Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings take Virginia cornerback

Posted by: under Vikings, Lions, NFL draft, Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier, Antoine Winfield, Brad Childress, Cedric Griffin, Leslie Frazier Updated: April 23, 2010 - 6:09 PM

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen was sitting there. So were safety Taylor Mays and defensive tackle Brian Price.

But in the end, the Vikings passed on them all. A day after trading their first-round pick to Detroit, the Vikings used the second-round selection they acquired from the Lions to take Virginia cornerback Chris Cook with the 34th pick in the NFL draft on Friday. The Vikings made the selection after St. Louis opened the second round by selecting Indiana offensive tackle Rodger Saffold.

There had been talk leading up to the start of the second round that the Rams and Vikings were among the teams fielding offers for their selections. But Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman and coach Brad Childress must not have liked what they heard.

Cook worked out for Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier after the combine. The 6-2, 212-pound Cook has good size and is a tough player.

There is some question about whether Cook ultimately will play safety in the NFL, but he seems to fit the Vikings mold for cornerbacks: a player who isn't afraid to be physical and can help in run support. Most people expected the Vikings would take a corner with one of their first few picks.

Spielman said late Thursday the team still had four players on the board that they felt comfortable with at that pick and they settled on Cook. Reports out of New York indicated the Vikings would have taken Boise State corner Kyle Wilson but the Jets landed him with the 29th selection. The Vikings then traded the 30th pick. Minnesota was hoping that Florida State corner Patrick Robinson would slide to them at 34 but that did not happen as the Saints took him.

The Vikings now have seven cornerbacks on their roster, including Cedric Griffin, Antoine Winfield, Benny Sapp, Asher Allen, DeAndre Wright and the newly signed Lito Sheppard. Griffin (knee) and Winfield (foot) are coming off injuries and it's not certain when Griffin will return in 2010.

Pro Football Weekly wrote of Cook in its draft guide: "Lanky, long-levered corner who fared well at the Senior Bowl and showed some explosion in drills at the Combine. Has safety size but is not aggressive or physical, so best chance in the pros will come at cornerback. His rare size in a league where receivers keep getting bigger will drive up his value." 
 
Cook started 31 of 38 games at Virginia, finishing with 143 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 19 pass breakups and seven interceptions. He returned five kickoffs for 101 yards.

The thing that stands out on Cook's resume is that he was suspended for 2008 due to academic issues. He rebounded in 2009 to be named an All-ACC first-team selection by the NFL draft report.

Cook started all 12 games at left corner and had 40 tackles (34 solo), including one stop for a 3-yard loss. He also had a team-high four interception and one touchdown. He deflected six passes, including four on third down and made 25 tackles after receptions for 300 yards. 

Cook played five games as a true freshman in 2005 with one start before missing the second half of the season because of a broken leg. He plaeyd free safety and cornerback that year.

He rebounded to play in all 12 games in 2006 and started the final 11 at right cornerback. Cook had 58 tackles (46 solo) and had four tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He also deflected five passes and recorded one interception.

In 2007, he sprained his left knee against Middle Tennessee and missed two games and then was ineligible for the Gator Bowl. That began his academic issues. Cook had started seven of nine games.

Note: We will be talking to Vikings officials and Cook later and pass along their thoughts.

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