Is Mekhi Blackmon Ready to Emerge?

Breakout Player
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During the 2022 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings attempted to supplement their cornerback room by taking Andrew Booth Jr. with a second-round pick. That has been somewhat of a slow burn, but Mekhi Blackmon showed up as a rookie after being drafted in 2023, and it’s exciting to think about what could be next.

Is Mekhi Blackmon Ready to Emerge?

Following a successful rookie campaign, Vikings third-round pick from the 2023 NFL Draft, Mekhi Blackmon, earned All-Rookie Team honors from Pro Football Focus. For a defense that needed options to emerge at the position, it was nice to see Blackmon step up in year one. Byron Murphy was really the only veteran in the room, and Brian Flores was going to ask more from his youth.

Blackmon Ready
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While Andrew Booth Jr. has struggled to gain footing or stay on the field, Blackmon immediately made the most of his opportunities. About his year, PFF said, “Blackmon finished third among rookie cornerbacks in overall and PFF coverage grade at 71.7. He is also the only rookie to play 400 snaps and not miss a tackle. That reliability has been a key asset in Minnesota’s rebuilt secondary.”

“Blackmon also proved to be a ballhawk, leading his team with eight pass breakups despite playing just the seventh-most coverage snaps,” PFF‘s Dalton Wasserman added.

Could Lose Brian Flores
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.

Playing in 15 games this season for Minnesota and drawing three starts, Blackmon saw the field plenty. He was in action for nearly 50% of the total defensive plays during 2023, and he did take a couple of turns on special teams. Blackmon recorded eight passes defended while picking up both a fumble recovery and his first career interception. Making a difference on the stat sheet, he also contributed 43 tackles, three of which were for a loss.

After Akayleb Evans struggled to establish a consistent level of play, it stands to reason that Blackmon could come into the 2024 season as a starter. Having him immediately contribute at that level out of college is a big boost for Minnesota, and it puts less of a focus on that area of the defense.

2 Rookies Balling
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Since the days of Xavier Rhodes at his best, the Vikings have done little to develop at the cornerback position. Trae Waynes never truly reached the peak of his expectations, and veterans like Murphy or Patrick Peterson have been brought in as free agents to supplement the room. If Blackmon can continue his year one trajectory, seeing how he can contribute a year from now and beyond may be limitless.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.