Good News for Cameron Dantzler

Cameron Dantzler
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler (27) is shown during a timeout during an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Sometimes, what remains unsaid is as important as what’s said. The same can be true for actions. It’s the inaction that can tell us a fair bit in a lot of scenarios. One such scenario may be the Vikings’ decision not to address corner in free agency, leaving Cameron Dantzler as the lone starting option on the roster.

So far, Dantzler’s NFL career has been one of highs and lows. At times, Dantzler has been great. At other times, he has been awful.

It would be no exaggeration to say that his play on the Amon-Ra St. Brown touchdown was among the worst you’ll ever see. With no time on the clock and Detroit needing a touchdown to win the game, Dantzler ought to have been guarding the goal line like his life depended on it. Instead, he opens his hips almost immediately to get depth. It’s the kind of mental error that drove Mike Zimmer crazy, largely contributing to the sophomore’s inability to find consistent playing time in a defense that desperately needed young talent to emerge.

Every time I watch that clip, I grow increasingly befuddled. It’s a horrendous football play.

Alas, one play doesn’t make a person’s entire career. There have been plenty of other strong moments from his opening two seasons, and the inactivity from the Vikings’ leadership team suggests they believe Cameron Dantzler is part of the solution in the secondary.

Dantzler defenders will commonly point to his healthy PFF grades. Last season, he put together a 73.8 score through his 685 snaps. His 90.9 run defense score is actually first among NFL corners, and anyone who has watched him play knows that he is an excellent tackler. 599 of his snaps came along the outside and only 32 from the slot, so it seems likely that he’ll be lining up along the outside in 2022.

Don’t forget that he’s still only 23.

Ed Donatell has been pretty outspoken about his desire for corners who can play man-to-man. He also wants corners with good ball skills. Last year, Dantzler has 8 passes defended and an interception. He also forced a fumble.

Allowing him to use his length and physicality more will likely serve the young corner well. Plus, improving the pass rush will mean opposing QBs will need to hurry their throws on a more consistent basis. In other words, Dantzler may enjoy more opportunity to make plays on the ball.

By the time the season rolls around, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will have added several more corners. Some will come through free agency, others in the draft. Regardless, the message we ought to be getting is that Cameron Dantzler is in line for a starting spot.

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