When the Minnesota Vikings drafted USC cornerback Mekhi Blackmon late in the third round, the immediate reaction from the fanbase seemed to be a bit mixed. Make no mistake, the Minnesota Vikings desperately needed a cornerback, and Blackmon fills that need. However, the consensus amongst the fanbase seemed to be that the Vikings reached for a player that some draft analysts had a 5th to 6th round grade on.
I was admittedly bummed when the Vikings decided to draft Mekhi Blackmon over Kelee Ringo, who seemed like the ultimate Kwesi pick. Once I started to learn more about what Blackmon can bring to Brian Flores’ defense, I understood why the Vikings are head over heels for this guy. Let me tell you, I’m starting to fall in love with this pick too. I legitimately think Mekhi Blackmon is poised to be a starter this season.
The thing I love about Blackmon is that he can play both in the slot but on the perimeter as well. Not only that, but his ability to play both in man and zone coverage at an exceptionally high level makes him an extremely valuable chess piece for Brian Flores. When you run a defense that runs a lot of Cover 1 and Cover 0, you need cornerbacks who can line up anywhere on the field. Blackmon fits into that mold.
I think Brian Flores values versatility above all else, which is why Blackmon may have the upper hand against a player like Akayleb Evans. While Evans showed a lot of promise last season, he is purely a boundary corner, whereas Murphy and Blackmon have a significant amount of experience playing in the slot. That should give Blackmon the edge against Akayleb Evans in training camp. I expect Akayleb Evans to be the Vikings backup boundary corner rather than a full-time starter.
Then there’s Andrew Booth Jr. who the Vikings traded up for in the second round. You have to think that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is going to want his 2nd round cornerback from last year to start on the outside alongside Byron Murphy. Another important thing to consider here is that some scouts believed that Andrew Booth Jr. could project to be an inside/outside player entering the NFL because of his ball skills and quickness.
#Vikings fans shouldn't sleep on Andrew Booth Jr. He's still a former 5 star prospect who played WR and CB, and projects to contribute on the outside and in the slot. Minnesota now has three starting cornerbacks (Murphy, Booth, Blackmon) that have inside/outside versatility. https://t.co/ZtamOtUCPF— Tyler Ireland (@TylerIrelandNFL) April 30, 2023
If the Vikings were to start Murphy, Booth, and Blackmon, that means all three of their starting cornerbacks would have the ability to start both inside and outside. That kind of versatility may be too good for Brian Flores to pass up on. So don’t be surprised if Mekhi Blackmon earns a starting job as a rookie.