Cameron Dantzler Makes Top-10 Corner List

Cameron Dantzler
Dec 20, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler (27) celebrates his interception during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are hoping that Cameron Dantzler reaches his potential in 2022. The third-year corner had a reasonably strong rookie season before experiencing some issues as a sophomore. Despite a lot of the criticisms, Dantzler actually finds himself with some impressive numbers from the 2021 season.

NFL.com has been publishing a series of articles that rely on Next Gen Stats. One of the pieces considers corners who offer the best coverage. There are some guidelines for who can be included:

In order to qualify, players needed a minimum of 300 coverage snaps, 40 targets as the nearest defender and a catch rate allowed below expectation (meaning they’re consistently breaking up passes that were likely to be completions). Also, qualifiers needed a negative targeted expected points added (a metric used to quantify how much an individual player impacts an opponents’ scoring potential and the most important metric used in this exercise), a tight-window percentage of at least 20 (15 for linebackers, due to the nature of their position as second-level run defenders and coverage defenders) and a maximum passer rating allowed of 80.

Surprisingly enough, Cameron Dantzler comes in at 7th:

Seeing Dantzler here might come as a surprise, but the metrics for him were too good to overlook. He posted a targeted EPA of -18.2 (10th among DBs). Dantzler excelled at limiting yards gained by opposing pass catchers, allowing just 4.9 yards per target in coverage, one of the lowest rates in the NFL. He also tied for the fourth-fewest yards after catch per reception allowed at 2.3. A tight-window percentage of 20.6 just barely nudged him into qualifying for the list, but it allowed for folks like me to realize Dantzler was better in coverage than most realized.

Last year, Dantzler finished as the 17th-best corner on PFF. His 90.9 run defense grade is first among corners. The fact that he also provides tight coverage suggests that Dantzler has the capacity to be a CB1 for Minnesota in 2022. He played 599 snaps out wide and only 32 in the slot, so he doesn’t offer much along the inside.

One of the issues is that he can struggle with injuries. Those concerns are valid, though his advanced numbers on PFR are impressive. He allowed 54.1% of passes in his coverage to be completed. QBs only had a 74.7 rating when targeting him, and receivers averaged 8.7 yards per catch on him. Folks, those are strong numbers. If his health cooperates, might he climb into the next level of NFL corners?

Dantzler will combine with Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, and Andrew Booth Jr. as the top Vikings corners. It’s possible that the team adds someone before the season, but this group is mostly set. The former third-rounder will thus get a shot to show that he can be this team’s top corner. A combination of strong tackling, tight coverage, and better health would give us reason to believe he can have a great 2022.


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