What the Vikings Should Avoid Early in 2023 NFL Draft

Vikings to Hit Free Agent Market for Answers
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

The Minnesota Vikings have selected six cornerbacks in Rounds 1 and 2 of the last 10 NFL drafts.

That needs to stop.

What the Vikings Should Avoid Early in 2023 NFL Draft

Here’s the roll call:

  • Xavier Rhodes (2013, R1)
  • Trae Waynes (2015, R1)
  • Mackensie Alexander (2016, R2)
  • Mike Hughes (2018, R1)
  • Jeff Gladney (2020, R1)
  • Andrew Booth (2022, R2)

It’s certainly not bad to draft corners early in a draft, but by doing so in mass fashion, a team ignores other positions on the team. The Arizona Cardinals, for example, have drafted one CB in Rounds 1 and 2 of the last 10 drafts. The Miami Dolphins are at three.

Here’s why Minnesota need not narrowly focus on a cornerback in Round 1 (or Round 2 if they trade back and accumulate a 2nd-Rounder.

They’ve Done That

What the Vikings Should
November 28, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer watches warm-ups before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

With six corners chosen early in the last 10 drafts, Minnesota should have the deepest and most glorious cornerback stable in the country.

They do not.

Try something different. The NFL Draft isn’t working for this particular team in finding rookie corners, so splash into free agency for guaranteed, albeit more expensive, commodities. Stop wasting picks on a position that has caused heartburn in April for a decade.

When the Vikings invest Round 1 and Round 2 draft capital in the same position year after year, they’re inadvertently ignoring positions like EDGE and interior defensive line. Change it up. Don’t be the fools who keep missing on CBs as an annual tradition.

Young Depth Is There

Grim Injury News for Vikings CB
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.

Minnesota has Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, and Cameron Dantzler under contract for 2023. It may also re-sign Patrick Peterson and Duke Shelley. There’s no prime-age alpha CB in that pack, but the depth is assured. Build on it.

The 2023 NFL Draft is loaded with cornerbacks, so waiting until Round 3 or 4 for another one won’t be criminal. Too, Booth and Evans could show up at OTAs and Training Camp this summer and look marvelous. Booth, especially, was drafted to be precisely that — marvelous.

The Vikings need one guaranteed-good cornerback to feel confident about the 2023 CB room led by Brian Flores. The depth exists. Youth is there, too. Draft a CB in Round 1 if you must, but it might not be wholly necessary.

Use FA for 1 Stud

The 5 Most Tantalizing
Oct 23, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (35) leaves the field after the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

On March 15th, after general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah clears cap space, the Vikings can pursue one of these players as a CB1:

  • James Bradberry (Eagles)
  • Jamel Dean (Buccaneers)
  • Jonathan Jones (Patriots)
  • Byron Murphy (Cardinals)
  • Cameron Sutton (Steelers)

Go do it. Pursue a man with a track record of excellence. Lean on the young depth in Booth and Evans while maximizing Brian Flores’ defense with an expensive and shiny veteran. Don’t lean on Round 1 cornerback to work through rookie lumps, particularly because Flores will probably only be around for one year before accepting a head coaching gig in 2024.

Find a veteran corner with a documented knack for proficiency and allow Booth, Evans, and Dantzler to mature alongside that man. Signing Peterson or Shelley back wouldn’t hurt, either.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.