The Vikings Are Ridiculously Young at Cornerback



Earlier this week, the Minnesota Vikings made the decision to waive CB John Reid. Reid, 27, was one of the few veteran players in the cornerback room, and even calling him a veteran is a bit of a stretch considering he’s played just three NFL seasons to this point in his career, making only four starts.

However, the release of Reid is notable simply because of how ridiculously young the Vikings are at cornerback, and it only becomes more notable now that he is gone. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

ridiculously young
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

First and foremost, in terms of NFL longitude, there are now only three players in the room who have played multiple seasons. Byron Murphy and Joejuan Williams each have four seasons under their belt heading into training camp. The only other player with multiple seasons played at the NFL level is Tay Gowan, a 2021 sixth-round pick who has appeared in 44 defensive snaps during his first two seasons.

That means that, of Minnesota’s 10 corners (qualifying Jay Ward as a safety), seven of them have either one or zero seasons in the NFL. Those players are:

  • Kalon Barnes (1)
  • Andrew Booth (1)
  • Akayleb Evans (1)
  • Mekhi Blackmon (0)
  • C.J. Coldon (0)
  • Najee Thompson (0)
  • Jaylin Williams (0)
Sep 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (7) celebrates after scoring on a 59-yard fumble recovery in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Even with that in mind, things get even crazier in the Vikings secondary. If we look at career starts, Akayleb Evans is the second-longest tenured starter on an NFL defense. Yes, the 2022 fourth-round pick who filled in for two games because of injuries and played just 23% of the defensive snaps over the 10 games he appeared in. We’re talking about that guy.

In fact, outside of Byron Murphy, there are a total of four starts among the other nine Vikings CBs at the NFL level, less than a quarter of a full NFL schedule. Here is a look at the room’s entire starting experience:

  • Byron Murphy (48 starts)
  • Akayleb Evans (2 starts)
  • Andrew Booth (1 start)
  • Joejuan Williams (1 start)
  • Kalon Barnes (0 starts)
  • Mekhi Blackmon (0 starts)
  • C.J. Coldon (0 starts)
  • Tay Gowan (0 starts)
  • Najee Thompson (0 starts)
  • Jaylin Williams (0 starts)

For reference, even during the franchise’s second year of existence back in 1962, the Vikings had two corners with at least 26 games of starting experience going into that season: Dean Derby and Tom Franckhauser.

Vikings CB
Jan 1, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baylor Bears cornerback Kalon Barnes (12) reacts to making a play against the Mississippi Rebels in the third quarter of the 2022 Sugar Bowl at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t necessarily a reason to panic, though. Despite the inexperience, Minnesota has used quality draft capital to bring in many of these young players, particularly the ones that will be competing for a starting spot. Booth was a 2022 second-round pick, Blackmon was a 2023 third-round pick, and while Evans was only a fourth-round pick, he played well in his limited appearances. Williams is a former second-round pick in the 2019 Draft as well.

As far as scheme goes, too, it shouldn’t be too difficult for the young corners to learn either considering Brian Flores’ aggressive defensive plans typically put players in man coverage. It simply is a matter of whether or not they will able to keep up, and considering the draft capital used on the players in the room, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

However, it can’t be overlooked that, considering Minnesota has a pair of roster spots open right now, they could look to make another veteran acquisition at corner. If nothing else, that could be a player to help lead the young guys as a voice in the locker room and on the sideline.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.





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