The Vikings ‘Biggest Question’ at Mandatory Minicamp

PurplePTSD: O'Connell the CotY Favorite, Left Side of OL Solidified, Kwesi's Steadfastness
Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Free agency, the 2023 NFL Draft, and organized team activities (OTAs) are complete, and the Minnesota Vikings will set sail on mandatory minicamp Tuesday.

The club won a division title in 2022 and hopes to replicate the feat in 2023, perhaps grabbing the NFC North in back-to-back years for the first time since 2008-2009.

The Vikings ‘Biggest Question’ at Mandatory Minicamp

VikingsTerritory previewed the four large items to monitor at mandatory minicamp on Monday, but Bleacher Report has a different angle — the cornerbacks.

at Mandatory
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.

Indeed, Bleacher Report‘s Alex Ballentine formulated the ‘biggest questions’ facing all 32 teams heading into minicamp, and for Minnesota, Ballentine asked a very straightforward, “Who’s starting at cornerback?”

These are the cornerbacks associated with the Vikings roster as of June 12th:

  • CB1: Byron Murphy
  • CB2: Andrew Booth
  • CB3: Akayleb Evans
  • CB4: Joejuan Williams
  • CB5: Mekhi Blackmon
  • CB6: Tay Gowan
  • CB7: Kalon Barnes
  • CB8: John Reid
  • CB9: C.J. Coldon
  • CB10: NaJee Thompson
  • CB11: Jaylin Williams
Vikings Unveil Footage
Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy (7) runs with the football after his interception in the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota could also utilize rookie Jay Ward at cornerback, as the man is known for versatility in the secondary, especially in the slot. We shall see. But aside from Ward — and the other 10 combatants — only one player is a guaranteed starter, Byron Murphy.

Murphy joined the Vikings early in free agency and proved to be the only bonafide CB addition outside of rookies Mehki Blackmon and Ward, plus maybe-make-the-team veterans, Joejuan Williams and John Reid.

And that’s precisely why Ballentine has the starting cornerbacks as question marks one day before minicamp. He explained, “The unit was a major reason the Vikings ranked 28th in scoring defense so it isn’t shocking that the team moved on from all of them. But different doesn’t always mean better and there’s a lot of young and unproven options vying for playing time.”

The Vikings actually ranked 30th in points allowed, not 28th.

“Second-year corners Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth Jr. will be counted on after dealing with injuries in their rookie season. Third-round draft pick Mekhi Blackmon will be a factor too,” Ballentine continued.

as April Arrives
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) after a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

Outwardly, it seems Booth and Evans are on deck to fill starting jobs because general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah probably would’ve explored signing more free-agent CBs like Cameron Sutton or Marcus Peters otherwise.

Ballentine concluded, “Brian Flores will take over as the defensive coordinator. His aggressive blitz-heavy front will ostensibly make life easier for cornerbacks, but they are still going to have to hold up their end of the bargain.”

The aforementioned Williams experienced some reps with the first team at OTAs, plopping him into ‘dark horse’ status to supplant Booth or Evans.

On the whole, the Vikings cornerback situation is of the utmost mystery — and importance — this summer. Expect Murphy to start for sure, with Booth and Evans as frontrunners to accompany him.

Minnesota ranked 31st in passing yards allowed last season.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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