Well, Well, Well. The Vikings Probably Need One More CB.
The everlasting joke about Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer insinuates that he solely cares about cornerbacks. The comedy exists for good reason — the Vikings have drafted four cornerbacks with 2nd Round or higher draft capital since Zimmer took over the organization. Those men are Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes, and Jeff Gladney.
In the same timeframe, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions have taken four cornerbacks combined in the 2nd Round or higher, so there is some merit to the Zimmer stereotype (although, the Green Bay Packers have taken five cornerbacks since 2014 — and nobody cares).
As of mid-May, it seems like Minnesota will likely need to find one more corner for depth. Mike Hughes was unceremoniously traded to the Kansas City Chiefs this week, capping a disappointing tenure in the North Star State. Hughes was a 1st-Round pick in 2018, but his young career was instantly derailed by chronic injuries.
Then, Jeff Gladney’s legal woes in Texas have encountered quagmire. Very little news has trickled out about his alleged assault, creating an awkward limbo for Vikings management and fans. Even if Gladney is cleared of wrongdoing, he could still face discpline from the NFL — probably between a four and eight-game suspension.
Zimmer acknowledged the Gladney mess on Saturday:
In the same press conference, he also gave hints that general manager Rick Spielman might find at least one more CB for the 2021 season. Zimmer said: “You can laugh at me but you can never have enough corners,” when talking about Hughes’ exodus to Missouri.
Right now, these are the Vikings CBs:
- Cameron Dantzler
- Jeff Gladney (maybe)
- Patrick Peterson
- Mackensie Alexander
- Kris Boyd
- Harrison Hand
- Camryn Bynum (rookie)
- Dylan Mabin
While that does not appear to be thin, should Gladney miss time — the team has a house-of-cards scenario on its hands. That is — an injury to Dantzler or Peterson would transform the depth to razor-thinness. And Zimmer never wants to experience that again as his CB depth in 2020 was abysmal. Uncharacteristically, the Vikings gaffed their way to the league’s fourth-worst defense via points allowed in the pandemic season.
In a bit of irony, not many Vikings loyalists wanted Spielman to select a cornerback early on in the 2021 NFL Draft. Zimmer emphasizes cornerback play so much that yet another CB early on would have generated massive eye-rolls. But here were are — two weeks after the draft — needing a cornerback. Life comes at you fast — or so the saying goes.
The aforementioned list of cornerbacks is an outwardly impressive group. The dependability of Alexander really seals the deal to stabilize the depth chart. He returned to the team on a cheap one-year deal after leaving for the Cincinnati Bengals in the spring of 2020. Dantzler, Gladney, Peterson, and Alexander can all be reasonably trusted to start football games. Yet, suspend Gladney, slap an injury onto Peterson or Dantzler — and boom — the depth is then quite skimpy.
Following the Hughes trade and the inking of deals from the 2021 draft class, the Vikings will have about $15 million in available cap space on June 1st. This is welcomed news as the team normally squeezes pennies at this time of year.
Expect Spielman to explore these CB names:
- Artie Burns
- Bashaud Breeland
- Darqueze Dennard
- Jonathan Joseph
- Dre Kirkpatrick
- Steven Nelson
- Josh Norman
- Brian Poole
- Nickell Robey-Coleman
- Richard Sherman