5 Slot CB Draft Prospects for the Vikings

8 Players the
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

It seems almost certain that the Minnesota Vikings will draft at least one cornerback in this year’s draft.

The Vikings are very light at the position and must bolster the ranks. There are still options available in free agency that the Vikings can pursue. However, it seems likely that the draft will be used to find a cornerback or two. I previously looked at six outside CB draft prospects for the Vikings. In that instance, I looked at outside cornerbacks who could excel in man coverage. Now, let’s examine the slot with five slot CB draft prospects for the Vikings.

5 Slot CB Draft Prospects for the Vikings

Chandon Sullivan was the Vikings slot cornerback last season after signing as a free agent via division rivals Green Bay. Sullivan has not yet been brought back to Minnesota upon the expiry of his contract. However, he is still a free agent, so a reunion may happen. Should the Vikings instead decide to look to the draft to fill the position, there are several intriguing options. In order of my preference, here are five slot CB draft prospects for the Vikings.

The First Rounder

1. Brian Branch

Alabama Defender One
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

There is only one player who can fill this role, who is a first-round talent, and that is Brian Branch. The Alabama defensive back is listed as a safety but spent most of his college career playing in the slot. Described as a Swiss army knife for a defense, Brian Flores could take advantage of his skillset in various ways. However, playing as the nickelback most of the time will be his primary role if the Vikings draft him.

Branch is a violent tone-setter on defense, similar to Lewis Cine and Brian Asamoah. He has good size (6’0 and 190 lbs) and good speed (4.58s 40-time) and can match up against every type of receiving threat. Drafting the Alabama man to play with Cine and Asamoah would see an identity beginning to be forged for the Vikings defense. An identity that personally excites me, which is why Branch is one of my favorite draft prospects for the Vikings.

Day 2 Options

2. DJ Turner

Michigan Wolverines defensive back D.J. Turner (5) holds the trophy during the Big Ten football championship on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Michigan Wolverines defeated the Purdue Boilermakers, 43-22. Ncaa Football Big Ten Championship Football Game. © Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Michigan CB DJ Turner is an interesting prospect. He has man and zone coverage versatility and inside/outside versatility. Turner is an explosive athlete — running a 4.26 40-yard dash. The question mark is how much Flores values size for his outside cornerbacks, with Turner being a smaller CB at 5’11 and 178 lbs. He has excellent technique in coverage and is a fierce competitor.

The Vikings could see him as an early starter as a slot cornerback, with the added bonus of the potential of being able to play on the outside. Players with versatility will always be sought after, which makes Turner a top prospect should the Vikings trade into the second round.

3. Clark Phillips III

5 Slot CB
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Clark Phillips is a good football player who possesses the majority of the traits the Vikings will want from a man-coverage outside cornerback. The one thing the Utah CB doesn’t have is the prototypical size at just 5’9 and 184 lbs, and his speed (4.51s 40-time) is good but not great. He does have quick feet and fluid hips, giving him the athleticism and movement skills to mirror and match routes. 

He had increased playing time in the slot in his final season in college, and that could be where his future lies. The versatility to play on the outside, if needed, is a valuable asset — something that makes Phillips a good Day 2 option for the Vikings.

4. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is another cornerback with the versatility to play inside and outside. The TCU CB is small (5’8 and 178 lbs), so teams may view him as a slot corner only. Interestingly, nfl.com names his NFL comparison as Duke Shelley, and we know what happened when he got a chance to play on the outside with the Vikings last season. 

Hodges-Tomlinson has that same fiery competitive edge as Shelley and has the explosive athleticism and speed (4.41 40-time) to compete above his size. He’d be a good addition to the Vikings secondary if they can get him in the third round.

Day 3 Option

5. Kei’Trel Clark

Louisville’s Kei’Trel Clark© Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC. Clark05

The fifth and final option is Louisville CB Kei’Trel Clark. He is an experienced player who, at 22, has four seasons of regular college football under his belt. He transitioned from the outside to the slot in his final year, a role seen as more suitable in the NFL due to his limited size. He measured 5’10 and weighed 181 lbs at the combine while running a 4.42s 40-yard dash.

I had Clark penned as a good Day 3 option for the Vikings in the slot, but he is rising on some draft boards. The names above are better options on Day 2, but if he’s there on Day 3, he has the makings of a good depth piece.