It seems like a foregone conclusion that the Minnesota Vikings will select a cornerback with their first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s the team’s biggest weakness entering the offseason and fortunately for new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the Vikings will have a few quality cornerback prospects to choose from at the 12th overall pick. According to TDN scout Drae Harris’ latest 2022 mock draft, the Vikings address their pressing need with Washington Huskies star, Trent McDuffie. Here’s what Harris wrote about McDuffie in his player evaluation:
Trent McDuffie is a very good athlete with good lateral agility and overall quickness in coverage. In the run game, he is an aggressive tackler who seemingly enjoys the physical aspect of the game. He seems to relish when he is the force player in zone, so that he can be a willing participant in the run game. In the passing game, although he plays the game from “bail” technique more often than not, he demonstrates good hips and feel to stay in phase in coverage. He is always close in coverage and is rarely out of position. In zone, he demonstrates good instincts, easily passing off routes. He easily identifies when the opposition threatens his zone and knows how to utilize his help. I wish he were consistently more effective as a re-router in press situations. On third downs, he can play inside or outside but may have more value inside at nickel—it’s there that he can use his physicality, instincts, and lateral agility to excel at this position.An interesting takeaway from McDuffie going No. 12 overall is how need almost forces a pick like this by the Vikings. McDuffie is CB5 and the No. 33 player overall on TDN’s current player rankings; put another way, McDuffie is a fringe first-round prospect but in Harris’ mock draft, he’s a top-12 pick. It wouldn’t be the first time that a player whose film suggests he’s a late-first, early-second round pick gets pushed way up the board because of need. Normally, we’d see this happen at quarterback—which might actually happen this year despite the weakness of the class. In the case of the Vikings, their need at cornerback is so pressing that they’ll have almost no choice but to draft whoever the highest-rated cornerback still on the board is. https://twitter.com/uSTADIUM/status/1497256479644078081 The odds the Vikings select a position other than cornerback in the 2022 NFL draft aren’t great, but if I had to bet on any position potentially sneaking into the mix late in the process, it’s quarterback. Yes… quarterback. Veteran Kirk Cousins is a fine starting quarterback. He takes unfair abuse at times because of his stature as being more relevant to fantasy football managers than he is to an NFL playoff race, but the Vikings could do a lot worse than him behind center. That said, 2022 is the final year of Cousins’ contract, and it’s likely he’s already signed his last multi-year blockbuster deal in Minnesota. This brings us to the 2022 NFL draft quarterbacks and the chance the Vikings may have to land one of the best, if not the best, quarterback prospects. There’s an expectation that the top two quarterbacks in this year’s draft—Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Liberty’s Malik Willis—will both be gone by No. 12 overall: Pickett to the Carolina Panthers (No. 6 overall) or Denver Broncos (No. 9 overall) and Willis to the Washington Commanders (No. 11 overall). But if either of them slips to the Vikings’ pick at No. 12? All bets are off. Yes, Minnesota needs a cornerback in the worst way. But it doesn’t matter how many lockdown cornerbacks you have on your roster if you don’t have a quarterback who can win games. For 2022, that’ll be Cousins. But if the Vikings have a chance to land a quarterback in this year’s draft who will be the future of the position in Minnesota? Don’t rule it out.