The Vikings didn't make a play for a defensive back until the draft almost began. That's when they signed Lito Sheppard. Then they promptly selected Chris Cook with their first pick in the draft, number 34. Now when you look back at the cornerbacks on the Vikings roster you'll see a lot of new faces.
The 49ers signed away Karl Paymah, just another move that changed the position that made the Vikings rank in the bottom half of the league in pass defense for the past two years, 19th last year and 18th in 2008. No longer is Antoine Winfield a stud. Teams are no longer afraid of throwing into tight spaces against the Vikings. Can they become better as a group? Let's break it down.
The main thing with our old corners is their age and injuries. Against the Saints in the NFC Championship game overtime kickoff, Cedric Griffin tore his ACL. He might not be ready for the 2010-2011 season's beginning. When healthy he is a decent and aggressive corner. Remember he was our main playmaker last year so if he doesn't come back from his torn ACL and play like he did last year, we need someone else to step up.
Winfield is getting up there in age and suffered many injuries last season. When healthy he can be a shut down corner and I don't expect him to be moved to safety. This guy was once my favorite Viking's player and I think, if he regains his old form, the Vikings pass defense will prosper.
Asher Allen didn't see much playing time in 2009. When he was playing he recorded one interception. The Viking's 2009 3rd rounder has a lot of potential. What he lacks in size (he's 5-9) he makes up for with speed and strength. While his playing time will increase in 2010 he will probably not be a starter.
The Vikings were expected to draft a corner early in the draft and they certainly did. The 34th pick in the NFL draft the Vikings selected Chris Cook. While the pick wasn't extremely popular it added some much needed size to our CB position. At 6-2 he is now the tallest corner on our team. He showed great tackling ability at Virginia but little to no playmaking ability.
The Vikings also signed free agent Lito Sheppard this offseason from the Jets. He has shied away from tackling his whole career but has shown great playmaking ability which is showcased by his 19 career interceptions. He has stated that he came to the Vikings becuase he thought he would have a good chance of being a starter. Unfortunately for Lito I doubt that will be the case.
All in all I think the Vikings won't finish in the bottom half of the league in pass defense next year but at the same time they won't be great. Chris Cook can be a great NFL player and I think he will immediately start alongside Winfield. I doubt Griffin will be ready to begin the season. My prediction for the Vikings rank for pass defense is 10th to 12th overall.
Corner Rankings (To begin the season)
1. Antoine Winfield
2. Chris Cook
3. Lito Sheppard
4. Asher Allen
5. Cedric Griffin (This is his ranking for when the season begins, not his actual rank)
6. Benny Sapp (Now you see why I didn't even write about him)
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