The Road to 53: CB Tay Gowan Has Earned His Chance

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

The Vikings roster is now full at 90 players, and with that, the offseason moves past the roster construction phase and into the evaluation period. As we get our first glimpses of the Vikings roster in action throughout the summer, it’s time to evaluate which players should be candidates to make the final 53-man roster during training camp. Today, we begin this process by discussing CB Tay Gowan.


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

Tay Gowan has been an underdog throughout his entire path to the NFL. He was a two-star recruit coming out of high school, and he began his collegiate career at Miami (OH). Despite opting for a smaller school, Gowan was still unable to earn much playing time, appearing in just one game during his freshman year of 2017, getting just six defensive snaps.

Following that season, he transferred to Butler Community College in Kansas to earn some more playing time. That season ended quite successfully as he intercepted six passes and was named an All-Jayhawk Conference member.

That season finally got him on the radar of big D-1 programs, and prior to the 2019 season, he transferred to UCF. During 2019, Gowan was one of the very best cornerbacks in all of college football.

Among cornerbacks with at least 400 snaps in coverage, he was one of just eight players to allow an opposing passer rating of below 55.0. Others on that list include Trevon Diggs, Jeff Okudah, and Derek Stingley Jr. As a result, Gowan was named a second-team All-AAC member.

However, before Gowan could build on that incredible 2019 season, COVID-19 decided to throw a monkey wrench into the 2020 season. The cornerback opted out of that 2020 campaign, much like many other collegiate players, and he entered the 2021 NFL Draft without a senior season being played.

With that 2019 season largely in the rearview mirror, Gowan fell all the way into the sixth round before the Arizona Cardinals snatched him with the 223rd overall pick. Before the 2021 season began, he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles where he would play just two games before being waived in August 2022 and picked up by the Vikings and signed to Minnesota’s practice squad.

Gowan would play three games in 2022 for the Vikings, appearing in 15 special teams snaps throughout the course of the year. So, what exactly should we expect to see from the 25-year-old CB in 2023?

How Gowan Can Make the Roster

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

Gowan has a couple things working in his favor heading into Vikings training camp. He has ideal length at the cornerback spot while his ball skills and great instincts have been apparent along every step of his NFL journey.

In a Vikings secondary that is very inexperienced, he will have the edge of this being the third training camp he’s been a part of while also spending nearly a full year in Minnesota, something that can’t be said of many of the competitors for roster spots.

If Gowan is going to make the final roster, he will need to show poise in the secondary that puts him above the rest of the competition.

Obstacles in the Way

Oct 31, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge (18) is unable to make a catch against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Tay Gowan (36) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

While Gowan had a spectacular 2019 season with UCF, it can’t be understated that competition in the AAC is not the same as, say, the SEC that helped Okudah and Stingley become third overall picks. It didn’t matter for Sauce Gardner, the fourth overall pick in 2022, but Gowan has a few limitations that Gardner didn’t have.

Largely, this boils down to athleticism. Despite having 4.49 40-yard dash speed (recorded at the UCF pro day), he can get lost against the shiftier receivers when covering routes. Additionally, he is a bit lanky at 6’2 and 185 pounds, potentially needing to put on a few pounds to truly compete for playing time.

He also doesn’t offer quite as much versatility as other defenders competing for roster spots, playing 751 of his 791 snaps in 2019 at the outside corner spot for UCF. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has loved his versatile defenders in building rosters over the past two offseasons, so perhaps this could be a detriment to Gowan.

The Prediction

Aug 13, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Tay Gowan (32) in position against Dallas Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci (7) during the second half of a preseason game at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With players like Booth and Evans likely to make the roster, who combined for just four starts during the 2022 season, along with the rookie Blackmon, the Vikings should prioritize experience with their final depth CB pieces.

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.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.