Vikings Fans Are Sleeping on One Player in Particular

Explained: Fallout from Vikings Win over New England
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When the Minnesota Vikings offseason began in January, many of the team’s fans labeled the cornerback position as one of need.

Vikings Fans Are Sleeping on One Player in Particular

The opinion was somewhat fair — Minnesota ranked 32nd in the NFL per completion percentage allowed in 2023. Improvement was and is needed no matter how one dices it.

Breakout Player
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However, one mini-rockstar lives on the Vikings’ roster that doesn’t get as much kudos as he deserves, and that’s second-year corner Mekhi Blackmon. Discovered in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft, Blackmon, for some reason, flies under fans’ radar when he should be perceived as a tremendous defensive building block, not unlike Ivan Pace Jr., a linebacker in the middle of the field.

Why? Well, simple — the numbers are there, and they’re irrefutable.

Blackmon was the NFL’s 32nd-best overall cornerback back in 2023, according to Pro Football Focus, a wonderful mark for a rookie and a decent grade for anybody. About 90 cornerbacks play football on any given Sunday, and Blackmon was near the NFL’s best one-third. Minnesota’s defense was notoriously punked on two occasions by tall wide receivers last year: once versus Courtland Sutton and the Denver Broncos, the other time by Tee Higgins and the Cincinnati Bengals (though Akayleb Evans was the one directly on the Bengals receiver).

2 Rookies Balling
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Blackmon took some heat for allowing those transactions to occur, but what rookie NFLer is perfect? Not many. Because of those [badly] memorable plays, Blackmon took a backseat this offseason, at least per fans’ excitement and long-term trajectory for the player.

Meanwhile, other statistics paint Blackmon’s first season positively if one doesn’t fancy PFF as a trustworthy grading arbiter. He fired up an 81.8 passer-rating-against, which essentially means that NFL quarterbacks turned into Kenny Pickett — yes, we’re using that as insult — when targeting the USC alumnus. For reference, Broncos all-world CB Patrick Surtain II tallied an 88.2 passer-rating-against.

Blackmon Ready
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On the whole, these are the Vikings’ current cornerbacks on tap for summer roster battles:

CB1: Byron Murphy
CB2: Akayleb Evans
CB3: Mekhi Blackmon
CB4: Shaquill Griffin
CB5: Andrew Booth
CB6: Khyree Jackson
CB7: NaJee Thompson
CB8: Jaylin Williams
CB9: Joejuan Williams
CB10: A.J. Green III
CB11: Dwight McGlothern

Blackmon is one of the safest players on the list per making the 53-man roster.

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.

And this is the guy who desperately wanted to be a Viking. The Trojan said about the 2023 draft process and his union with the Vikings one year ago, “I was waiting all night. I thought it was going to come earlier, but you guys traded back. I kind of anticipated I was probably going to come to you guys — just praying and wishing I would.”

The prayers worked.

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