It’s that time of year where a team is loaded up on talent at many positions. Sadly, not all of those players will go on to make the 53 man roster or the practice squad. This the the eighth installment in the Minnesota Vikings position battle series and is all about the cornerbacks!
Let’s take a look at the cornerbacks currently on the roster:
- #21 Josh Robinson
- #24 Captain Munnerlyn
- #26 Robert Steeples
- #27 Shaun Prater
- #29 Xavier Rhodes
- #35 Marcus Sherels
- #37 Derek Cox
- #38 Julian Posey
- #39 Jabari Price
- #40 Kendall James
Here’s a quick breakdown of each of these guys:
Josh Robinson has been getting a lot of crap from the media and fans. Last season, he struggled while playing out of his comfort zone as a nickel corner. This year, we should see him return to the outside and utilize his speed to keep up with deep threats from opposing teams. This season is huge for Robinson to make a name for himself with the team and the fan base.
Captain Munnerlyn was the Vikings major offseason pickup. He had a lot of success in previous seasons with the Carolina Panthers, where he had 7 interceptions and 5 defensive touchdowns in his 5 years there. Plus, four of those interceptions and touchdowns came in the last two years. Munnerlyn should see action covering the outside and slot this year.
Robert Steeples only saw action in two games last year, but the team must see something in him that they really like in order to keep him with the team. He was activated from the practice squad last year when the Minnesota Vikings secondary was demolished by injury. He will face tough competition to stick with the 53 or practice squad this season.
Shaun Prater is an interesting player. There are times when he looks like a very competent cornerback and others when he seems confused. He recorded his first career interception last year when finding playing time because of injuries to other players. He made the most of his opportunity and should be considered for a spot on the 53 man roster.
Xavier Rhodes has some insanely high expectations resting on his shoulders this year. He will be called upon to be a starter after playing well before an injury last year. However, when he was healthy he showed that he has the potential to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. The only question is if he can stay healthy and realize that potential.
Marcus Sherels is a decent cornerback. He isn’t going to compete for a starting job over the other guys on this list. His real value is on special teams, where he averaged over 15 yards per punt return. That kind of field position is priceless for offenses. However, there are other players on the team that can handle the duties if the team wants a better corner on the roster instead.
Derek Cox is a tale of two players. If you watch his tape from San Diego, you’d think he sucks. But if you check out his rookie and sophomore year in Jacksonville, you will see a pro bowl caliber player. It seems as though Minnesota’s more aggressive scheme may fit the skill set of Cox better than it did with the Chargers, but that is yet to be seen on the field.
Julian Posey is on his third team in three years. He started with the Cleveland Browns, moved on to the Miami Dolphins, and is now with the Minnesota Vikings. In five games played, he has three tackles and one sack. For him to find a role on this team, he will have to be very impressive in camp and preseason. Even then, he faces tough competition.
Jabari Price was a seventh round draft pick this year. He showed great skills as a starter at North Carolina, but whether or not those skill will transfer to the NFL level is yet to be seen. He is a smart player who was named an All-American scholar. His intelligence will help him in a huge way in competing for a spot on the team or practice squad
Kendall James was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. James was a multi-sport athlete at Maine, where he played football and basketball. A hamstring injury held him out of some of the events in the combine, but his athleticism shouldn’t be questioned. In order for him to make the roster or practice squad, he will have to showcase his abilities on the field.
Here are the players I see making the 53 man roster:
- Xavier Rhodes
- Captain Munnerlyn
- Josh Robinson
- Derek Cox
- Shaun Prater
- Marcus Sherels
Analysis of My Prediction
The Minnesota Vikings will look to improve on what was considered one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. With Chris Cook moved on to the 49ers, the team will have to find a player to hold down the side opposite Xavier Rhodes. I expect Munnerlyn and Robinson to share that duty unless Derek Cox can really shine during the preseason and win that job. Then, you can add in Marcus Sherels for special teams and Shaun Prater for cornerback depth.
Price and James will most likely be the two players competing for a spot on the practice squad. Hopefully one (or both) of them can show enough for the team to want to hold on to them for now.
The more aggressive defensive scheme should help this secondary out in a huge way. I fully expect to see the Minnesota Vikings to have a much improved defense this year.