Minnesota Vikings Secondary Poised to Improve

Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) returns an interception for a 66 yard touchdown as safety Harrison Smith (22) follows off a pass by Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton (not pictured) during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings secondary has plummeted through the ranking the past few years. Still, as the eve of the 2022 season draws closer, they are poised to improve dramatically.

A Great Defense Gone Bad

The Viking defense had been kind of an old reliable friend for several years. They weren’t always flashy or showing off but you could count on them to arrive, do a darn good job, and help keep the offense in the game.

That’s why when the defense, particularly the secondary, began to flounder it was such a crushing blow to the success of the team. At the end of the 2019 season, the Vikings defense was ranked 3rd overall according to PFF. This was despite not having a high-ranking cornerback. At the end of the 2020 season, they had slipped all the way down to 23rd on PFF’s list. By the end of the 2021 season, they had really tanked, slipping all the way to 25th.

What Went Wrong

The 2021 secondary has been dissected quite a bit both during the season and since. There is plenty of blame to go around. Most of the players were inconsistent and underperforming. While there were a few bright spots – such as Harrison Smith’s continued leadership and Cam Bynum stepping up – the negative performances just kept coming.

What the 2022 Secondary Looks Like

There does appear to be a bit of hope that the 2022 Vikings secondary should be much improved. What some are calling a group of cobbled together vets and rookies is actually a carefully constructed combination that makes sense. Veterans Patrick Peterson and Smith will be joined by two rookies with a lot of promise – Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr. The projected starting roster for the secondary looks like this:

PositionStarterStarter BackupBackupExtra Depth
SafetyHarrison SmithLewis CineCam BynumJosh MetellusMyles Dorn, Mike Brown
CornerPatrick PetersonCameron Dantzler, Chandon Sullivan (slot)Andrew Booth Jr.Akayleb Evans, Nate Hairston (slot)Kris Boyd, Harrison Hand, Tye Smith, Parry Nickerson
Projected 2022 Secondary Depth Chart

Of course, you can always expect changes to happen during training camp and preseason but the projections do give fans a bit of reassurance. Strong veteran leadership and the young, energetic spark of rookies create excitement. It is a good balance, allowing the younger players to learn while gaining critical on-field experience.

It is also fair to acknowledge the age of Peterson – 31 – who is on a 1- year $4 million contract with the Vikings. Smith signed a huge $64 million contract in 2021, so the Vikings have continued faith in his abilities even though he’s 33.

It will be interesting to watch these rookies line up and assess their performance. In a best-case scenario, Cine will pair nicely with Smith; Peterson with Booth. Bring on the preseason competition and the improvement for the Vikings secondary!