Sep 22, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) against the Cleveland Browns at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Browns defeated the Vikings 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings Position Battle: Cornerbacks

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:

Here’s a quick breakdown of each of these guys:

Nov 7, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson (21) against the Washington Redskins at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Redskins 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 7, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson (21) against the Washington Redskins at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Redskins 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Nov 24, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Shaun Prater (27) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Vikings and Packers tied 26-26. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 24, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Shaun Prater (27) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Vikings and Packers tied 26-26. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Nov 17, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; San Diego Chargers cornerback Derek Cox (22) against the Miami Dolphins during their game at Sun Life Stadium. Miami won 20-16. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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.

My Prediction

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.

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Tags: Captain Munnerlyn Derek Cox Josh Robinson Marcus Sherels Minnesota Vikings Xavier Rhodes

  • Don Andrew Halvorson

    You are nailing the roster thus far. Good job.

    • Bob T

      I agree!!! SKOL

  • Todd Robinson

    cornerbacks,not wide recievers……..oops

    • Adam Carlson

      Nice catch. Fixed it up.

    • Adam B. Carlson

      Nice catch. I fixed it.

      • Todd Robinson

        nice article….looking forward to safeties!

  • MikeH123

    The Vikings CB plan beyond Rhodes and Munnerlyn seems to be to get a bunch of unproven CBs and hope somebody sticks. Before this gets real ugly, I would get Flowers.

    • Bob E.

      Flowers got beat a lot last year… Flowers would just be adding to the “hope it sticks” catagorie as much as Cox would be. Nice to know the new coach can supposedly get the best out of his players, because if Zim can get Cox back on track, we will have a very strong CB lineup.

      • MikeH123

        Flowers was better than Cox last year.

        • David Mallow

          Flowers was better than Cox last year. but Cox was in a scheme that was completely wrong for him..he is a press corner and SD plays off man with some cover 2.. go back to his time in Jacksonville, he made the Pro Bowl and posted really well…he has a ton of upside with Zimmer and Gray.. Flowers sucks in press coverage and fir us would be a slot corner at best..Munnerlyn has that locked down, so to bring in another high priced CB would be pointless

          • Bob T

            Thanks Dave.

          • MikeH123

            Your faith in Cox is not shared by me or the author of this article who thinks even Josh Robinson will beat him out. If neither work out as I suspect, I would play Flowers in the slot and let Munnerlyn play outside all of the time, where he is expected to play much of the time anyway.

          • Bob T

            Munnerlyn reads well. That’s what makes him a good sideline corner. But it is the same reason it makes him an excellent slot.At 5’8″ I would prefer him at slot on obvious throwing downs.On Friday I want my shiny quarter. Of course Flowers may not be signed by then.

          • MikeH123

            Brandon Flowers signed for $5 million for one year to play outside CB on the playoff team that dumped Derek Cox. I want my quarter since I predicted the Vikings would not have the good sense to sign him.

          • David Mallow

            noone will be getting torched.. the main problem was the scheme..cover 2 is garbage with the league evolving as a pass happy league. Cox will fit much better in this scheme than he did in the SD defense.. honestly,I wouldn’t be surprised if Prater works his way to the #2 CB..but I like Coxs chances

          • Bob T

            nice editing

        • Joe Ecv Crosman Bittner

          Do you have any good insight? Or are you just a douche nozzle?

  • Zack Selzman

    Prater looked good at the end of last year and played Press man in Iowa. He has a lot of potential. Cox should fit nicely as well. I don’t think that we are looking at completely unproven talent. There are enough young guys who have shown flashes of talent that, without question, some of them will work out well. The Vikings are a very young team and the secondary is right where you would expect the secondary of a very young team to be.

  • Benjamin Lake Hamilton

    Josh Robinson didn’t JUST play in the slot last season. I know we wanted him to be our slot guy, and he wasn’t ready to cover without the sideline, but he also covered on the outside many times. That did not go well either. This is a convenient out for him, because it gives him an excuse to to rebuild, but he was just generally terribly last season and the slot had nothing, or very little, to do with it.

    • David Mallow

      he actually played very little outside.97.6% of his snaps were in the slot ,and he is much better on the outside. he is the 3rd best CB on the roster without question. not saying he’s great, but he will be improved in Zimmers scheme. he will not be cut

      • Benjamin Lake Hamilton

        I’m not doubting you, but I’d like to know a source for that very specific statistic. Xavier Rhodes and Chris Cook both had injuries in 2013. I saw Robinson play several snaps on the outside. They weren’t good. He’s athletically gifted, he’s just not a good corner.

        • David Mallow

          when the injuries occurred, Prater and Sherels played most of the snaps outside…Robinson did play a little, but mostly remained as the slot guy through the entire season..again, not saying he’s a great corner, but hes got alot of talent and I believe in a press man coverage system he will improve dramatically… don’t sleep on his abilities

  • Bob T

    I think the bottom line is we trust Gray, Edwards and Zim to retrain and get rid of bad habits at the corner position. If you are worried about depth at slot corner, I would suggest Sherels. He puts his hands on and makes tackles. Flowers has been available since the 13th, and hasn’t signed. Suspect he will end up a Charger, but it doesn’t look like the Vikings want him. There must be a good reason.

  • kyle

    This is unrelated, but Flowers just signed with the Chargers, so for those of you who were hoping he’d come to minnesota , your dreams have been crushed. He was released from a team that runs a similar press scheme that Zimmer runs and never was a press corner. Very good zone corner (like Alteraun Verner) who went to a team that heavily relies on zone coverage.