Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Positional Breakdown: Forecasting the Cornerback Room

It’s no secret the Vikings secondary struggled last season. In fact, ‘struggled’ might be considered mincing words, considering our defense ranked in the bottom 10 of the NFL in all major categories including total passing yards allowed, first downs surrendered, and plays of 20+ yards and touchdowns allowed. Whether due to personnel choices or injury, the passing defense (Cornerback room specifically) quickly became the ‘Achilles Heel’ or ‘Hamstring’ if you will (sorry, Patrick Peterson) of a Vikings team with unfulfilled winning potential.

Enough with drudging up past shortcomings, it’s time to focus our attention to the future. We’ve entered May. Time to turn our eyes away from the painful winter of under-achievement and re-focus on the potential new life that 2022 may bring.

Enter Kwesi, KOC and Ed Donatell. The big three came in to fine-tune a defensive roster looking to bounce back to the ferocious shutdown secondary we’ve missed ever-so-dearly. After a number of free agency moves and a draft filled with ups and downs (quite literally – Kwesi seems to have taken over wheelin’ n’ dealin’ right where ‘Trader Rick’ left off), let’s dive into where our CB room falls in terms of depth chart status and forecast their impact.

With front office changes, it’s difficult to fully understand new strategy and personnel evaluation, but assuming the roster breakdown falls in line with years prior, the Vikings typically keep six (6) corners rostered. Currently, there are 10 CBs under contract for the 2022 season including the likes of Andrew Booth Jr., Nate Hairston, Harrison Hand, Kris Boyd, Cameron Dantzler, Akayleb Evans, Parry Nickerson, Patrick Peterson, Tye Smith, & Chandon Sullivan. So where could those 10 fit in?

Starters: Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler

Rotational: Chandon Sullivan (likely starting slot corner), Andrew Booth Jr. (future starter)

Special Teams contributor: Kris Boyd, Akayleb Evans

Cut-candidate/Practice Squad potential: Nate Hairston, Harrison Hand, Parry Nickerson, Tye Smith


Patrick Peterson – He has made it known this offseason his desire to return to the purple and gold and his intention to finish what he started here. His return brings the pedigree of dependable starter, level-headed leadership and a vet presence in a room full of youth.

Cameron Dantzler – Entering his third year in the pros, Cam looks to finally take the next step in hopes of returning to the shutdown defender he was at Mississippi State. He’s long, has good closing speed and if he can fine tune technique, he could develop into a very good corner.


Chandon Sullivan – Another bad guy turned good guy, the former Packer is coming off his most productive year and has followed former Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine across state lines. He looks to contribute right away in the slot corner role. He exhibits good speed and should find a role on the field quickly.

Andrew Booth Jr – There’s plenty to love about Booth Jr. He’s got size, he can close, and the guy can hit. Booth Jr was viewed by many as a steal when the Vikings traded up to grab him. He was seen by some as a first round talent and among the better CBs in the draft. He figures to break into the starting rotation but will have to earn his keep in what will likely be limited snaps to start the season. He’s coming off a sports hernia surgery which shouldn’t provide major setbacks, but is something to keep an eye on.

Special Teams Contributor:

Kris Boyd – A long-term project with starting experience, Boyd has showed off in punt and kick return coverage and has situationally stepped in on defense. He has struggled in limited starts, but is a good depth piece (and boasts one of the more entertaining TikTok accounts on the team).

Akayleb Evans – Evans is a big corner with a solid upside. He’ll make a name for himself, on special teams and will provide depth to an unproven CB group. He has good speed and measurables but in a crowded CB room he may be more of a long-term project. Time will tell.

Cut-candidate/Practice Squad Potential: 

Nate Hairston, Harrison Hand, Parry Nickerson, Tye Smith

Assuming the number of corners sits firmly at 6, these are likely the odd-men out. A dark horse candidate to make the team could be Hairston given his connection to Donatell and experience starting.

Plenty could change between now and the start of the season. There’s still talent available on the Free Agent market. The Vikings could add a seasoned vet to their secondary at a discount, and there’s always possibility of a surprise cap casualty that hits the open market and shakes things up. 

As it stands, that’s where the new and hopefully-improved Cornerback room falls.


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