Vikings Select Top CB in 2nd Round
The Vikings’ cornerback rooms in 2020 and 2021 were a disaster. Harrison Smith tried his best to help the group out, but miscommunications, botched assignments, and blown coverages were the norm.
Patrick Peterson returns after a solid campaign. He is not the annual Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson anymore, but the team can do a lot worse than the former LSU Tiger.
Cameron Dantzler was the top cornerback in each of the last two seasons per PFF but somehow was benched for Beshaud Breeland, who was graded as PFF’s worst cornerback in the whole league. PFF should not be the only parameter to evaluate players, although his grades reflected what everyone saw when he watched another defensive breakdown on Sundays.
Chandon Sullivan and Nate Hairston are probably in a competition for the slot cornerback position. Both signed one-year contracts, just like Peterson. A long-term solution had to be acquired in this draft.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah did not disappoint. He traded the 34th selection to division rival Green Bay and got two second-rounders. The Vikings won the trade on every existing chart.
The rookie general manager used picks 53, 77, and 192 to move up to the 42nd spot to draft the answer at the cornerback position.
Andrew Booth Jr.
The 42nd overall pick was born and raised in Georgia. The five-star recruit had a lot of offers from top schools in the nation, including Alabama and Georgia but ultimately chose to attend Clemson.
In defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ defense, he played only 68 snaps as a freshman before playing 333 snaps in his second year. In his last season on campus, Booth Jr. became a full-time starter and played 578 snaps.
His football instincts are off the charts. He sees plays happen before they happen. That’s the case, most notably, when he tackles a receiver or running back on a screen pass right after the catch. Throwing a screen in his direction is a highlight play waiting to happen. Jumping routes and making plays on the ball is another area where his instincts come to play. In addition to his instincts, he plays very aggressively. He plays hard and thinks fast — a great combination for any defender.
He added to his highlight tape with his interceptions. He had just five interceptions in college, but some are incredibly athletic plays.
The film of the cornerback doesn’t look like he possesses elite speed. However, his speed is above average and should not be an issue. He didn’t test at the combine and his pro day because of injuries.
His agility is excellent. Change of direction, quick feet, and high explosiveness are the physical tools needed to play in man coverage. He did almost exclusively play in zone coverage in Clemson, but when he was lined up in man coverage, he did a phenomenal job. The Vikings get a versatile player, as he can play in any scheme.
The Vikings got a first-round talent in the second round. The reasons for it are his injuries. He just had surgery on a core muscle. As a child, Booth was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disease, an inflammation in the area below the knee. That is something that goes away over time and happens especially to kids that go through growth spurts. However, in high school, he got tendinitis in his knee.
In 2020, he suffered a torn patellar tendon, which required surgery in the offseason. Booth played through the injury. In addition to the knee problems, he suffered multiple minor muscle injuries and a severe core-muscle injury that required surgery. Booth Jr. will be ready for training camp, per Ian Rapoport.
After the long list of injuries, the list of questions about his play on the field is a short one. He tackles extremely hard, sometimes too hard. That causes him to miss tackles more often than the acceptable amount. Per PFF, Booth had 11 missed tackles last season, a rate of 23.9%, which ranks him 326th in the nation. Teaching the proper tackling technique is an easy fix.
The previously mentioned lack of experience in man coverage is another knock on him, even if he showed that he’s really good at it.
Reactions to the Selection
The first two picks of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s career addressed the secondary, as he selected safety Lewis Cine with his first selection. The much-needed infusion of youth and talent to the secondary should result in much-improved play in the defensive backfield.
Chris Simms ranked Booth Jr. as his fourth-best cornerback in the draft, over LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr, the third player selected in the draft, while Cine ended up as his second-highest-rated safety in the draft class.
Andrew Booth is too talented not to be in play for a starting spot as an outside cornerback. Cameron Dantzler and even Patrick Peterson have to beat him out to keep the starting jobs before the second round of the draft started.
The eighth overall pick of the 2021 draft, Jaycee Horn, gave the Vikings fan base more reasons to be excited.
If Booth Jr. stays healthy, the future is bright for the talented cornerback, and he could be a steal in the second round.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who has a fable for numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Arguing about the Vikings on Twitter is one of his favorite things to do. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt