Vikings FA Fits: Jamel Dean Ticks All The Boxes as a CB1

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, I spent a few moments discussing how the Minnesota Vikings can supercharge their defense for just $15 million against the cap in 2023. One of the proposed moves was to bring in Jamel Dean, who has spent his career in Tampa Bay helping Tom Brady continue his Super Bowl dreams.

The Buccaneers are now at a crossroads as an organization, and one wonders if Dean will be a priority for the NFC South team. If not, the Vikings may be supremely interested in adding him to their beleaguered secondary.

The Basic Details: Jamel Dean

  • 26 years old. 6’1″, 206 pounds.
  • 2019 third-round selection.
  • 15 starts in 2022 (15 games played).
  • 57 tackles, 2 INTs, 8 PDs, and 1 TFL.
  • 77.9 PFF grade, 10th among corners.

The Talk Around Town

Over on PFF, Brad Spielberger puts Dean in at 5th overall among the Top 100 FAs:

Dean takes some risks attempting to jump routes that at times can lead to explosive receptions over the top, but his size, athleticism and physicality at the line of scrimmage enable him to disrupt opposing wide receivers’ releases and will have a lot of teams interested. He doesn’t have great ball skills — though he did snag two interceptions on the year — and can be a bit stiff in the hips, but we’re nitpicking here with a guy who can match up well with a lot of the top big-bodied wide receivers across the NFL. 

Pete Prisco of CBS sees things a bit differently, putting Dean down at the 12th spot:

He has had some injury issues, but he’s a good cover corner who can play man coverage. And he’s only 26. There will be a market for him.

Oct 27, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles speaks to cornerback Jamel Dean (35) during a time out against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Over at ESPN, there is the belief that the Buccaneers corner is the 9th-best free agent:

Dean has the length and top-end speed to disrupt throwing windows in zone coverage or match down the field against vertical concepts. He fits best as an outside one-third defender in a zone scheme, where he can use his backfield vision to break on the ball. He had double-digit pass breakups in each of his first three seasons, and he finished this season with a pair of interceptions, 45 tackles and eight more breakups. Dean will have multiple options on the market.

Right here on PurplePTSD, Jamel Dean comes in at 2nd overall in the Vikings-specific free agency list. As the title suggests, he ticks basically every box, with the lone concerns being health and price.

The Fit in Minnesota

Minnesota needs a true CB1. Finding success without one will be very difficult, especially since Brian Flores gets so much joy from sending blitzes.

Dean, who is still only 26, could very plausibly fill the role for years to come. Since entering the league in 2019, Dean has mostly thrived. As a rookie, he had 2 INTs and 17 PDs even though he only got the chance to start 5 games.

More concerningly, Dean has been limited in every season he has played in, failing to get to the maximum amount of games across all 4 seasons in the NFL. His lowest game total is 13, so it’s not like he has missed entire seasons. Nevertheless, we can be certain that interested teams will be wondering about his health.

Sep 25, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Romeo Doubs (87) scores a touchdown as Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III (24) and cornerback Jamel Dean (35) defend during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

So much of the appeal for Dean rests in his size/speed combination, precisely the attributes coaches are looking to see in a corner. He ran a 4.30 forty leading into the draft, a blazingly-fast time for any player.

Over his career, Jamel Dean has never allowed QBs to complete more than 61.4% of passes into his coverage. Last season, he was down at 55.4% and the year prior was 48.5%. Given the aggressive nature of the Tampa defense, Dean’s ability to hold up in coverage bodes well for his capacity to help the Vikings. Flores, like Todd Bowles in Tampa, will also be sending a ton of pressure, so Dean seems like a logical fit in some ways.

More discouraging components of his stats are that he allowed an average of 13 yards per reception in 2022 and surrendered 4 TDs. Flores – alongside the rest of the Vikings’ leadership – will need to understand how and why these things happened. The desire is for a CB1 to keep QBs to a similarly modest completion percentage while not being as susceptible to long plays, especially if they’re going for touchdowns.

At present, the Vikings are facing a ton of uncertainty at corner. Patrick Peterson and Duke Shelley are barrelling toward free agency, meaning Minnesota’s CB1 and CB2 could very well be playing elsewhere. Even if one (or both) returns, though, there is merit in adding more talent to the corner spot.

Jamel Dean has proven to be an excellent player over his rookie deal. He has made $5.4 million in his career, so it’s safe to assume the young corner will be looking for a hefty raise.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

The FA Fits series is neither predictive nor prescriptive. The articles don’t predict who Minnesota will sign and nor do they prescribe who Minnesota should sign. Rather, they’re merely an exploration of the fit between upcoming free agents and Minnesota’s roster. So far, we have considered LB David Long, EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, WR Mecole Hardman, CB Cameron Sutton, RG Isaac Seumalo, & CB James Bradberry.