The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs published his third 2022 NFL Mock Draft of the season this week, and for a Minnesota Vikings team that fell to 3-4 following Sunday night’s Week 8 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, there’s help on the way for the secondary.
Crabbs has the Vikings picking Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. at No. 19 overall, which makes sense considering the current state of Minnesota’s defensive backfield. It’s a good year to have a need at cornerback, as Crabbs has four corners off the board in the top 20 picks. And while the Vikings end up with the fourth guy in that bunch, Booth has as much upside as the players who were picked ahead of him, sans Derrick Stingley Jr., who Crabbs had as the second overall selection to the Houston Texans.
“Whether you're looking to lock down receivers in press-man coverage or play a little softer and bank on his reactive quickness to get into the body of receivers, Booth is capable of doing it all,” Crabbs wrote. “And we all know just how much Mike Zimmer loves his defensive backs. If you could pick a single coach to pair Booth with to make the most of his physical gifts, it might well be Zimmer.”
The combination of Mackensie Alexander and Bashaud Breeland hasn’t served the Vikings well this season. They’re two of the five lowest-graded defenders on the Vikings, per Pro Football Focus, with Alexander scoring an especially putrid season grade of 47.9 through seven games.
The most promising cornerback on Minnesota’s roster right now might be Cameron Dantzler, the 89th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Dantzler has a bright future despite finding himself in Zimmer’s doghouse early in the season; he was a healthy scratch in Week 1 and needed injuries to Patrick Peterson and Breeland to get reps. He’s currently Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded cornerback in Minnesota, although he hasn’t played nearly the amount of reps as the starters (he’s logged just 186 snaps compared to 367 for Breeland and 318 for Alexander).
Regardless of Dantzler’s yet-to-be-realized potential, it’s obvious that one of the biggest needs the Vikings have entering the 2022 offseason will be at cornerback. The disaster that was the Jeff Gladney selection (first-round pick in 2020) set this position group back significantly and will force general manager Rick Spielman to dip back into the cornerback prospect pool early in 2022.
Booth ranks eighth on Crabbs’ updated top-100 list and is his second-highest rated cornerback behind only Stingley. If the 2022 draft falls the way this mock predicts, the Vikings will be enriched with a player whose scouting report and pedigree suggest he should be picked about 10 slots higher.
Much will change in the mock draft landscape between now and the end of the season—and free agency will significantly impact team needs for all 32 clubs—but when teams have as big of a need as the Vikings do in their secondary, it’s pretty safe to project they’ll fill that need in the draft because of how costly a top-shelf cornerback is on the open market.