Long Cornerback Enters Vikings Rotation

Oregon cornerback Khyree Jackson hauls in a pass during Oregon Pro Day Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at the Moshofsky Center in Eugene, Ore. © Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings entered the draft without a long-term quarterback answer but filled that void in the first round by selecting J.J. McCarthy with the tenth overall pick. The Michigan signal-caller gained experience playing on the biggest stage, in the playoffs. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah later traded up to acquire Alabama’s pass-rusher Dallas Turner with the 17th pick.

Long Cornerback Enters Vikings Rotation

Long Cornerback Enters Vikings Rotation
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While most eyes have been on the quarterback position for months, the Vikings have tried to overhaul the defensive unit. In free agency, the franchise signed Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard to rush the passer, and Blake Cashman will supersede Jordan Hicks at linebacker. Shaquill Griffin, a former Pro Bowler, can provide some experience to the cornerback group.

The unit was shaky last season, with Byron Murphy handling the left side of the defense. On the right side, however, it was primarily Akayleb Evans, who had an up-and-down season, backed up by former second-rounder Andrew Booth and last year’s rookie Mekhi Blackmon.

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In the fourth round of the draft, Adofo-Mensah gifted defensive coordinator Brian Flores another option when he chose Oregon’s defender, Khyree Jackson.

The Athletic’s Alec Lewis tweeted: “Khyree Jackson is a long, athletic corner. Competitive. Feisty. Led Oregon in interceptions and passes defended while allowing only one touchdown in coverage. 6-foot-3. A Brian Flores type of guy.”

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Jackson had a strange college journey. He started attending Fort Scott Community College in 2019. He then committed to Alabama as the nation’s top JUCO recruit, where he stayed for two seasons and played a significant role. However, halfway through his second year, Jackson was suspended by head coach Nick Saban for unknown reasons before transferring to Oregon.

The defensive back had a phenomenal season in his lone year at Oregon, earning First-Team All-PAC-12 honors.

Alabama defensive back Khyree Jackson (6) on the sidelines after a timeout during a game between Tennessee and Alabama in Neyland Stadium on Oct. 15, 2022. Syndication The Knoxville News Sentinel

Bleacher Report’s Scouting Department ranked him as a second-round pick and the sixth-best cornerback in the draft, writing:

Jackson is an interesting prospect with a high ceiling. He still needs to shore up some things in the NFL, but he has the length and skill set that teams are looking for. Jackson has the potential to be an impact player in the NFL.

The defender offers some nice tools that could allow him to play a role early in his career. Entering a full cornerback room with the five aforementioned players, there will be an intriguing competition in training camp for the starting jobs and the roster spots.

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