The Vikings cornerback group took a major hit in the 2020 offseason. First, the team cut Xavier Rhodes and then lost both Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander in free agency. While it can be argued that Rhodes’s departure was addition by subtraction, losing three veteran leaders was definitely a blow to this position, that wasn’t all that great in 2019, to begin with.
These losses thrust young Mike Hughes and Holton Hill into starting roles. Jeff Gladney was taken in the first round to compete to start or be the nickel, and second-year man, Kris Boyd, and another rookie, Cameron Dantzler round out the depth.
While this group is young and lacks experience, they also have plenty of positives going for them. First of all, is that youth. Sure, they won’t be as quick to diagnose plays as the grizzled veterans, but they are chock full of energy and driven to establish themselves as quality NFL players. They also won’t be stuck in bad habits. Xavier Rhodes was a mess towards the end of his run and kept repeating the same mistakes. These young players are raw pieces that the coaches can mold to their liking.
These young players also have different skill sets. Mike Hughes and Jeff Gladney are aggressive corners who, despite lacking ideal size. are excellent at making plays on the ball when it’s in the air. Dantzler is sticky in coverage and both he and Hill have the size to match up with bigger receivers.
This group will no doubt suffer some growing pains, but have the talent and desire to jell together and potentially be a stronger unit than the Vikings fielded a season ago.