Vikings

Andrew Booth Jr. Can Win the Starting Job Despite Facing An Uphill Battle

Photo Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

From making a sliding interception in coverage against Justin Jefferson to getting feisty with Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Minnesota Vikings’ rookie Andrew Booth Jr. has had nothing short of an electric start to training camp. Limited through all of OTAs and minicamp, Booth is finally healthy and “looked fluid and bursty throughout all of his first NFL training camp practice,” according to Will Ragatz.

Minnesota’s secondary was a crucial weakness last season. Adding Booth into the mix will not only supply depth but also provide competition. Considering how Booth has performed during the first couple of practices, he might even become a starter sooner rather than later.

The biggest obstacle standing in the way is Cameron Dantzler. However, Dantzler likely in a precarious position, considering that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell weren’t around when the Vikings drafted him and may be less invested in him.

That’s not to say that Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell dislike Dantzler, but they may have drafted Booth as a potential replacement.

Looking at Booth’s tape, it’s easy to see why Adofo-Mensah traded up for him. He is a human highlight reel, an athletic freak, and he wears his heart on his sleeve every play. On top of that, he plays the game downhill, like Lewis Cine and Brian Asamoah.

Furthermore, he has all the traits to become a lockdown corner in the NFL. He has length, excellent footwork, and hands like a wide receiver.

If you don’t believe me, take it from NFL draft expert Dane Brugler. He described Booth as a player who “has fluid athleticism, finds the football, and disrupts the catch point, three important ingredients to playing the position at a high level. He has NFL starting traits (if he stays healthy) and projects best in a man-heavy scheme.”

Despite all the positive upside with Booth, the starting job is currently Dantzler’s to lose. That’s only right, considering Dantzler is still a solid young corner who the previous regime didn’t give a fair shot to succeed.

Not to mention, he posted a 70.3 passer rating allowed in coverage. That’s third among second-year corners, behind only the likes of A.J. Terrell and Trevon Diggs, according to PFF.

Dantzler will only be 24 by the time the season starts, and he will undoubtedly be looking to have a breakout season of his own. He says he is “very excited to compete” against Booth this offseason.

No matter which way you spin it, it is clear that both players recognize there is a battle for a starting position. The competition is palpable and should continue until the end of camp.

However, I think Booth will win the job through his performances during the preseason games.

Patrick Peterson, an 11-year vet, will likely sit out all three preseason games like he did last year. That will be the perfect opportunity for both Booth and Dantzler to put their abilities on full display in front of the entire Vikings’ coaching staff.

If Booth can perform in those games like he did during his days at Clemson, he will have no issue taking the job off Dantzler’s hands. Booth simply has a unique mix of length, athleticism, and competitiveness that sets him apart.

Let’s not forget that Booth’s talent was worthy of a first-round selection. However, he had a medical history that likely concerned teams, causing him to fall to the Vikings.

Regardless, this will be an uphill battle for Booth, but a battle he can win. The new staff didn’t draft Dantzler. If Booth keeps playing at a high level throughout the offseason, it will be hard to keep him off the field.

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Photo Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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