News | Minnesota Vikings – vikings.com

2022 NFL Draft Prospects for Vikings: Cornerbacks

View photos of potential cornerbacks the Vikings can select in the 2022 NFL Draft.

In the leadup to the 2022 NFL Draft, Vikings.com is taking a position-by-position look at prospects who have garnered a range of attention from national outlets. The series will include rankings by those national outlets, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.

Vikings status at cornerback

The Vikings have added more players to this group over the past month, but many experts believe cornerback remains Minnesota's No. 1 need heading into the draft.

Patrick Peterson is back in Purple, and the Vikings also added Chandon Sullivan and Nate Hairston during free agency. Besides Peterson, a handful of other cornerbacks will also be returning to the roster in 2022, including Tye Smith, who also re-signed after briefly becoming a free agent.

Cameron Dantzler could be in line to start in his third season, while the duo of Kris Boyd and Harrison Hand have mostly been contributors on special teams in recent seasons. The Vikings also have Parry Nickerson on their roster.

While thar group has ample bodies in the room, there also is no player who is under contract for longer than the next two seasons.

If the Vikings choose to go with a cornerback in any round, but especially the first one, it would add an influx of talent while also adding a long-term player at that position.

Ask the analyst

Dane Brugler is one of the most well-respected and insightful draft analysts around the country. His annual draft guide, dubbed "The Beast," features scouting reports on 399 prospects and has rankings and testing data for 1,698 prospects. The draft guide can be found here. Follow him on Twitter @dpbrugler for his analysis.

Is cornerback the No. 1 need for the Vikings?

Brugler: "Yeah, as you look at the Vikings roster and where they can get better, you look to the secondary as an area where they need some upgrades. Especially in today's NFL, people want to push the ball down the field, first and foremost. To add corners to the mix, both inside and outside, guys that can cover, make the offense change how they attack you, that's the goal for a lot of these teams, especially the Vikings. You have Aaron Rodgers in your division, and you think about what the Bears want Justin Fields to be, you want to get better on the outside and in the slot. It's just getting more security on the back end."

How would you assess the depth of this cornerback class?

Brugler: "It's pretty solid. I wouldn't say it's amazing, but I wouldn't say it's below average. It's above average in terms of the guys that will go in the first [round], and then the depth in the second and third. We're going to see at least three guys go in the first, probably a few more. Then on Day 2, there are some really interesting players. You can poke holes in them — there's a reason we're talking about them as Day 2 players — but there's also plenty of reasons to be excited about what they can offer. Day 3 is more developmental players. Guys that have speed or tested well, something that stands out, but maybe they're not as athletic or have ball production. It gives you reservations, but if they're able to get better, they can be a contributor for you. Overall, pass rusher is the best position in this draft. But after that, corner is right there in the mix with linebacker, wide receiver, maybe throw tackle in there, in terms of that next tier."

View the best cornerback photos from the 2021 season shot by Vikings photographers.

You mentioned Day 2, who's your favorite cornerback prospect in Rounds 2 or 3?

Brugler: "I'll give you two guys, and they're very different types of players. Cam Taylor-Britt from Nebraska. He's 5-foot-11, 196 pounds. A big, physical athlete with 4.3 speed. He can play inside, outside, safety, man, zone. A lot to like about what he offers. I want to see him get better with his route recognition, but there's a lot to like. The second guy, and he may not even go on Day 2 anymore because of his injuries, but Marcus Jones at Houston. He's 5-8, 174 pounds, so he's undersized. He has 29-inch arms, and he's coming off double shoulder surgery. But based off tape and production, he's a guy you want on your roster to play in the slot. And he's an impact return man, too. With Jones, it's a little volatile in where he'll be drafted. The size and durability works against him, but when he's healthy and on the field, it's easy to get excited about him."

Expert rankings

Daniel Jeremiah currently has five cornerbacks in his overall Top 50: 3. Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, 14. Trent McDuffie, 15. Derek Stingley, Jr., 30. Andrew Booth, Jr., and 37. Kyler Gordon.

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has three cornerbacks in his overall Top 25: 4. Gardner, 9. Stingley and 15. McDuffie.

Rankings for cornerbacks by Jeremiah, his NFL Media counterpart Bucky Brooks, Kiper, analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler are listed below.

Prospects

Note: Heights and weights are from each player's profile on NFL.com (linked for each player's name).

CB Ahmad Gardner
CB Ahmad Gardner

School: Cincinnati| Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 190 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
CB1CB1CB1CB3CB2

2021 stats: 13 games; recorded 40 total tackles (28 solo) with five tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, three interceptions and four passes defended

One of a kind: Gardner, the unanimous pick as the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, also earned All-American honors in 2021. It was the second straight season with All-American accolades for Gardner, who became the first player in program history to accomplish that feat.

Brugler's Breakdown: "He's 6-3, 190 pounds and runs a 4.41. That right there gets your interest. And then, by the way, he never gave up a touchdown reception in college over 1,100 coverage snaps. He was a slow burn for me because teams didn't throw at him. He saw only 11-percent of their total defensive targets, so you want to see offenses try to go at him, but they didn't. You want to see more, but it's for a reason. With the confidence he plays with, he moves well. He's going to go somewhere in the top seven picks, I'd be very surprised if he doesn't."

CB Trent McDuffie
CB Trent McDuffie

School: Washington | Year: Jr. | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt: 193 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
CB2CB4CB3CB2CB1

2021 stats: 11 games; recorded 35 total tackles (25 solo) with four tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and six passes defended

Racking up awards: McDuffie was named Washington's team's Most Outstanding Defensive Player at the postseason banquet. He was also a 2021 First-Team All-Pac-12 selection, which followed up Second-Team All-Pac-12 honors in 2020.

Brugler's Breakdown: "If you can get past his lack of length, he has under 30-inch arms and that's not ideal. And he's 5-11, 193 pounds. But he's one of the smartest coverage corners I've ever talked to as a prospect. I've been doing this a long time now, and he's one of the smartest in terms of understanding the entire defense, how his responsibilities change based off formations, based on motion. The way he processes is very impressive. Doesn't have a ton of ball production, but kind of like Gardner, teams didn't test him that much."

CB Derek Stingley, Jr.
CB Derek Stingley, Jr.

School: LSU | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot | Wt: 190 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr. 3Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
CB3CB3CB2CB1CB3

2021 stats: 3 games; recorded 8 total tackles (6 solo) with 3.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble

Status check: Stingley missed all but three games in 2021 due to a foot injury and played in seven games in 2020. He was a star as a freshman in 2019, recording six interceptions and garnering consensus First-Team All-American honors.

Brugler's Breakdown: "If we flip his 2019 season and 2021 season, he might be the No. 1 overall pick. He was so impressive his freshman year with 21 passes defended and six interceptions. This past year, he missed most of the season with a foot injury, so it makes him a little bit of a wild card. For him, it was good he was able to get on the field at his pro day and run really well. I think he's in the mix of being a top-15 player, and he could easily go in the top-10."

CB Andrew Booth, Jr.
CB Andrew Booth, Jr.

School: Clemson | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt: 194 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
CB4CB2CB4CB4CB5

2021 stats: 11 games; recorded 37 total tackles (26 solo) with three tackles for loss, three interceptions and five passes defended

First-round talent?: Booth is among the more talented cornerbacks in the draft, but he underwent surgery in March. If he does indeed go in the first round, he will make it four straight drafts that Clemson has had a player picked in Round 1.

Brugler's Breakdown: "Honestly, if not for the injuries, Booth would be comfortably in the first round. But he's another guy we haven't been able to see this draft process. He had a quad strain and double hernia surgery. Multiple issues here, and I think long-term he'll be fine. But it might be enough to push him into Round 2. He has size and when the ball is in the air, he's going to go get it. He has some highlight-reel interceptions. He's a fluid athlete, can play press and off man. A lot to like — it's just about staying on the field."

CB Kyler Gordon
CB Kyler Gordon

School: Washington | Year: Redshirt Jr. | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt: 194 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
CB5UnrankedCB4CB9CB4

2021 stats: 12 games; recorded 45 total tackles (36 solo) with two tackles for loss, two interceptions, seven passes defended and a forced fumble

Clean sweep: Gordon and former teammate McDuffie swept the podium in 2021 as both were named First-Team All-Pac-12 selections. The last Washington cornerback to go in the first round was Marcus Peters in 2015.

Brugler's Breakdown: "Not as technically sound or instinctive as McDuffie, but he plays with tremendous acceleration and is more physical. And his testing numbers were off the charts in the three-cone and short shuttle. He has a background in martial arts and dance. He'll be in the conversation for late [in the first round], but if not, he'll go early [in the second]."

CB Roger McCreary
CB Roger McCreary

School: Auburn | Year: Sr. | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt: 190 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusColumn Dane Brugler
UnrankedCB5CB7CB8CB7

2021 stats: 12 games; recorded 49 total tackles (41 solo) with two tackles for loss, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 14 passes defended and a fumble recovery

Plenty of experience: McCreary played in 42 career games at Auburn. He registered 135 career tackles with six interceptions and 32 pass breakups.

CB Kaiir Elam
CB Kaiir Elam

School: Florida | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-2 | Wt: 196 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedUnrankedCB6CB5CB6

2021 stats: 10 games; recorded 29 total tackles (17 solo) with 1.5 tackles for loss, one interception and five passes defended

Football family: Elam's father and uncle were NFL defensive backs. His father, Abram, played for four teams over seven seasons, making 71 career starts at safety. His uncle, Matt, also attended Florida and was a 2013 first-round pick by Baltimore as a safety.

CB Marcus Jones
CB Marcus Jones

School: Houston (after Troy) | Year: Sr. | Ht: 5-foot-8 | Wt: 174 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedUnrankedCB8CB11CB8

2021 stats: 13 games; recorded 47 total tackles (36 solo) with a tackle for loss, five interceptions, 13 passes defended and a forced fumble; had two kickoff returns for touchdowns and two punt returns for touchdowns

Special teams star: Jones is among the best returners in this draft class, as he scored at least one special teams touchdown in each of his four college seasons. He had three (all on kickoffs) as a freshman at Troy in 2017 before adding another score on a kickoff return as a sophomore. He transferred to Houston and redshirted in 2019 before having more success on special teams. Jones had a punt return for a score in 2020 before adding a pair in each phase as a senior.

CB Tariq Woolen
CB Tariq Woolen

School: Texas-San Antonio | Year: Redshirt Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt: 205 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedUnrankedCB9CB15CB9

2021 stats: 9 games; recorded 25 total tackles (17 solo) with 2.5 tackles for loss, one interception and five passes defended

Pure Speed: Woolen has plenty of speed, as he clocked in at 4.26 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. That time is the fourth-fastest in the history of the event.

CB Coby Bryant
CB Coby Bryant

School: Cincinnati | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt: 193 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel JeremiahBucky BrooksMel Kiper, Jr.Pro Football FocusDane Brugler
UnrankedUnrankedT-CB10CB18CB10

2021 stats: 14 games; recorded 44 total tackles (34 solo) with 1.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 11 passes defended and two forced fumbles

Best in class: Bryant, who appeared in 53 college games, ended his career by winning the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation's top defensive back. He was also a First-Team AAC selection in 2020 and 2021 and was a team captain for the Bearcats.

DraftParty_1329x750

2022 Miller Lite Vikings Draft Party

Vikings Draft Party is making its return to in-person festivities at U.S. Bank Stadium! The party will kick off at 6 p.m. (CT) Thursday, April 28.

Advertising