EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings added another cornerback to their arsenal Monday by signing free agent Nate Hairston.
Hairston, a fifth-round pick by Indianapolis in the 2017 NFL Draft, has spent time with the Colts (2017-18), Jets (2019-20) and Broncos (2020-21).
He played in 16 games for Denver last season, during which he totaled nine tackles and four passes defensed, while contributing heavily on special teams.
Here are five things to know about Hairston:
1. Switched sides of the ball
Hairston's collegiate career started out modestly, as he didn't see much action as a receiver in his first three seasons at Temple. He transitioned to the defensive side of the ball prior to his senior campaign, though, and garnered attention at cornerback.
As a redshirt senior in 2016, he started every game for the Owls and registered his first career interception, a 21-yard pick against UCF. He stood out on special teams, too, once saving a touchdown by making the tackle on a 60-yard kickoff return.
While Hairston shares an alma mater with fellow Vikings cornerback Harrison Hand, the two did not overlap at Temple, as Hand transferred just for the 2019 season.
View photos of new Vikings CB Nate Hairston who joined the team during free agency.
2. From little-known to all-star
After impressing as a defensive back, Hairston was invited to the 2017 East-West Shrine Bowl.
He caught the eyes of scouts and NFL draft analysts, recording three tackles in the all-star game en route to participating at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.
3. Knows Donatell from Denver
Hairston may be a new face in Minnesota's locker room, but he already knows one of his main coaches.
The 27-year-old has familiarity with new Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell, who held the same position with the Broncos from 2019-21.
4. Social justice advocate
Hairston has been involved in the community throughout his NFL career, from his active partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs to creating change while promoting social justice.
In February, Hairston and Broncos free safety Justin Simmons co-wrote an opinion column published by The Denver Post. The headline read "Simmons and Hairston: Police still arrest kids as young as 10 in Colorado. It's unnecessary and harmful." The opening of the column is below:
There is little we agree on in this country right now, but one principle should ring true to all of us: children deserve kindness and understanding, an opportunity to grow and learn and thrive. Unfortunately in America, this is not the reality for many children, especially children of color. We have basically come to accept that we will have children, and especially children of color, in failing schools. And while we have made some progress in ending the school-to-prison pipeline, it is still alive and well throughout this nation. Many kids see more police than counselors.
5. Intentional ink
Hairston has a full back tattoo, in which one can pick out a number of meaningful images that include Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Rosa Parks and a quote from W.E.B. Du Bois: "Ignorance is a cure for nothing." In addition to those Civil Rights leaders, the tattoo also includes Black Panther from the Marvel superhero series.