This is the seventh in a series of position previews for the 2020 NFL draft, which runs April 23-25. cornerbacks. Read them all here.
Three names to know
CB Kristian Fulton, LSU: He’s a physical corner whose size would make him a natural fit for what the Vikings want to do, though there are questions about his ability to track the ball and make plays downfield. He was suspended for all of 2017 for providing a false specimen for a performance-enhancing drug test. Playing against the nation’s toughest competition, he showed he can be physical with receivers and also handle himself in off coverage.
CB Jeff Gladney, TCU: Though the 5-10 Gladney isn’t quite as big as Fulton, his tenacity and flexibility in coverage might make him an attractive candidate for the Vikings in the first two rounds. He can play outside or in the nickel, though some teams might see him as a slot cornerback, and seems as if he’d have the versatility and the temperament to shadow receivers across the field in the NFL. He showed he can make plays on the ball in college and led the Big 12 with 14 pass breakups last season.
CB Jaylon Johnson, Utah: He had shoulder surgery this spring, and will have to show teams he’s healthy despite not being able to meet with them in person, but he is another press corner whose physical style could translate well to the Vikings’ defense. Johnson also is skilled at making plays on the ball, and that skill could help him make an effective transition to the NFL while he learns the nuances of handling receivers.
CB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech: Though size concerns about the 5-9 cornerback will keep some teams from taking him at the top of the draft, he showed in college he can handle bigger receivers with his aggressive cover skills, good footwork and natural feel for the position. The Vikings spent some time with Robertson before the draft, and though he’d likely be a nickel corner for them, he could be an attractive pick if he’s still on the board at the end of the third round.
The Vikings’ secondary will look markedly different in 2020, with three of their recent high picks — 2013 first-rounder Xavier Rhodes, 2015 first-rounder Trae Waynes and 2016 second-rounder Mackensie Alexander — all on other teams. Mike Hughes, their 2018 first-rounder, is returning from a broken vertebra in his neck; at the moment, he’ll be expected to lead the cornerback group with Holton Hill and Kris Boyd on the roster. The team placed a franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris, but could look to trade him if they’re unable to agree to a long-term deal.
Level of need
High: The Vikings badly need cover corners, and as much grief as coach Mike Zimmer has received in past years about the team taking too many cornerbacks too high in the draft, it makes sense for the team to draft at least one in the first two rounds this year. The Vikings could also look at a safety if they end up dealing Harris; they’ll still have Harrison Smith on the roster but would need another starter to play next to him.