Vikings’ Top Roster Battle … May Not Be QB

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While the quarterback position will rightfully engulf everything relating to the Minnesota Vikings in the coming months, another roster battle is arguably more gripping.

Vikings’ Top Roster Battle … May Not Be QB

Especially if one believes quarterback Sam Darnold will win the QB1 job out of the gate over rookie J.J. McCarthy, at least in a stereotypical “bridge quarterback” capacity, the Vikings’ 2024 cornerbacks are truly up in the air.

roster battle
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Last year, heading into September, Minnesota kept five cornerbacks on the 53-man roster: Byron Murphy Jr., Akayleb Evans, Mekhi Blackmon, Andrew Booth, and special teams ace NaJee Thompson. This season, the house is more crowded, and that isn’t necessarily bad.

At the moment, these are Minnesota’s corners:

  • 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
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Jackson and McGlothern are rookies, Jackson from the draft and McGlothern from undrafted free agency, so they’re new to the mix. McGlothern will fight for a 53-man roster spot, while Jackson is close to a lock because of his 4th-Round draft stock.

If Vikings fans assume the total is once again five CBs on the active roster, at least one semi-big-name per Vikings’ football standards will be released. And that’s on top of determining which cornerbacks will actually start. That’s up in the air, too.

shaquill griffin
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Meanwhile, Minnesota adores plenty of its safeties. One might be tempted to think a Brian Flores defense, because of its preference for player versatility, could keep an “extra” cornerback over a safety. Yet, that may not be the case, as Minnesota’s safeties feel safe on the roster bubble.

In addition to pondering which five on the above-listed 11 CBs will get the nod, consider the defensive back room on the whole. Only about 11 of these players will make the squad in September:

  1. Harrison Smith
  2. Camryn Bynum
  3. Josh Metellus
  4. Byron Murphy
  5. Mekhi Blackmon
  6. Shaquill Griffin
  7. Andrew Booth
  8. Khyree Jackson
  9. NaJee Thompson
  10. Jay Ward
  11. Akayleb Evans
  12. Lewis Cine
  13. Theo Jackson
  14. Dwight McGlothern
  15. Jaylin Williams
  16. Joejuan Williams
  17. A.J. Green III

Those names aren’t ranked rigidly, but those after No. 11 could be on the chopping block.

No matter what, defensive coordinator Brian Flores has some meaty decisions afoot. His defense improved markedly upon taking the job in 2023, but the secondary crumbled at times. In fact, Minnesota ranked 32nd in the league — dead last — in completion percentage allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Nailing the correct DB personnel for September will be paramount.

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Overall, keep an obvious eye on Darnold v. McCarthy this summer, but there may be more mystery surrounding the ginormous CB battle.

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