5 lively outsiders for the Minnesota Vikings first-round pick in 2023

(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) Siaki Ika
(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) Siaki Ika /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports) Devon Witherspoon /

Devon Witherspoon – CB (Illinois)

Finding consistency at the cornerback spot proved difficult once again for the Minnesota Vikings in 2022. Injury problems to second-round selection Andrew Booth Jr. didn’t help, but the unit overall just wasn’t good enough despite some encouraging performances from Cameron Dantzler.

Patrick Peterson is out of contract and might seek one final opportunity to legitimately contend for a Super Bowl in free agency. Therefore, spending a high-end draft pick on one of the more elite defensive backs is going to be discussed.

The Vikings have plenty of options within a cornerback class that looks especially deep at the top end. One player going relatively under the radar is Devon Witherspoon, who demonstrated the traits normally associated with shutdown players at the position throughout a glittering spell with Illinois.

Once an unheralded high school hopeful, Witherspoon quickly emerged as one of college football’s premier corners thanks to his exciting blend of length and speed. His footwork is exceptional and the player has enough strength to thrive in press coverage against even the most physical wide receivers.

Couple this with eye-popping footwork and strength in run support, and Witherspoon has a huge ceiling once he gets to the next level. Something that the Vikings might find too tempting to ignore when push comes to shove.