The Vikings added ten players in the draft. Many of them have an opportunity to make a big impact early on in their careers.
Rookie guard Ed Ingram will battle with Chris Reed and Jesse Davis to be a starter for the Vikings next to Brian O’Neill. First-rounder Lewis Cine will likely handle safety duties with Harrison Smith. Brian Asamoah has a chance to be on the field due to his athleticism in sub-packages, while others like Jalen Nailor and Akayleb Evans shouldn’t be counted out to play meaningful snaps for the Vikings in 2022. Adofo-Mensah’s second pick, however, has a chance to start, thinks Kevin Seifert, who covers the Vikings for ESPN:
Rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. will emerge as a starter. The Vikings have been raving about Booth since trading up to draft him in the second round, and he joins a position group that is ripe for newcomers.
– Kevin Seifert | ESPN
The cornerback group was a big letdown in the last two seasons. After all three starters, Rhodes, Waynes, and Alexander, left in the 2020 offseason. The Vikings desperately needed CB help. The team had Mike Hughes and drafted Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler. Only one of the three remains on the roster for different reasons.
After a disastrous 2020 season, the vacuum was filled with Patrick Peterson and Beshaud Breeland. The latter wasn’t an upgrade over anything the Vikings already had and strangely even stood in the way of Dantzler getting on the field. After missing the playoffs again in 2021, and the cornerbacks had something to do with that, the Vikings once more looked for help. Adofo-Mensah found some in the draft.
First Round Talent
Strictly from a skill and playmaking perspective, Booth was among the best cornerbacks in the draft. His injury history pushed him into the second round, but he believes that surgery to repair a hernia in March has put him on the road to permanent recovery. If that’s the case, and he goes through training camp healthy, he’ll prove good enough to start opposite Patrick Peterson — or at the very least in the nickel package that the Vikings will use frequently.
Kevin Seifert, ESPN
Andrew Booth was almost exclusively touted as a first-round talent in the pre-draft process by every meaningful person in the draft business. The Vikings traded up for the cornerback and secured his services with the 41st overall selection.
He shows some impressive skills on tape. His biggest strength is that he can make the life of receivers miserable. He hits them, and he hits them hard, on every run play, on every route, after every catch. The former Clemson defender also possesses great athleticism, showing it when the ball is thrown in his direction. He didn’t record a lot of interceptions in college, but when he did, it went viral. Booth is a circus catch phenom.
To have OBJ’s hands as a cornerback is a nice attribute. His athleticism also shows in terms of movement. He has solid speed and agility, which is very important for a cornerback. Despite not running the 40-yard dash because of injuries, his tape speaks for itself and proves his speed.
The Vikings rookie was a starter for Clemson for just one season. Before that, he played as a rotational player. However, going up against Trevor Lawrence and his high-powered college offense in practice is harder than some actual games.
Booth Faces Some Competition
Booth has a chance to start. He has to beat out one of Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, or Chandon Sullivan. Peterson is probably set as one starter, and Dantzler has two years of experience ahead of Booth. At times, The Needle has shown his impressive shutdown abilities. However, he had some flawed plays mixed in. He didn’t go along with Zimmer, which cost him a few plays and maybe even some confidence. Having confidence at a high level is essential for any CB. The regime change could be great for his play on the field. The scheme change also benefits Dantzler because he probably can play more man coverage where he excels. More confidence and experience paired with a more fitting scheme could mean a great year for Dantzler.
Another chance for Booth to see the field could be in the slot. Per PFF, he played just four snaps there in his last season. It’s not a position that’s easy to learn. He has the skill set, but it’s hard to imagine him beating out Sullivan for Week 1. Especially after already missing time during the OTAs.
It’s more likely that the rookie won’t be a starter in the Vikings’ opening game against the Packers and is instead a backup. Later in the season, however, he could play a significant role for the Vikings. He is too talented to be buried on a questionable depth chart for an extended period.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt