This, folks, is why you never stop looking for cornerbacks in the NFL. This is why you draft a first-rounder one year and surprise everybody with a second-rounder the next. This is why you sign Captain Munnerlyn one year and Terence Newman the next.
The Vikings were down three corners before their first joint practice snap against the Bengals in Cincinnati on Wednesday. Starter Newman stayed behind because of an injury. Marcus Sherels, the punt returner and scrappy emergency corner; and young veteran Melvin White, an intriguing, under-the-radar guy with size (6-2, 215), also didn’t make the trip but might join the team before the preseason opener kicks off on Friday.
That left Trae Waynes to work with the first defense. But the oppressive heat claimed the 2015 first-round pick early. He sat out most of the padded practice, which put third-teamer Jabari Price on the field with the starters.
Jabari is a fighter, a 2014 seventh-round overachiever. But he isn’t the best corner in the world. He’s on the roster bubble, but he’s not bad. In fact, he probably would have been good enough to start on the 2013 or 2011 teams.
Since Mike Zimmer came aboard in 2014, he and General Manager Rick Spielman have stepped it up when it comes to appreciating the old NFL adage that a team can never have enough cornerbacks in a quarterback’s league. It’s a wise guideline, especially if you’re in a division that has pitted you against Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers twice a year since 1992.
In the second round of this year’s draft, the Vikings could have gotten away with not taking a cornerback high for one more year. Xavier Rhodes is one of the better, bigger corners in the league. Newman has shown no signs of NFL old age, and Munnerlyn has another year on his contract.
But the Vikings stepped up with the 54th overall pick and took Mackensie Alexander, a talented, confident young man who’s pushing Munnerlyn and himself. Wednesday, Alexander got a lot of action behind Munnerlyn and came away with an interception that reportedly was one of the highlights of the day.
With Zimmer and Spielman working together, the Vikings in two-plus years have signed Munnerlyn and Newman, and drafted Waynes, Alexander and Price.
With Newman, Rhodes, Munnerlyn, Alexander and probably two more corners making the final roster, the Vikings are a long way from reaching the kind of emergency situation they faced a few years back when they had to sign Benny Sapp off the street during the season.