The Vikings will head back to Mankato with 10 cornerbacks in tow, including 2014 starters Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes, and new faces at both ends of the age spectrum: veteran Terence Newman, 36, and first-round draft pick Trae Waynes, who turns 23 Saturday when he and teammates report to camp.
Total going to camp: 10
Total on 2014 opening day roster: 6 (plus one on the practice squad)
Average age: 25.6
Most experienced: Terence Newman—36 years old; going into 13th season
Rookies: 2 (Trae Waynes, Justin Coleman)
Position coaches: Jerry Gray, assisted by Jonathan Gannon
Of the 10 cornerbacks, three are first-round picks: Newman, Rhodes and Waynes. In addition to still playing at a high talent level, Newman might know more about the Vikings defense than any returning player because he previously played with Head Coach Mike Zimmer as his defensive coordinator in Dallas (four seasons) and Cincinnati (two seasons). The selections of Rhodes and Waynes shows emphasis that Minnesota has placed on the position in the past three drafts. Rhodes had arguably the most improved season of any player, based on 2013 to 2014 performance, and has the goal to keep climbing. Waynes arrived at Winter Park with a learner's mentality and speed that can't be taught.
Munnerlyn signed with the Vikings in 2014 and started on the outside opposite Rhodes. He, however, would move inside to cover the slot when Josh Robison entered the game and the Vikings implemented their nickel package. Munnerlyn and Robinson missed some of the offseason program because of injuries, which created an opportunity for 2014 seventh-rounder Jabari Price to work on the outside and in the slot. The versatility offered by Marcus Sherels is through his involvement in the punt return game, where he's been both reliable and explosive at the right moment.
Tall and Taller
The Vikings added depth at the position when they signed DeMarcus Van Dyke and Jalil Carter in January. They also added size, with Van Dyke (6 foot, 1 inch) and Carter (6-2), who is the tallest CB on the Vikings roster. As receivers increase in size, teams have searched for taller cornerbacks who can run, which gives both an opportunity for ample consideration.
After the draft, the Vikings also signed undrafted rookie Justin Coleman, who had four interceptions and 4.0 tackles for loss as a senior at Tennessee.
Gotta have 'em
The NFL can be a pass-happy environment, and the NFC North is no exception. The division is returning five of the top 10 leaders in receiving yards in the NFC from a year ago, and the Bears drafted Kevin White seventh overall, four spots ahead of Waynes. The abundance of talent to keep tabs on creates the need for a deep roster at the position.
Despite the threats in the division, the Vikings improved considerably in passing yards allowed per game, going from allowing 287.2 (31st in the NFL) in 2013 to 223.3 (7th) last season. Amassing talent and depth at cornerback could help them become a top 10 team in the category for years to come.