Antone Exum Is One to Watch As Vikings Sort Out Secondary


If you had to predict today who will end up starting at safety alongside Harrison Smith this season, then Robert Blanton would have to be your man. Blanton has been getting the bulk of the first team reps so far and he has a full season of experience as a starter under his belt.

As competent as Blanton was last year however, his overall game is a little bit underwhelming, which leads one to believe the Vikings are open to someone else rising up and taking that spot. When everything shakes out, 2014 draft pick Antone Exum and not Blanton could actually be the one lining up alongside Smith.

Vikings DBs coach Jerry Gray spoke about the safety situation with KFAN’s Paul Allen and dropped some interesting info about where Exum stands going into his second year:

"Last year I thought he was still going through that knee injury that he suffered when he was at Virginia Tech as a sophomore. People tend to forget that he was one of the top corners in college football, then he tore his knee up that December and he never really got back. So we saw a guy who was kind of limping around, trying to figure out how to get through. This year he looks like he looked when he was a sophomore at Virginia Tech, and he’s about that quick and that fast and he’s about 220 pounds so we’re talking about a guy who moved from corner to safety who has corner athletic ability. If he can get where he played at Virgina Tech with the type of game that we know he can get to he’ll be really really good for us this year."

Concerns about Exum’s health caused him to fall all the way to the 6th round last year. The Vikings brought him in and gave him snaps mainly on special teams, where he showed plenty of fight if not always a ton of discipline, getting fined for an illegal block in the Green Bay game and deactivated for the Redskins game after committing one holding penalty too many.

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Exum was never really seriously in the mix at safety last year, but it sounds like he is very much in the mix this year. His athleticism and coverage ability might make him a solid alternative to the fairly generic Blanton, who despite good grades on Pro Football Focus found himself being benched late in 2014 as Mike Zimmer searched for a safety with a little more ballhawking ability and physicality.

Next: Will Vikings make run at Evan Mathis?

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