1 Player the Vikings Should Pursue from a National Perspective

A Top CB Prospect Met
Nov 5, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Maryland Terrapins defensive back Deonte Banks (3) reacts following a play during the third quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

When the draft kicks off on April 27, the Minnesota Vikings are scheduled to be on the clock with the 23rd overall pick. They technically own the 24th overall selection, but the Dolphins were stripped of their first-round choice because of alleged tampering.

Minnesota enters the draft month with many holes on the roster, even after the first three weeks of free agency. After the departures of Adam Thielen and Dalvin Tomlinson, the Vikings have to find their replacements. Neither position has been addressed, but a different problem has plagued the roster for years, and the Vikings have the opportunity to fix it.

1 Player the Vikings Should Pursue from a National Perspective

1 Player the Vikings Should Pursue From a National Perspective
Dec 2, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) force a fumble by Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf (14) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The cornerback position has been a huge problem for years, and the Vikings, for some reason, can’t correct it. It used to be one of the biggest strengths in the prime years of Mike Zimmer’s defense. Xavier Rhodes was incredible and was paired with first-rounder Trae Waynes.

However, they both left in 2020, and the Vikings were stuck with a disastrous CB room, despite heavily investing in the position. The early draft picks Jeff Gladney, Mike Hughes, and Cameron Dantzler, and free agent additions Patrick Peterson and Beshaud Breeland were the latest efforts of the combination of Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman to repair the position group, but it didn’t work out.

What's the Vikings Biggest Strength and Weakness?
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) in the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports,

After the regime change, the Vikings continued to invest in the CB room, especially the draft selections of Andrew Booth in the second round and Akayleb Evans in the fourth were intended to be long-term solutions. While it would be foolish to write them off after just one season, they haven’t done much so far. Injuries slowed the rookies down.

The current roster includes five cornerbacks. Besides the duo of 2022 draft picks, the Vikings employ Kalon Barnes and Tay Gowan, both should be considered longshots to make big contributions to the 2023 Vikings, and Byron Murphy, an expensive free agent addition who is supposed to be the top cornerback in Brian Flores’ defense but the team still has more open spots.

Fox Sports Links
Nov 12, 2022; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Parker Washington (3) runs with the ball while trying to avoid a tackle from Maryland Terrapins defensive back Deonte Banks (3) during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Maryland 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports.

Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport suggested one player every contending NFL team should target to be in a position for a Super Bowl run, and the Vikings were linked to Deonte Banks, the cornerback from Maryland.

The Minnesota Vikings ranked 31st leaguewide against the pass last season, and they lost veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson in free agency. They added cornerback Byron Murphy to replace him, but that alone won’t be enough. That glaring need has made cornerback a popular target for the Vikings in mock drafts this spring.

Deonte Banks has been a popular projected target for the Vikings because of a combination of team needs and his talent. The latest to send him to Minnesota in a mock draft was Todd McShay, a draft expert from ESPN.

Banks was really impressive in Indianapolis and is getting a lot of buzz after running 4.35 in the 40, leaping 42 inches in the vert and flying 11-foot-4 in the broad jump. Those are all top-three numbers among corners. And while he had just one pick last season, he did break up 10 passes and limit opponents to 4.6 yards per attempt. Banks is an explosive player.

Todd McShay

The draft class is filled with many freak athletes at the cornerback spot, but Banks might be the best athlete of the group. If he can clean up some of his flaws, that automatically leads to elite potential. He has the talent to become a top cornerback in the league and will be a popular name leading up to the draft in Vikings circles.

With the current state of the roster, until the purple team adds another cover player in the next few weeks, cornerback is a good bet for the Vikings at 23.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt