Outside Corner No. 1
While some teams went into the 2020 NFL Draft looking for long-term projects who may not produce right away, the Vikings went in the opposite direction. After losing three starters, Minnesota went to work finding young talent that could contribute from Day 1 and it started by using the 30th overall pick on former TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney.
Gladney is a guy that many have labeled a “Mike Zimmer player.” While Xavier Rhodes made it a trademark of marching to the injury tent every time he gave up a reception last season, Gladney worked out at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine with a torn meniscus. Long story short, there should be no question about toughness here.
But Gladney is also a gifted athlete to boot. Even with the injury, he still blazed a 4.48-second time in the 40-yard dash. He also is sticky on the field in pass coverage, with Pro Football Focus charting 78 percent of Gladney’s targets 10 or more yards downfield as “tight coverage” last season at TCU.
As we enter this season, we know that Gladney is going to see the field. The bigger question is where will he play?
To start the season, there’s a good chance that Gladney will begin his career on the outside. It’s the position he played the most at TCU and with COVID-19 wiping out all of the Vikings’ offseason activities, it will be a faster transition to get him on the field and up to speed.
However, as he gets more comfortable, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him lineup in the slot. At 5-foot-10 and 191 pounds, Gladney weighs just one pound more than Mackensie Alexander, who played in the slot the past two seasons for Minnesota. With rookies usually needing time to develop, the best choice is to play to Gladney’s strengths and teach him new tricks as needed.