A priority for the Vikings as they prepared for the 2012 season was to improve the pass defense. With a 9-spot jump in TDs allowed, a 7-spot jump in opponent passer rating and a 3-spot jump in passing yards allowed, the Vikings got the ball rolling to that end.
But the work isn’t done. The Vikings are determined to register an even greater improvement from 2012 to 2013, and a higher level of competition within the CB position group will be a big part of the effort. Tuesday provided us our first look at this year’s group of CBs and one thing is clear – the competition for roster spots and role assignments will be thick.
Here’s a quick look at the position group and a few facts to consider as you wait for updates from OTA #2 on Wednesday…
There are 10 CBs currently on the Vikings roster, meaning this position group comprises 11.2% of the roster. That number is not alarmingly high, but only DL, OL and WR have a higher population. Also, the Vikings kept 6 CBs entering both 2012 and 2011, and they kept just 5 CBs entering 2010. With 10 CBs on the roster and anywhere from 5-8 CBs likely to be kept entering the season, the race is on for roster spots.
Of the 10 CBs currently on the roster, we’ll categorize 4 of them as returning contributors – Chris Cook, AJ Jefferson, Josh Robinson and Marcus Sherels. These players have the advantage of knowing the Vikings defense and of being comfortable with the scheme and coaching staff.
If Cook stays healthy, expect him to lock down one starting spot. The other 3 are candidates to cross train between multiple positions to A) provide depth at those positions and/or B) to compete for a starting role.
A Developing Situation
Brandon Burton and Bobby Felder are returners from last year’s roster and are both looking to take a big step forward in their development. Burton was a 5th-round pick in 2011 and has played in 14 games with 1 start in his 2-year career. Felder went undrafted in 2012 and signed with the Vikings, eventually signing onto the team’s practice squad.
Jacob Lacey – A standout in OTA #1 on Tuesday, Lacey signed with the Vikings on April 29. He was an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State in 2009 and signed with the Indianapolis Colts. He played 3 seasons with the Colts, appearing in 43 games with 27 starts to his credit. He then signed with Detroit in March of 2012 and recorded 1 INT in 11 games with 9 starts.
Greg McCoy - Sometimes one team’s trash is another team’s treasure. The Vikings will test that theory with CB/return specialist Greg McCoy. He was a 7th-round pick of the Chicago Bears out of TCU in 2012 and was cut on final cutdown day heading into the regular season. McCoy then spent time on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. He had 7 INTs in 51 career college games at TCU and he was named his conference’s special teams player of the year in his final season after averaging 30.6 yards per return and scoring 2 TDs on 37 kickoff return attempts.
Roderick Williams – The Vikings reached north of the border to pluck an all-star. Williams measures in at 5-10, 180 pounds and is 26 years old. He’s played at a high level in the CFL for 3 seasons, collecting 11 INTs and 1 all-star honor for the Edmonton Eskimos in that time. Edmonton released Williams, who attended the same school as Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier (Alcorn State), from his contract specifically so he could pursue an opportunity in the NFL. That opportunity will be with Frazier and the Vikings.
Xavier Rhodes appealed to the Vikings for many reasons entering this year’s draft, and one of the most important reasons was his size. At 6-2, 210 pounds, Rhodes is a perfect option at outside CB and will match up well against big, physical receivers in the NFC North such as Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall.