Wednesday, November 22, 2017

antoine winfield

Chris Cook hasn’t exactly been Mr. Reliable in his first three NFL seasons.  Multiple injuries and multiple off-field troubles have kept him out of action all too often.  These problems are really the only reasons to consider this to possibly be Cook’s last season in Minnesota, because he has otherwise been a very solid contributor on Sundays, and even more is expected of him during his contract year in 2013.

Cook may not be able to control his medical status as the season wears on, but it sounds like he is trying to keep from letting another knucklehead incident off the field keep him from cashing in on a second contract, as he is distracting himself by continuing his studies at the University of Virginia.

“I just felt like it was something that would keep me grounded, just to keep me from doing too much partying — too much of stuff that I didn’t need to be doing,” Cook told 1500 ESPN. “It’s definitely helped me focus, kept me in one place, not traveling all over the place, having something to focus on definitely helped me out.”

Cook is probably wise to stay out of trouble this offseason if he wants his next contract to be with the Vikings, and that sounds like the case, as another incident would surely be enough reason to show him the door despite his talent.

“I’m looking forward to coming back if that’s in the cards, and I definitely would love to stay here,” he said of his future with the team. “It’s a contract year, but I’m not playing for a contract. I’m just playing for a good year and playing for this team.”

The VIkings created a large duo of cornerbacks when they drafted Xavier Rhodes to play across from Cook, and that is a good thing considering the receivers in the NFC North, but Cook joked that the rookie should let him do the heavy listing when the season rolls around.

“Just let me handle them,” is what Cook said he told Rhodes about Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall.

He went on to say that the duo will be asked to play more press coverage than we have seen from the Vikings secondary in the recent past.  He also says that the loss of Antoine Winfield will not cause the Vikings defensive backfield to struggle moving forward.

“I definitely know we’re going to play a lot more press coverage, because we have two big guys on the outside now,” Cook said. “Coach (Leslie) Frazier likes those type of guys on the outside. Everybody seems to like bigger guys on the outside now, and it’s because of the big receivers now.”

“We’ve got a lot of young, hungry guys. We put in a lot of extra time and we communicate very well and we spend a lot of time together bonding. … I don’t think we’ll be what people think we’ll be. I think we’ll be probably, most definitely a top secondary this year.”

That’s a pretty bold statement for a guy that has missed more games than he has played, especially with their fearless leader now in Seattle, but it isn’t too inconceivable that the Vikings secondary could be an improved unit this year.  The addition of Rhodes, and the possible improvement of young players like Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson, could indeed be a recipe for success in 2013.

At the very least, the confidence to press opposing receivers should create more opportunities for a very talented defensive line to torment quarterbacks all season long.

[Note:  Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment?  Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players.  Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]

I know for a fact that the Vikings defense will feel the impact of Antoine Winfield’s absence, but I am not so sure that the move was really a game changer in terms of the Vikings draft plans, as the need for more quality cornerbacks is something the Vikings have struggled with since, well… forever.

Still, it couldn’t hurt to try and find someone of the same mold as Winfield, and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor seems like a natural fit for Rick Spielman to target in an effort to ease the loss of his veteran tackling corner.

Taylor (5′ 11″ and 192 pounds) played in every game as a freshman and registered 24 tackles, two for a loss, and a pick.  Then, for no other reason than Boise’s depth chart, Taylor redshirted as a sophomore before becoming a full time starter in 2010 and his ability to be a complete corner began to shine through.  That season he had 35 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, two sacks, two defended passes, and three forced fumbles.

Taylor was only able to start the first nine games of 2011 because of a leg fracture but he still managed 27 tackles, two for a loss, two picks, and six defended passes.  He was able to return for the Las Vegas Bowl where he scored on a 100 yard interception return.

After getting healthy, Taylor was able to enjoy his best season as a senior, which included starting every game, 51 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, 2.5 sacks, nine defended passes, four interceptions and three forced fumbles.  His impressive senior season continued to Indianapolis where he was a Scouting Combine standout with a 4.39 forty time.

Despite not being the biggest corner in the world, Taylor plays every bit as physical as many corners that are three or four inches taller than him, and has a reputation for being a “fighter” at the position in regards to his style of play.  He has the technique and strength to press wideouts at the line of scrimmage and the recovery speed to mask any mistakes.  He shows all the fluidity you want to see in his backpedal and hip turn, and is capable of disrupting passes with a well timed high point.

Taylor isn’t as proficient of a tackler as Winfield is, but he is no slouch either.  He plays the run very well, which is important to the Vikings, and is well disciplined in run support assignments.

Taylor is not flawless.  He needs to show more discipline in coverage, he needs to improve his tackling technique, and the guy looks like Jamarca Sanford when trying to haul in an easy interception (that isn’t a good thing) but he makes up for a lot of his shortcomings by playing football in a fearless and competitive way.

When it comes down to it, despite not being one of the highest touted prospects in this class, I view Taylor as a top-25 prospect and wouldn’t be at all disappointed if he were one of the Vikings selections in the first round.  He shouldn’t be expected, if selected, to fully fill Winfield’s void but adding a guy like this would certainly be a good start.

ESPN.com reports that veteran Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

“It was a very tough decision for me because of the relationships that I have in Minnesota,” Winfield told Anderson. “I’ve been there nine years. I’ve had some really great coaches, teammates and fans there. I’m very grateful to the Vikings organization for my experience.

“I’m definitely excited about the opportunity to play in Seattle. They’re a great football team. Those guys did an excellent job last season. They’re young, athletic and energetic. I’m excited to play with Richard (Sherman), Brandon (Browner), Kam (Chancellor) and Earl (Thomas) because they’re some of the most talented players on defense in the NFL right now.”

Winfield was released last month suddenly by the Vikings and thus was an unrestricted free agent. The initial report is that the two parties agreed to a one-year deal. The details of the contract are not known at this time.

The Seahawks, who already boasted arguably the NFL’s best secondary, will likely utilize Antoine Winfield in nickel situations.

The loss of Antoine Winfield leaves the Vikings depth chart at cornerback with Chris Cook, Josh Robinson, A.J. Jefferson, Marcus Sherels and Brandon Burton. While middle linebacker likely still remains the number one priority for the Vikings less than two-weeks before the 2013 NFL Draft, cornerback is now definitely a very, very close second.

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According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, veteran cornerback and expert tackler Antoine Winfield is now deciding between the Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings.

Reports that surfaced earlier today suggested that he may be closer to signing with Seahawks than resigning with the Vikings. Those reports may have been premature as now it looks like Winfield is somewhere in the middle of the two.

Winfield was abruptly released early March – a move that caught the experienced cornerback, his teammates, Vikings personnel and fans all off guard.

The Seahawks (also  known as the Vikings of the West) look to reunite Winfield with ex-Vikings Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin.

Antoine Winfield is expected to make a decision soon.

Edit: Found a pretty interesting story about the last time Winfield was a free agent and stuck between two teams from John Holler over at vikingsupdate.com. Never heard this story before – fun read. (Here’s to hoping for a similar outcome!)

 

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