Vikings Fetch Wretched Defensive Ranking for 2023

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.

The Minnesota Vikings said goodbye to 2022 defensive coordinator Ed Donatell four days after the team lost in the Wildcard Round of the postseason six months ago.

Soon after, Minnesota settled on former Miami Dolphins and Bill Belichick disciple Brian Flores for the 2023 defensive bossman gig, immediately injecting enthusiasm into the team’s fanbase.

Vikings Fetch Wretched Defensive Ranking for 2023

Vikings faithful wanted Flores for the defensive coordinator job the moment they knew he was gettable, and the club’s brass didn’t disappoint.

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

But not everyone is convinced Flores can transform the defense on the fly. For example, Ryan McCrystal of SHARP Football Analysis tabulated defensive secondary rankings this week, and the Vikings lived in the NFL’s lower bowl — a disadvantageous spot at No. 28.

Put bluntly, his analysis suggests Minnesota has the league’s fifth-worst secondary with the regular season about six weeks away.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) and New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore (8) in action during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Only the Los Angeles Rams (No. 32), Indianapolis Colts (No. 31), Las Vegas Raiders (No. 30), and Arizona Cardinals (No. 29) ranked lower than the Vikings. McCrystal explained the ranking system, “With a combination of numbers, film, and projections, the rankings were averaged for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers/tight ends, offensive line, defensive front seven, defensive secondary, and head coach.”

And per that system, Minnesota apparently owns one of the business’ worst secondaries. McCrysyal wrote about the Vikings, “Patrick Peterson left via free agency, and the Vikings added Byron Murphy from Arizona. This unit could hinge on the development of Andrew Booth, last year’s second-round pick who played just six games in his rookie season before undergoing knee surgery. Minnesota also added cornerback Mekhi Blackmon in the third round of this year’s draft.”

Vikings Fetch Wretched
Rookie minicamp highlights from Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon’s first practice as a Viking after being selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Blackmon is a cornerback from USC drafted by Minnesota in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Minnesota has a giant question mark at cornerback — and actually a lot of depth at safety. SHARP’s analysis must be ultra-fearful of the cornerbacks because Harrison Smith, Lewis Cine, Josh Metellus, and Camryn Bynum at safety doesn’t signal a major deficiency.

At corner, the Vikings employ newcomer free agent Byron Murphy, and he’s a shoo-in to start. After the ex-Cardinal, however, it’s a crapshoot to determine the second and third CBs. It could be any combination of Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, Joejuan Williams, or rookie Mekhi Blackmon.

Minnesota Vikings CB Joejuan Williams addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Thursday, July 27, 2023. Williams joined the Vikings via free agency in April 2023 and was a 2nd-Round draft pick by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots four years ago.

Williams made early headlines this week at training camp, experiencing run with the first-teamers. Because of his resume — he was a 2nd-Round draft pick back in 2019 — Williams could indeed win the CB2 job next to Murphy while Flores and the Vikings await breakouts from Booth, Evans, or Blackmon.

The Vikings ranked 31st in passing yards allowed last year and 27th per defensive DVOA. And if SHARP is correct, the secondary won’t improve much just because of a new coordinator.

Minnesota travels to Seattle in 12 days for the first preseason bout of the summer.

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