Vikings Corner Responds to the Praise, Expresses Confidence on Social Media

Oct 31, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Tay Gowan (36) reacts after a play during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Tay Gowan hasn’t been shy about expressing his confidence on Twitter.

The Vikings corner thinks he has what it takes to thrive in the NFL. And, to be sure, Vikings fans should be cheering for Gowan to achieve his goal. After all, we’re talking about a corner position that presents a ton of uncertainty after the departure of Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, Chandon Sullivan, Cameron Dantzler, and Kris Boyd.

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

Though he’s only 25, Tay Gowan is among the more experienced corners in Minnesota. Indeed, the position is led by Byron Murphy and Joejuan Williams since each are former 2nd-round selections who are entering their 5th seasons in the NFL. Gowan shares their age but has only been in the league since 2021. Philadelphia picked him in the 6th round, 223rd overall.

As 2023 nears, Gowan has a fresh shot at asserting himself as he seeks to become a regular in an NFL lineup.

Tay Gowan:
The Vikings Corner Looking to Overcome the Doubt

Luke Braun — the mastermind behind the Locked on Vikings podcast — sent out a tweet declaring, “Tay Gowan has obliterated someone on every rep on ST drills.” The corner took notice, retweeting it with several island emojis and then one with an arrow hitting a bullseye.

Jul 29, 2022; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Tay Gowan (36) at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, decoding emojis can be a perilous task, but I think we can figure this one out. The island is a common image associated with corners (think Revis Island). Leaving a corner on an island means he’s battling a WR without any help from another defender. Meanwhile, the receiver is supposed to be stranded on the island, ship crashed on the beach without any hope of rescue for the remainder of the game.

Scrolling down a bit on Gowan’s Twitter feed brings along a video featuring a massive back tattoo with the words “GOWAN ISLAND.” The tweet even features the island emoji alongside the words “I stand on it.” Again, all confidence from the 3rd-year corner.

Coming into the NFL, Gowan faced doubts about his ability to hang with speedier receivers. On the NFL’s website, Lance Zierlein had this to say: “Outside cornerback who will struggle to stay connected to routes against speed or quality route runners. He does a nice job of crowding underneath routes and has the length and ball instincts to make receivers really work for it on contested catches. Gowan needs to get stronger, but has good size and length to work with. His area of effectiveness will be limited at the next level. He might need to be paired with defenses utilizing more Cover 2 or Cover 3 schemes.”

Nov 21, 2021; East Rutherford, N.J., USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores during a game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

New DC Brian Flores isn’t known for his zone coverage. Now, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to see him turn to Cover 2, 3, 4, and 6 at various points. What it does mean, though, is that Flores’ corners need to be able to go toe-to-toe with a receiver in man coverage. Yes, being able to run Cover 0 and 1 effectively means being able to lean on corners playing man.

Or, put differently, leaning on corners who are comfortable being on an island.

Given the contract he signed, Byron Murphy is a guarantee to make the team. Andrew Booth Jr. (2nd round), Mekhi Blackmon (3rd round), and Akayleb Evans (4th round) aren’t going anywhere. How many more openings does the team have for CBs? Likely just a couple, especially since there’s so much talent at safety.

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Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

Gowan thus needs to show that he’s a better option than Joejuan Williams, Kalon Barnes, and several others.

Standing at 6’2″ and weighing 185, Gowan has good size. The feistiness that Zierlein highlights in the scouting report is important since Flores is going to gravitate toward corners who don’t back down from competing against their man.

Last season, Gowan was active for 3 games, picking up 15 snaps on special teams along the way. His size and speed (he ran a 4.44) make him appear to be a natural fit as a gunner on punt, so keep an eye on how Matt Daniels deploys his personnel on special teams.

Earlier in the offseason, Josh Frey predicted that Tay Gowan would find a spot on the 53-man roster in a piece for PurplePTSD. Elsewhere, Frey argues that the corner has “earned his chance.” Frey thinks that Gowan’s resilience — a necessary trait to succeed as a corner — will make the difference: “There will certainly be challengers along the way, but Gowan has an edge about him, and if he wasn’t up for a challenge, the former two-star recruit wouldn’t be in this position to begin with. I believe Gowan will be on the Vikings 53-man roster when Week 1 rolls around.”

Gowan gets the chance to further convince the Vikings to keep him around on Thursday, August 10th when the Vikings travel to Seattle for their initial preseason game.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.