Vikings rookie CB Jeff Gladney is exceeding expectations

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Jeff Gladney
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Jeff Gladney /

Minnesota Vikings first-round pick Jeff Gladney is shattering early expectations.

With their second pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected former TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney.

Gladney was off to an understandably quiet start this season with the Vikings, but he has turned things around in a hurry. He is playing well above early expectations, especially considering his position.

Cornerback is arguably the most difficult position to play in the NFL, especially for rookies. This year’s rookie class did not get a preseason to get their feet under them and that showed up early in the season as they earned their first reps in meaningful moments.

Jeff Gladney progressing well in first season with Minnesota Vikings

Gladney displayed some early struggles this year. But his first career game was against the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, who is not an easy task for any defensive back.

After settling in following a slow start though, Gladney is exceeding expectations midway through his first NFL season. Even as a first-round pick, rookie expectations for a cornerback should always be cautious because the transition to the NFL is not an easy one.

The thing that is apparent already with Gladney is his willingness to come down and tackle near the line of scrimmage. His ability to attack as a run defender and blow up screen passes on the perimeter has helped turn around Minnesota’s early defensive concerns. He loves impacting the game however he is asked to do it, and he does it quite often.

As a coverage man, Gladney hardly ever gets beat down the field. He allows a handful of catches a game, but they result in minimal gains. During the Vikings’ Week 10 win over the Chicago Bears, Gladney helped limit Allen Robinson to just six catches for 43 yards.

Mike Hughes has battled injuries for the better part of his career, but Gladney has filled in very nicely as the nickel corner. The rookie is making a positive impact on Minnesota’s passing defense and in the unit’s ability to stop the run, proving to be one of the best-tackling corners in the league. The Vikings should be very pleased with Gladney’s progression early in his career.