2022 Vikings Starting Defender Has a New Home

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The Minnesota Vikings saw many of their players leave the organization in the 2023 offseason. Most famously, Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks were released for cap-saving purposes after a down year in 2022. Thielen will catch passes from the first-overall pick Bryce Young in Carolina, while Kendricks will be the new linebacker of the Chargers.

Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson joined the Browns after signing a ridiculous contract, tight end Irv Smith can catch passes from Joe Burrow in Cincinnati and Patrick Peterson signed in Pittsburgh and will play for former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

2022 Vikings Starting Defender Has a New Home

2022 Vikings Starting Defender Has a New Home
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Peterson will see a familiar face when training camp rolls around, as former Vikings slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan also agreed to a deal with the Steelers. The move didn’t generate any big news because it was announced during the NFL draft.

Sullivan handled the slot cornerback duties in Minnesota for one campaign after three seasons in Green Bay and one in Philadelphia. Sullivan appeared in all 17 regular season games and the lone postseason matchup. He officially started ten games but played in more than 50% of the snaps in all 18 games. Overall, he played on 945 defensive snaps, the fourth most only trailing Camryn Bynum, Patrick Peterson, and Kendricks.

Slot cornerback is an important position and it is only getting more meaningful. In the past, slot WRs were security blankets who catch six-yard passes all day, nowadays they are true playmakers and even the stars line up inside. Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams, and Cooper Kupp can be the opponents of a slot CB in consecutive weeks.

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Sullivan managed to record 60 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and he recovered 1 fumble in 2022. He’s now moving on to a team with a strong defense. He will compete with veteran Arthur Maulet and others for the nickel CB job.

Sullivan replaced Mackensie Alexander in Minnesota who was quietly a disaster after his return to the Vikings. The former Packer clearly upgraded the position but he is a replaceable player. Minnesota’s awful 2022 defense was very easy to attack inside, that might be the fault of the scheme, the linebackers, the safeties, or Sullivan but it was likely a team effort. Moving on from a struggling player isn’t the worst thing a team can do. PFF graded Sullivan as the 96th CB of 118 eligible players in 2022.

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Minnesota has not really replaced Sullivan. However, on Day 3 of the draft, GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah selected defensive back, Jay Ward, out of LSU. He can play safety, outside cornerback, and in the slot. Because of how the roster is currently constructed, he is the only logical candidate to be the slot CB in the upcoming season.

The Vikings CB group underwent a huge overhaul. The aforementioned Peterson and Sullivan left just like Duke Shelly, he will play for the Raiders. Minnesota also waived Cameron Dantzler, he was picked up by the Commanders.

Byron Murphy will be the top guy in the room, while the young players Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, and Mekhi Blackmon will battle for the remaining outside starting spot. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores is asked to rebuild and improve the defense, the latter part shouldn’t be hard.

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