Vikings Have a Top 10 ‘Preseason Roster Battle’

NFL Expert Who Nailed
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans react during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings preseason begins Thursday at 9:00 pm CST in Seattle, undertaking an exhibition fest against the Seattle Seahawks.

Minnesota has conducted over two weeks of training camp to prepare for the showdown, and most Vikings fans have a positive outlook regarding the dealings at camp.

Vikings Have a Top 10 ‘Preseason Roster Battle’

And inside that preseason tryst in the Emerald City, the Vikings will evidently showcase one of the NFL’s Top 10 preseason battles, according to Pro Football Network. And that’s the CB2 position.

Have a Top 10
Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Missouri defensive back Akayleb Evans (DB11) talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

PFN’s Dallas Robinson scoured the NFL for the league’s best roster competitions this summer, and the Vikings made the cut at cornerback. He explained, “No team overhauled their secondary as drastically as the Vikings did this offseason. Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, Cameron Dantzler, and Duke Shelley all played at least a third of Minnesota’s snaps in 2022, but none will return this year.”

Minnesota indeed said goodbye to almost all 2022 cornerbacks, sans Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth — probably because the group ranked 31st in 2022 per passing yards allowed. Change was required.

Could Move Down
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.

Robinson continued, “Free agent addition Byron Murphy is guaranteed a starting role. He’ll play on the outside and will move into the slot in nickel packages. Second-year corner Akayleb Evans also looks like a favorite to start on the outside. But that leaves one outside cornerback position up for grabs. Both Joejuan Williams and fourth-round rookie Mekhi Blackmon have both seen time with the starters throughout training camp.”

Murphy was the showstopper addition via free agency this offseason and is on tap to hold down the CB room while the youngsters — hopefully — emerge.

Vikings Can Claim
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Byron Murphy spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, a 2nd-Round draft pick. He was welcomed to the Vikings from free agency in March 2023.

“Andrew Booth Jr., the 42nd pick in the 2022 draft, could theoretically work his way into a starting role, but injuries have defined his NFL career. At this point, he’s far more likely to end up as a backup this season,” Robinson concluded about the CB2 battle.

Evans, a second-year defender from Missouri, is the frontrunner to win CB2, at least per the team’s first depth chart release earlier this week. The 24-year-old performed quite well as a rookie but succumbed to multiple concussions, and his season ended prematurely.

The aforementioned Williams, a free-agent addition from the New England Patriots in March, and Booth, a 2nd-Rounder from last year’s draft, will also vie for CB2 in three preseason games.

Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Joejuan Williams (33) at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Blackmon, this year’s rookie, appears to have the inside track at slot cornerback because if it’s not him — then who? The Vikings severed ties with Chandon Sullivan this offseason and didn’t really replace him with a slot corner from free agency.

Minnesota’s defense ranked 27th last year per DVOA.

Other Top 10 preseason battles defined by PFN included the Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB1 competition and the Chicago Bears RB1 spot, among others.

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).

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