One Roster Position Gravely Concerns Vikings Fans

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Vikings fans during game against the Miami Dolphins. © BILL INGRAM / THE PALM BEACH PSOT / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings begin training camp on Sunday, with veteran players reporting two days later on July 25th.

Per oddsmakers, the club is expected to win about eight or nine games in 2023.

One Roster Position Gravely Concerns Vikings Fans

Why is that forecast so modest? After all, Minnesota fired up a 13-4 record a season ago and won the NFC North for the first time in five years. Well, folks don’t fully trust the defense — and cornerbacks in particular.

Roster Position Gravely
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Athletic conducted a robust series of polling this week, and among the questions to respondents asked, “Which position group concerns you most?”

Overwhelmingly, folks stated cornerback, a spot that won the majority of ‘votes.’

  • Cornerback (50.4%)
  • Defensive line (21.5%)
  • Edge rusher (10.6%)
  • Offensive line (7.9%)
  • Linebacker (7.4%)
  • Running back (1.1%)
  • Safety (0.9%)
  • Specialists (0.3%)
Move Ranked in
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The apprehension about the CB room is obvious — the group wasn’t overly productive last year, as the Vikings finished 2022 ranked 30th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed. As a solution, Minnesota fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and hired Brian Flores while saying goodbye to veteran CBs Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, Cameron Dantzler, Chandon Sullivan, and Kris Boyd.

The CB section of the roster evidently wasn’t a priority to retain, and Minnesota will instead lean on veteran free-agent newcomer Byron Murphy, 2022 rookies Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans, Joejuan Williams, and rookie Mekhi Blackmon.

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.

The Athletic’s Alec Lewis noted about the poll result, “Brace yourself for a conversation about the cornerback competition. It’s coming and it’s going to be relentless. Excuse Murphy from the conversation, and you have a fairly wide-open competition.”

The battles for CB2 and CB3 — after Murphy — will be among training camp’s most fascinating.

as April Arrives
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

“Can Evans stay healthy? Is Booth capable of defending the best pass catchers in the NFL? Is Blackmon ready to contribute? Will a surprise emerge from the group, like a Joejuan Williams? We’ll be monitoring this relentlessly over the next month and a half,” Lewis concluded.

If training camp and preseason don’t provide comfort for coaches and the Vikings front office at cornerback, veterans Marcus Peters, Eli Apple, and Anthony Brown, among others, are available on the free-agent wire.

The Vikings are also on tap to showcase a blitz-happy defense, which should take the pressure off young cornerbacks in the secondary if utilized correctly.

Minnesota surrendered the second-most passing yards in franchise history to opponents in 2022, only topped — in a bad way — by the 2013 Vikings.

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