Star Prospect on Vikings Draft Radar Crazy Confident about His Ability

The Vikings started the off-season in desperate need of new talent for their cornerback room. Signing the 2021 Viking Patrick Peterson to a new contract might have eliminated the word “desperate,” but the position is definitely still a position of need. The eight-time pro bowler is not only 32 years old but also clearly not an elite player or a long-term solution anymore.

The former Cardinal isn’t the only addition. Nate Hairston, who was with the Broncos in 2021, signed to potentially start in the slot. He knows the new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell from their time in Denver. Hairston’s competitor for the job opening in the nickel defense is former Packer Chandon Sullivan. 

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah takes a different approach than former GM Rick Spielman — signing multiple players on the position of need instead of signing just one. The advantage of the approach is an obvious one. Multiple players mean numerous chances to find a solution to the problem.

Feb 27, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman speaks to media during the 2019 NFL Combine at Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Spielman seemed to have just one plan, and if it failed, there was no plan B. Mackensie Alexander and Oli Udoh were two examples of that in the 2021 season. The hope is that one of the two players will be a solid starter. Adofo-Mensah tried the same on the vacant right guard spot with the signings of Austin Schlottmann, Chris Reed, and Jesse Davis.

Long story short, the Vikings still need a cornerback, and there are some good ones in the draft. Derek Stingley Jr. and Trent McDuffie are viewed as elite cornerback prospects, but the whole league is looking at a different player at the top of the position. The Cincinnati Bearcat Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner. 

The Best Player in the Draft?

In a recent tweet, Sauce did not hide his intention when he tweeted that he’s not just the best cornerback but the best player in the draft, regardless of position. At first, it sounds crazy, but he has the play to back it up. As a three-year starter, Gardner allowed a passer rating of just 31.8. Throwing the ball into the ground every throw gives the passer a rating of 39.6. Adding to that, Gardner didn’t allow a single touchdown in his three years in college. 

Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Ahmad Gardner (1) celebrates a sack of Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) in the second quarter during the American Athletic Conference championship football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. Houston Cougars At Cincinnati Bearcats Aac Championship Dec 4

It’s always hard to tell who the best player in the draft is, but certainly, he has a case. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah ranks him third in the recent update of his big board, only behind Michigan´s edge rusher Aiden Hutchinson and the NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu.

In most mock drafts, the star defender is selected before the Vikings are on the clock. The draft is always unpredictable. There’s always a chance that players fall in the draft. Adding to that, trading up should certainly be an option for the Vikings if they want to secure the talents of the elite prospect.