Vikings Pick S/CB Antone Exum—How Does He Help the Defense?

Jared Wickerham

Safety/Cornerback Antone Exum from Virginia Tech is the newest Minnesota Viking. What can he do to help the defense? Hit.

Antone Exum was another target I outlined earlier today, and I love the pick.

Exum is another strong CB, but he is imposing in a way Reynolds can never be. He's built like a small linebacker and he plays that way, with a lot of violence. His 2012 tape was phenomenal, but an injury derailed his ability to enter the draft and impacted his film this year. But he's fully healed now and a top player that can player either CB or Safety. At 6'0″ with 32″ arms, he's incredibly fluid, with good transition skills and experience in man and zone coverage.

In man coverage, he reads the WR well and knows when to get his head turned around, while in zone coverage he does a great job reading the quarterback's eyes and breaking on the ball. He's stellar in run support and plays it like a linebacker.

He's a bit too physical downfield and will get called for interference and his agility isn't the greatest, but at least he knows how to use his body and stay in position. His aggressiveness also translates to how quickly he attempts to jump routes. While this helps him, it does lead to some blown coverages.

There's a better chance he becomes a safety than a CB because he needs a little bit of lead time to track down the ball in the air, but breaks on it well.

He also hits very, very hard.

Like almost everyone that the Vikings have picked so far, he's a fluid athlete in transition with good hips who can play with suddenness in zone. His length had to be tantalizing to the Vikings because his long arms (31 5/8") add to a broad frame that gives him one of the best wingspans in the draft (78 1/4").

He uses those long arms well, wrapping up a lot better for most of his tackles than most people who are known for their hitting. He might want to shed some weight to give him more flexibility and dynamicism. Once he makes a false step, it's a little difficult for him to recover.

If the Vikings are fine with how his knees checked out, he can still play cornerback but the ability to turn on a dime will be the biggest question in regards to that, and his explosion will be significant, too. I think the fact that he plays much better witht he play in front of him and that he tends to get his back turned to the quarterback in man coverage means he projects better as a safety.

Should he crack the roster and jump up the chart, he could be a potential hard-hitting safety to pair with Harrison Smith or a nightmare physical corner to pair with Rhodes.

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