous. In a recent article on eJewishPhilanthropy.com, Mark Wilf was interviewed by Helen Chernikoff about The Wilf Family Foundation's "latest grant announcement of $4 million to 27 organizations, such as Black Voters Matter and the Center on Policing at Rutgers University."
According to Chernikoff, the foundation is placing a renewed focus "on issues such as voting rights, entrepreneurship among People of Color and police reform."
"My parents and my aunt and uncle founded the Wilf Family Foundations in 1964, and we've always supported social justice causes," Wilf told Chernikoff. "These new focus areas are based on new realities. Given recent events, those are areas that are important to us, and so we've grown our traditional social justice outreach."
Chernikoff asked how Wilf has stayed informed on these issues, and he noted that there have been a "variety of inputs," including through the Vikings.
"We personally became exposed, of course, to the George Floyd murder and the events of last year," Wilf explained. "We developed conversations with some of our players and staff to get their feedback on what's going on, how they're reacting to it and how best to respond.
"Also, we interact with other foundations that have been in these spaces for a long time, like the [Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies] and others, just to kind of get some feedback, to learn how they approach this work and how they staff it," Wilf added.
Click here to read Wilf's interview in its entirety.