Did Jeff Gladney disappoint during his first year with the Minnesota Vikings?
For as much success that Justin Jefferson had with the Minnesota Vikings during his rookie season, it’s easy for some to forget that the talented receiver wasn’t the only player the team selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
While Jefferson was lighting up the NFL record book, Gladney was one of the few Minnesota defenders that actually appeared in each of the team’s 16 regular-season games.
Should the Minnesota Vikings regret their selection of Jeff Gladney?
One season definitely isn’t enough time for a player to fall into the “bust” category, but one notable online publication has decided to already put this label on Gladney.
Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton recently published an article titled “Jalen Reagor, Isaiah Simmons and NFL Rookie Busts Who Should Shine in Year 2” and Gladney was one of the players included. While the tone of the piece is optimistic, it still seems a little unfair to all of the guys included to already be regarded as draft busts.
Usually, it takes at least two or three seasons before high draft picks are given the label of being a bust. But apparently, a year is all that is needed now to evaluate rookies during their first season in the NFL, especially when it comes during the middle of a pandemic.
Moton described Gladney’s first year in Minnesota as “shaky,” and this is completely fair. While the rookie corner racked up 81 tackles in 2020, he also had a total of 21 missed tackles. Combine this with his pass coverage that resulted in him giving up six touchdowns and there is plenty for the young defensive back to work on this summer before his second season with the Vikings.
Gladney did some have some positives come out of his rookie year with Minnesota though too. His seven tackles for a loss were more than every Vikings defender not named Eric Wilson and he was the only Minnesota cornerback to appear in all 16 of the team’s games during the 2020 season.
Could Gladney actually end up as a bust? Sure, there’s a chance. But there’s also a good chance that he will improve significantly during the upcoming offseason and return to the field in 2021 as one of the top Vikings defenders when it comes to pass coverage and stopping the run.