6 Outside CB Draft Prospects for the Vikings

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Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) questions a call during Saturday's NCAA Division I football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on October 30, 2021. © Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

We are in the thick of the draft season, and I’ve already written about 7 QB draft prospects for the Vikings. Now it’s time to look at one of the most talked about areas of the team this offseason — cornerback.

The cornerback room is currently sparsely populated, especially considering definite starting caliber players. It’s Byron Murphy and the second-year players, Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans. The Vikings must add to the roster at the position while viable FA options remain. At least one cornerback should be added to the mix from the draft, so I’ve put together a list of six outside CB draft prospects for the Vikings.

6 Outside CB Draft Prospects for the Vikings

I’m ruling out the top two cornerbacks in this draft class, as I don’t see them being on the board at 23. Nor do I envision the Vikings trading up for one, which rules out Christian Gonzalez and Devon Witherspoon. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores likes his outside cornerbacks to play man coverage. So, I’m looking for that skill set as I go through six outside CB draft prospects for the Vikings in order of preference. In a separate article, I will look at cornerbacks who can play in the slot.

If They Stay at 23

1. Joey Porter Jr,

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If Kwesi Adofo-Mensah decides against trading back, there are two “first-round” cornerbacks the Vikings may be able to take at 23 — if they are still on the board. Joey Porter Jr is the first, although I would be slightly surprised if he makes it that far. The Penn State CB has the prototypical length and physicality to play press-man coverage on the outside. If he makes it down to 23, he would be a great fit in Minnesota. 

He combines height (6’2) with a filled-out frame (193 lbs) as well as long arms (34 inches) to give himself incredible reach and influence inside the contact window and at the line of scrimmage. He has good speed with a 40-yard dash time of 4.46 seconds and could be the closest the Vikings can get to a guy who would be ready to start in Year 1.

2. Deonte Banks

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The other option at 23 — if he makes it — is Deonte Banks. The Maryland CB has been a favorite pick for the Vikings in the mock drafts. However, his draft stock has risen after impressing at the combine. Banks now looks like a genuine first-round prospect, but he could be off the board before 23. If he isn’t, then it’s easy to see why he’s seen as a good fit for the Vikings defense. 

A physical press-man cornerback with plus-level size and length, measuring 6’0 and weighing 197 lbs. An impressive 4.35 40 time showcased he also has the speed. He has the potential to be a genuine CB1 but needs some development in his game. A coach like Flores can help make that happen.

Day 2 Trade Back Options

3. Cam Smith

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If the Vikings trade back, that brings another group of cornerbacks into play that isn’t on the table with the Vikings not owning a second-round pick. South Carolina CB Cam Smith may be the best option in this range — another physical man coverage cornerback who is a twitchy athlete with good speed, loose hips, and quick feet. 

He has excellent poise and ball skills in coverage. Smith has good height (6’1) but is a touch leaner (180 lbs) than the two players before him. However, that’s not egregiously light, and no reason to be “out” on the player. His 40-yard dash time of 4.43 seconds is good, but not great — another reason I see Smith as a high Day 2 guy who becomes a good option if the Vikings trade back.

4. Kelee Ringo

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Kelee Ringo has the ideal size, weight, and speed for a physical man coverage CB on the outside. The Georgia CB is 6’2, 207lbs, and ran a 4.36 seconds 40-yard dash. On paper, he sounds like just what Flores will be looking for to bolster his defense. Ringo has been compared to former first-round pick and first-team All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes. If he can have a similar impact to Rhodes, the Vikings will have done well, especially if it’s from just a second-round pick.

Ringo’s strengths are physicality and straight-line speed, making him a good matchup against the league’s bigger receivers — think DK Metcalf. He will find life more challenging against a route technician like Steffon Diggs, where Flores must create the right matchups if Ringo comes to Minnesota.

5. Tyrique Stevenson

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Miami CB Tyrique Stevenson has the build for a big physical man coverage cornerback at 6’0 and 198 lbs. He also has the necessary speed with a 4.45-second 40-yard dash. He’s a player who will need time to develop, so it isn’t an answer to be a starter on the outside from Week 1. Drafting him in the third round to add depth and competition in the secondary is a good option if the Vikings coaching staff has confidence in Booth and Evans.

Stevenson would bring an aggressive mentality to the Vikings secondary, something I believe is needed. Landing in Minnesota, under the guidance of Flores, would be a good fit for him and give him a great chance to progress to be a starting-caliber CB.

6. Emmanuel Forbes

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There is a noticeable question mark with Mississippi State CB Emmanual Forbes. He weighed in at the NFL combine at 166 lbs, which was even lighter than previously reported. At 6’1 and a 4.35-second 40-yard dash, the length and speed are there, but can he hold up with such a slight frame? That is the question teams are going to have to ask themselves.

Forbes has been compared to Cameron Dantzler, the Vikings 3rd round pick from 2020, who was released this offseason — both played their college football at Mississippi State. Forbes has shown the ability to make plays, with 14 interceptions over the last three seasons in the SEC. Making him an intriguing option that might be worth taking a gamble on. If the Vikings trade back and gain a second-round pick or extra third, Forbes becomes an option.