What is the current state of the Vikings cornerback room in 2023?
By Darcy Weiss
Vikings cornerbacks returning for 2023
Andrew Booth Jr.
Andrew Booth Jr. played in only six games, including one start, as a rookie after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee. Head coach Kevin O’Connell has stated that he expects Booth to be limited during the offseason though should be ready to go for training camp.
Booth barely played as a rookie and has the opportunity to prove himself this season in Brian Flores’ defense.
Booth’s main strength – his physical play and ability to win contested balls – is also his biggest weakness, as he was prone to drawing pass interference and holding penalties on his college tape and during his early days in the NFL.
With Flores expecting to ask his corners to play a lot of man, the 22-year-old Booth should get the chance to compete as a starter with Akayleb Evans. He’ll need to show improvement in camp and limit his flags, but if he can do that, it would be a significant boost to the secondary.
Akayleb Evans started two games and played in eight others as a rookie, though he suffered several concussions alocicz.
The team is expecting the Missouri product to compete for a starting job on the outside, and he looks to be poised for lots of playing time in 2023, should his concussion issues be a thing of the past.
He showed promise as a strong tackler, and he made plays in coverage, but he struggled in press coverage and making plays on the ball. That said, Evans is still young and has the potential to develop into a strong perimeter corner.
Tay Gowan was drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Cardinals and he was traded later that season to the Philadelphia Eagles along with a fifth-round draft pick for tight end Zach Ertz.
Gowan was then released by the Eagles the following season before signing to the Vikings practice squad.
Appearing in just three games in 2022 with the Vikings, the 25-year-old did not play a single snap in coverage, and he only has two career tackles. He is competing for a spot on special teams and figures to be a depth piece at best.
Kalon Barnes only appeared on special teams in two games with the Vikings in 2022. Barnes was drafted in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, and he was waived before the season began.
Just two days later, he signed to the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad, Which was where he was poached by the Vikings.
Another depth/practice squad piece, Barnes likely won’t see the field on defense in 2023, but he could make the roster as a special teamer.