The Minnesota Vikings have two young big and physical cornerbacks that are expected to be starters for a long time.
Xavier Rhodes emerged two seasons ago as a No. 1 cornerback. In the first round of last season’s draft, they added Trae Waynes. Those two will be on the two-deep depth chart for the Vikings this season.
The other two expect top four corners on the team are veterans Captain Munnerlyn and Terence Newman. Newman started opposite Rhodes with the expectation that he would mentor Waynes and help him get acclimated to the NFL and head coach Mike Zimmer’s system. Instead he was a quality starter that earned another contract with the Vikings.
The depth behind the top four is questionable. Jabari Price showed flashes, but has missed time due to injuries and a suspension. Marcus Sherels is a good punt returner, but has done little when pressed into cornerback duty.
The Vikings depth chart is top heavy and could use another body or two to challenge Price for the fifth spot.
Need level: Low medium
Here are the top five cornerbacks as well as an underrated, overrated and sleeper prospect. (Positions based on NFL.com’s list)
No. 1 – Jalen Ramsey, Florida State. He is big, athletic and versatile. His combination of length, speed and physicality frustrates receivers. Some question his production and wonder if he has the confidence/cockiness to be a shut down corner.
No. 2 – Vernon Hargreaves, Florida. He is shorter corner with very good ball skills and leaping ability. He also has the instincts to jump routes or sit on double moves. He shows a willingness to get involved in run support, but will make his money in coverage.
No. 3 – Eli Apple, Ohio State. He is a rising steadily rising prospect with good length, strength and physicality that could take near the top 10. His physicality will get him in trouble with penalties and will slow him down off the line of scrimmage. He has the athleticism to be a shut down corner.
No. 4 – Mackensie Alexander, Clemson. He was inconsistent for Tigers, but was not tested and was a highly recruit prospect out of high school. He does not have ideal size nor blazing speed, but can lock onto receivers in man coverage and not let go. He has a borderline-cocky confidence that can be an asset if used in the right way.
No. 5 – William Jackson III, Houston. He has blazing speed to go along with good length. He also has good ball skills and athleticism. He is a rising prospect that could get into the top 15 of the draft.
Overrated – Xavien Howard, Baylor. He is a big corner that has a boom or bust style. That creates inconsistency from game to game. He has good ball skills, but coaches need to have patience to take the bad with the good.
Underrated – Eric Murray, Minnesota. He does not have eye-popping measurables nor impressive numbers. However, teams did not throw his way. He also shut down some of the conference’s best receivers, including a current NFL Pro Bowler.
Sleeper – Deiondre’ Hall, Northern Iowa. He is a long and productive defensive back from the FCS level. He is not a burner, but has the instincts, length and footwork to stay with receivers in and out of the breaks. He also has the skill set to play either cornerback or safety in the NFL.