The dynamic duo of Dan Wiederer and Mark Craig discussed an issue in this video that I had marked down on my list for this week: Whether the Minnesota Vikings will be able to find a roster spot for receiver project Joe Webb. Even after Webb caught two passes in Friday night's preseason opener, resolution on that question is far from clear.
I won't claim that the Vikings have the NFL's deepest group of receivers, but if we were stacking them in order at the moment, it would be difficult to place Webb higher than No. 6 on a team that might only keep five.
Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright are all locks for the roster. It's difficult to imagine the Vikings releasing Jerome Simpson after they gave him a $500,000 signing bonus and another $250,000 workout bonus in the offseason. That's four receivers, and on Friday night at least, third-year player Stephen Burton outperformed Webb.
Burton turned an intermediate catch into a 56-yard play while also providing a key block on fullback Zach Line's 61-yard touchdown reception. Burton was a raw receiver when the Vikings drafted him in 2011, but he has a two-year lead over Webb on the development scale.
Webb has three more weeks of practice and preseason games to state his case, but if there are no dramatic changes between now and the final cutdown day, the Vikings will have to determine whether his capacity for development merits a roster re-balancing that would in essence take a spot away from another position.
The chart below provides a detailed report of how the Vikings used their receivers Friday night.