The Vikings have reported for camp and are now seeking answers to replenish a depleted defense. In 2021, the Vikings had significant issues throughout the defense. Perhaps most notably at cornerback. With training camp beginning, the Vikings’ key position battle is underway.
While there were holes all over the defense, the cornerback position was the worst. You could argue that edge rushing was a bigger disaster, but the cornerback position group is more valuable overall. Therefore, the Vikings need to find an answer in this training camp.
Thankfully, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the new coaching staff recognized this problem early. They invested significant draft capital, a second and fourth-round pick, on cornerbacks. Andew Booth Jr. and Akalyeb Evans will be battling for a starting position this season.
Additionally, the front office added some firepower to the safety and linebacker positions. The first-round pick Lewis Cine and third-round pick Brian Asamoah will be working for a contributing role in 2022. Both of these players could see significant playing time early this season.
The question remains unanswered: Who wins the starting job in these key positions?
Who Wins Cornerback Starting Roles?
By far, the most important position for the Vikings to figure out this season is the cornerback. Edge rusher was a concern, but with the signing of Za’Darius Smith, that problem was solved. Better yet, Danielle Hunter and Smith appear healthy and ready to go at the beginning of training camp.
However, the cornerback room is much different. The Vikings have several young players. Some have potential, and some are battling to show they can make it in this league. The group looks like this as of now:
- Patrick Peterson
- Cam Dantzler
- Andrew Booth Jr.
- Akayleb Evans
- Chandon Sullivan
- Kris Boyd
- Harrison Hand
- Nate Hairston
First things first, P2 will be the starting cornerback this season. This was never a question. However, Dantzler has his work cut out against Booth, who is reportedly healthy and ready for camp.
With Booth getting into camp healthy, there is a really good chance he wins the starting job. Booth is much more physical than Dantzler, and he appears to have better ball skills. Of course, this still needs to play out at the NFL level. However, if Booth brings the same demeanor he had in college to the NFL game, he will run away with this job.
To round out the CB group, both Sullivan and Evans are shoe-ins for a position because Sullivan is a slot corner, and Evans is a 4th-round pick. This leaves Boyd, Hand, and Hairston on the roster to battle for CB6.
Unfortunately, Hairston arrived at camp with an injury that will have him sidelined for some time. So, Boyd and Hand will be battling for their lives. My money is on Boyd to come out on top of this one.
More Interesting Camp Battles to Watch
Outside the cornerback room, there is not much battling for starting roles. However, Lewis Cine still needs to earn his keep in this league. Although, he is a first-round pick and his expectations are high. We should fully expect him to run away with the safety position next to Harrison Smith.
One of the more interesting and less discussed battles is Brian Asamoah and Jordan Hicks. Asamoah reportedly impressed the coaches at mini-camp and OTAs. This kid flies around the football field, and everyone knows it.
Asamoah is one of the surprises I expect to see earn a starting role by the end of training camp. In fact, I think he has a real chance to impact this Vikings roster significantly. Watch for him to absolutely light it up in training camp and the preseason.
Mitch Massman is a life-long Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3