It’s Time to Get Pumped about One New Vikings Defender

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The Minnesota Vikings made many changes to their defense after a disastrous season on that side of the ball. Brian Flores replaced Ed Donatell as defensive coordinator after only one season, and the majority of the cornerback room changed. Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, Cameron Dantzler, and Duke Shelley departed from the purple team.

It’s Time to Get Pumped about One New Vikings Defender

Get Pumped about
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To replace them, the Vikings bank on 2022 draft picks Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth to make a step, and rookie Mekhi Blackmon was selected in the third round. In addition to that, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed one big-time free agent, Byron Murphy.

Murphy was one of the best cornerbacks on the market, and the Vikings desperately needed a good one to take over the CB1 duties from Peterson to provide some stability to an inexperienced CB room. The former Cardinal hasn’t been a great cornerback in the league, but a solid one with the potential to turn into a Pro Bowl-caliber player at only 25 years of age.

Who Is the Best Vikings Addition?
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The 2019 33rd overall pick played 56 games through four seasons in Arizona, grabbed five interceptions, and made 229 tackles. In addition to good pass coverage, Murphy provides position flexibility as he can play as a slot cornerback and is a decent run defender.

On Wednesday, the former CB of the Washington Huskies showed his pass-coverage talent in an outstanding rep during the joint practices with his previous team. And the good news is that we have the play from two different angles that show perfect technique.

While Murphy is not a big cornerback by any means, he has the strength to play physical coverage, and that’s what he showed on that rep. Usually, those one-on-one reps favor the receiver because there is no help from linebackers or safeties, but Murphy bullied Hollywood Brown — who is a decent receiver in his own right — and ran the route with him to make the play.

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Wide receiver Justin Jefferson was asked about which Vikings defensive back impressed him most, and he didn’t hesitate:

“Byron, of course. He said it at the beginning of us going against each other. He’s learning from me, and I’m learning from him. I’m going to get him better, and he’s going to get me better, every single day, just having that competitiveness in both of us to wanna make each other better. Of course, he wants to lock me down, of course, I want to make plays on him, and that’s what is going to get us better on Sundays. I’m always going to be that type of guy to push my teammates to do better and to be better, and getting the work with him is great.”

Murphy has been far and away the best cornerback in training camp, and he has been the only one who provided real competition for Jefferson, which is a good sign for the regular season when Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, A.J. Brown, and DeVonta Smith are the opponents in Weeks 1 and 2.

the Top 3 Training Camp
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Akayleb Evans is expected to win the CB2 spot on the outside, with Mekhi Blackmon handling the slot duties. The hope is that the young CB group receives help from Brian Flores’ aggressive play-calling and the number of blitzes he calls.

His job is to hide the deficiencies of the two young cornerbacks, and that is a lot easier when Murphy can hold his ground against top receivers in one-on-one situations. It is time to get excited because Murphy is the best CB the Vikings have had since Xavier Rhodes years ago.

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