Vikings coach Brad Childress and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman made one thing very clear shortly after selecting Virginia's Chris Cook in the second round of the NFL draft a week ago Friday: They had no intention of converting the college cornerback to safety.
Cook might be big enough to play safety (6-2, 212 pounds) but the Vikings like him at corner. According to Pro Football Weekly, Cook is not aggressive or physical enough to play safety in the NFL but his size will be a plus at corner because wide receiveres are so big these days.
Interestingly, Cook said Friday after his first day of rookie camp at Winter Park that he would have been all right with the change. "I was pretty much open to anything," he said. "If a team wanted to move me to safety I was more than willing to make that transition. I just want to help the Vikings win games."
Cook, the Vikings' top choice in the draft, should get his chance. He will be expected to contribute on special teams as a rookie and could have a chance to see playing time on defense, depending on what he can show the team in offseason practices and training camp.
"Provided that he can do everything that a corner has to do in this league, there is no down side to being bigger in stature," Childress said. "You don’t get bodied when the ball goes down the field playing against a guy like the one from Detroit [Calvin Johnson, who is 6-5, 236 pounds]. There are receivers with length and at that time it is nice to have a corner with length. All things being equal there is no downside to that."
With Cedric Griffin expected to still be recovering from a torn ACL at the start of training camp and probably into the regular season, the expectation will be that veterans Antoine Winfield and Lito Sheppard will end up starting at the corner spots. Benny Sapp and Asher Allen figure to battle for the role in the nickel but nothing will stop Cook from being in the mix.
Cook said he did not play inside in the nickel much in college, but if he can impress the Vikings could adjust by moving Winfield inside on passing downs and having Cook play outside. Cook did say the Vikings' base scheme of a Tampa-2 defense is perfect for him.
Q. What do you have to do to make it at this level?
A. "Just improve myself every day. Just work on the small things. It's the small things that make good players great, and I want to be a great player so I'm working on the small things every day."
Q. What's going to be the toughest adjustment?