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.


Cook would have moved to safety

Posted by: under Vikings, NFL draft, Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier, Antoine Winfield, Brad Childress, Cedric Griffin, Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier, Vikings draft Updated: May 1, 2010 - 4:03 PM

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.

"I definitely do [feel it's a good fit] because my college scheme was a Cover-2 so jumping into this is just like going back to what I was doing before," he said. "Cover-2. That's me in a nutshell."
 
Here's a few more questions and answers from Cook:

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?

A. "I say the competition every week. From week to week. You've got the best guys on every level at every position and that's going to be the biggest adjustment. Just having everybody on the same skill level."
 
Q. How valuable will it be to learn from Winfield?
 
A. "It's very valuable. I'm looking forward to doing that. Those guys are all veterans and are all very good corners and I can't wait to learn from those guys and take their advice."
 
Q. What's the biggest thing you took away from your conversation with Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier when he visited with you for a day in March?
 
A. "That he just wanted good guys on the team. Good guys that are good football players and guys that can come in and contribute. I feel like he felt like I was a good guy, as well as a good football player. I feel like he felt that I could come in and contribute early."
 
Q. What will it be like to get the opportunity to work with the veterans when they get out here?
 
A. "Getting out there with those guys, it's like you're part of the team. I hate to say it but not everybody here is going to be a Viking. Once May hits then I know I'm a Viking. That's going to be exciting learning from veteran guys. Being out there with guys like Jared Allen and Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin. I can't wait to play with those guys."
 
Q. How important was your performance at the Senior Bowl?
 
A. "I feel like that helped me a lot. Just showing guys that me being a big guy at the corner spot doesn't really hurt me. I can move just as well as other guys. I feel like my Senior Bowl performance helped me a lot."
 

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