With cornerback Richard Sherman now residing in San Francisco and safety Kam Chancellor all but officially hanging up his spikes, the “Legion of Boom” of the Seattle Seahawks is no more. They were the benchmark for secondary play in the National Football League for a number of years, but there will now be many groups looking to potentially take over that throne.
According to our friends over at The Ringer, the Minnesota Vikings are one of the favorites to take over that mantle. They’re listed among the favorites to be the NFL’s best secondary not just in 2018, but potentially beyond that as well.
Safety Harrison Smith remains the anchor in the middle, and notched 12 passes defensed and five picks en route to All-Pro honors last year. Smith was deployed deep as well as up in the box and was equally strong against the pass and the run, playing a crucial role in the team’s historically great performance on third downs, for which they gave up a league-low conversion rate of just 25.2 percent (the best mark for any team since at least the 2002 season). Next to Smith, Andrew Sendejo was no slouch, finishing with 52 tackles, two picks, and seven passes defensed.
On the outside, the team’s cornerbacks group is headlined by Xavier Rhodes, who’s already entrenched as one of the league’s best. Last year, the 27-year-old picked off two passes and knocked down another 10, surrendering a paltry 73.2 passer rating in coverage while earning first-team All-Pro honors. Rhodes is flanked by the ageless Terence Newman (one interception, 76.7 passer rating against in 2017), third-year pro Mackensie Alexander (six passes defensed, one pick, 71.1 passer rating against), and Trae Waynes (two interceptions, 83.0 passer rating against), who, entering his fourth year, could be a breakout candidate. Oh, and Minnesota just added first-round corner Mike Hughes to the group. This Vikings secondary may just be getting started.
Rhodes and Smith are both going to be in the fold for a few more years yet, and this season might determine whether or not Waynes gets a long-term deal here in Minnesota. Or the performance of Hughes and/or Alexander could make the Vikings decide that Waynes is expendable. When you want to look at adding to the strength of a team, the selection of Hughes at #30 overall this past April makes sense. Hughes is not only a guy that could potentially contribute now, but he could be a big building block for the future of the Vikings’ defense if any of the other members should have issues.
Are the Vikings a lock to become the next “Legion of Boom?” Of course not, because any number of things could happen over the course of time to prevent that from happening. But, it appears they have at least as good a chance as any other NFL team. For those of us that remember the Vikings’ devastating cornerback duo of Robert Tate and Wasswa Serwanga, this is a pleasant development.