Vikings Cornerback Is Ready to Take the Leap

Dec 20, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler (27) celebrates his interception during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest concern for the Vikings this offseason was the cornerback position. At the beginning of free agency, things were looking very bleak. The only starting quality cornerback on the roster was Cam Dantzler, and there are still questions about him. However, Dantzler is ready to take the leap and prove that he is a starting cornerback.

Cam Dantzler posted overnight this photo on Twitter:

He will be going back to his college number. Now, this might not seem like much to the layperson, but a change of scenery could be the change that Cam Dantzler needs to prove himself. Why can this simple change play such a significant role for him?

For a cornerback, the most important mental trait to have is confidence. If you don’t have confidence as a cornerback, you will play scared. We saw a bit of a scared tendency from Dantzler in 2021. This was most evident in that final play against the Detroit Lions.

Oct 3, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler (27) breaks up a pass to Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Just how important is confidence for a cornerback? Ahmad’ Sauce’ Gardner tweeted that he is the best player in the draft. Some people might not like it, but NFL players love this attitude:

Now that Dantzler is switching back to his college number, he just might get his confidence back. It doesn’t hurt that Mike Zimmer is gone either. The whispers in 2021 were that Dantzler was in Zimmer’s dog house for some reason. However, those days are gone, and now Dantzler is ready to resume as ‘The Needle.’

Why Dantzler Will Excel in This Defense

When Cam Dantzler was at Mississippi State, his primary role was to be a press-man cornerback. This type of defense is where he seemingly excelled. In 2019, he posted a PFF grade of 83.4, which is excellent considering he was up against SEC competition. In fact, one of his best games was playing press-man against Ja’Marr Chase:

However, when he came to the Minnesota Vikings, he was not asked to play press-man. Instead, he played more zone-match defense. Even though his technique needed to change, his rookie campaign gave us a promise of the future. His 2020 stats:

  • PFF grade 70.9
  • 40 tackles
  • 43 receptions on 67 targets
  • 2 interceptions

In 2021, he improved slightly, even with being in Zimmer’s dog house.

  • PFF grade 73.8
  • 45 tackles
  • 33 receptions on 63 targets
  • 1 interception

Now, he is ready to take that next leap to be a genuinely great starter. The reason for this is that he will likely play a lot more press-man coverage with Ed Donatell. This is perfect for Dantzler’s skill set.

Hopefully, with a new coaching staff and jersey number change, he can bring back that Mississippi State mentality. If he can bring the confidence he had in college back to his play today, the Vikings just might be looking at their number 1 cornerback for years to come.

This would bring fans supreme joy as we have watched our defense get torched the last two years.

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