The Minnesota Vikings appeared to have solved most of their problems in the secondary this offseason after signing two corners and a safety. But after Jeff Gladney’s arrest, they may take another corner in the draft, much to the dismay of many fans.
Brace yourselves, people. This could mean they will use pick 14 on a cornerback.
The Vikings currently have seven CBs on their roster outside of Gladney. That might seem like a lot, but they had 11 different CBs suit up for them last season. Knowing Mike Zimmer, he will draft a corner regardless of who is on the roster. The real question is, will he target the position on Day 1?
There are some great prospects at corner this year. Interestingly enough, three of the top CBs in the draft are sons of former Pro Bowlers.
Here is a glimpse of some of the corners available in Round 1 of the draft:
Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
Surtain is one of the most intriguing prospects at corner this year. He may be the most technically proficient player at the position in the whole draft class, and at 6’2″, 200 lbs, he has the size Zimmer wants.
His father, Patrick Surtain, was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 1998 draft and retired in 2008. He played seven seasons in Miami, earning First and Second Team All-Pro awards before finishing his career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
In most mock drafts, Surtain II does not make it to pick 14, but he gets close. Most draft experts have him going between pick eight and 12 to the Carolina Panthers, the Dallas Cowboys, or the Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings would have to trade up or test their luck and hope he drops, but if he’s there, I don’t think Zimmer could pass him up. He has the potential to be the next Xavier Rhodes with his physicality and talent.
Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
Thanks to his pro day, Horn is among the top corners available in the first round. He is the son of former wide receiver Joe Horn, who played from 1996 to 2007 and made four Pro Bowls with the New Orleans Saints.
Horn sat out last season. He is primarily a man-scheme corner, and while the Vikings run mostly zone, they will assign corners to a receiver if they can keep up — something they frequently did with Xavier Rhodes in his prime.
While he may not be the best fit, the talent is there, and he very well could be available at pick 14. Many mock drafters project him to be a shutdown corner eventually, given time to develop. Add in the fact that his father knows the NFL, and the Vikings may be more comfortable rolling the dice on a talented prospect regardless of fit.
The benefits of coming from a family with NFL experience will generally make a prospect more attractive to draftniks. That goes for all three corners, outside of the next prospect.
Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
Farley opted out last season but is still projected to go in the first round. He is the first and only player on this list whose father did not play in the NFL.
Farley was recruited as a wide receiver but ultimately wound up as a corner in 2018 after suffering a season-ending injury. Virginia Tech converted him to corner for his redshirt freshman season, and he earned first-team All-ACC honors his first season on defense, despite missing two games.
His inexperience at the position is occasionally exposed by opposing receivers in the open field, but his athleticism can bail him out of snags. He’s a good fit for a team looking for a developing shut-down corner but won’t be able to start right away, something that Zimmer may be looking for if the Vikings are investing their first-round pick on a CB.
If they are set on having a corner sit behind Patrick Peterson, this is a good pick if he falls to 14.
There are injury concerns, but if they plan on sitting him for a season, that shouldn’t be an issue — unless there’s something draft experts are missing in the vetting process.
Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
The third and final son of an established NFL player on this list is Asante Samuel Jr. His father, Asante Samuel, played for the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, and Atlanta Falcons from 2003-13. He won two Super Bowls with New England during their dynasty and earned two First-Team All-Pros and a Second-Team All-Pro.
Samuel Jr. is an ideal rookie for Zimmer. He’s a zone corner who could have the chance to start and rely on safety help over the top. He is also projected as a nickel corner, similar to Gladney, because of his size. Samuel Jr. will likely be taken in the first round, but some draft experts aren’t sold on him. If he fell late in the first or into the second, I think Zimmer would be quick to trade up or down to grab him and fill the void created by Gladney’s arrest.
Samuel Jr. could start right away and play both inside and outside if Zimmer decides their current group of corners isn’t good enough.
Will Zimmer draft a corner in the first round?
If we know anything about Zimmer, it’s that he doesn’t care what the media thinks. He’s going to do what he thinks is best for the team. He’s taken corners high before, and he’s liable to do it again.
I don’t think that Zimmer would take a corner with the 14th pick, though. It would likely be a trade maneuver in the draft to take one who falls. Don’t rule out the possibility of Rick Spielman working his magic to move back into the second round, either. But the sudden lack of depth and experience at CB following Gladney’s arrest does open up the possibility that the Vikings use their first-round pick on a cornerback. However, Zimmer knows what he has with Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, and Mackensie Alexander.
Zimmer should pick a corner on Day 2 or 3. He can have them sit and learn behind Peterson and hope that Mike Hughes manages to stay healthy. Furthermore, Harrison Smith and the newly signed Xavier Woods will be the safety valve in the secondary. If the corners don’t pan out, we could see a repeat of last season where the corners rely on help over the top.
Here we are again, folks, wondering if the Vikings will draft another corner in the first round. Some things never change.