The Minnesota Vikings were absolutely atrocious on defense last year. Ed Donatell’s scheme didn’t work and failing to make adjustments got him canned. They could be run on, but even more so, they gave up yardage through the air. With a secondary needing a better output, drafting cornerback Christian Gonzalez would be a good place to start.
A season from now, the Vikings cornerback group could look substantially different. Patrick Peterson is a free agent, and while Minnesota would love to have him back, he’s an aging veteran who will see a nice payday for his solid year. Chandon Sullivan was a cheap addition and is a free agent as well. Both represented veteran additions last offseason and are currently not in the picture.
Vikings Can Quack Defense With Christian Gonzalez
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah targeted the cornerback spot with multiple draft picks a season ago. Andrew Booth Jr. fell into the 2nd round due to injury concerns and failed to distance himself from those in year one. Akayleb Evans was taken later in the draft, and after breaking out against the Washington Commanders, concussion issues ended his season and clouded his future.
Needing to go against some of the best wideouts in the league, Christian Gonzalez could be an option for Minnesota with their 23rd overall pick. After starting his college career with the Buffaloes at Colorado, Gonzalez entered the transfer portal and played for Dan Lanning’s Oregon Ducks last season. He was billed as among the best cover corners in college football, and his season in Eugene did nothing to slow that notion.
Starting all 12 games for the Ducks, Gonzalez picked off four passes and recorded seven passes defended. He racked up 50 total tackles and made good use of his larger frame. At 6’2″, he should have the height to challenge bigger receivers in the NFL, and he should be expected to shine during the combine.
In his first mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Gonzalez coming off the board just a few picks ahead of the Vikings. Going 18th overall to the Detroit Lions, Kiper says this about Gonzalez, “Gonzalez was a lockdown defender at Colorado before transferring to Oregon last year, where he picked off four passes and improved every week. He’s going to test really well at the combine in March, too.”
It may be somewhat unlikely that Minnesota trades up only a marginal amount of spots to grab someone in the secondary. Outside of going way up in the 1st round to get a quarterback, the Vikings defense has enough holes that they should find value no matter where they pick. That being said, if Gonzalez is a guy they seem enamored with, moving up to get him may be a necessary part of the process.
A season ago, the Vikings won 13 games and never provided comfort during wins due to their defense. Opposing quarterbacks picked apart the secondary, and a magical season for Justin Jefferson was all but wasted. Finding a way to keep the opposition in check for 2023 is a must, and locking down would-be pass catchers seems a straightforward way to do so.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.