Vikings third-round cornerback Cam Dantzler just earned major props from the team’s top wide receiver in Adam Thielen.
Getting his hands on Thielen at the line of scrimmage, Dantzler slowed the Pro Bowl wideout, went stride for stride and then used his 6-foot-2 frame to extend and break up a pass in the Vikings first full-padded team practice on Monday.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 17, 2020
Mike Zimmer was asked about Dantzler in an interview after practice and instead of leaning on the typical coaching mantras to keep morale high and players confident during camp, Zimmer instead shared Thielen’s co-sign of the rookie corner.
“We like him a lot on tape,” Zimmer said of Dantzler. “Adam Thielen came up to me during practice today and said ’27’s gonna be really good.’ He’s got long arms, he’s got good length.”
Pro Football Focus senior analyst Sam Monson couldn’t help but get in on the training camp hype bandwagon as well, tweeting “Dude can cover. I am officially one of the training camp overreaction people I was feeling left out. That’s a well-thrown pass too. Needed the perfect play.”
Dantzler met Monson with an even more encouraging response.
Ppl still don’t respect it…. got to tap in a different level !!! https://t.co/bjmlHUjFj5
— Cam Dantzler (@camdantzler3) August 17, 2020
Coming out of Mississippi State, Dantzler may have been drafted as one of the top cornerback prospects in his class had it not been for a poor 40-time at the NFL Combine. He later re-ran an unofficial 40-yard dash and clocked a 4.38, and his breakup against Thielen showed he could keep pace with NFL receivers.
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Cameron Dantzler’s Unbelievable Stats
Dantzler faced some of the toughest competition in the SEC and happened to not just get by — but thrive.
The slender cornerback nicknamed “The Needle” allowed just 60 yards against his coverage in one game of his entire college career. He held college football’s best wide receiver in LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase to just two catches and 13 yards — the Fred Biletnikoff’s lowest catch rate and yardage output all last season.
But most impressive of all is his allowed passer rating in the final two years of his college career of 43.6. For reference, a perfect passer rating is 158.3 and the league’s leading quarterback in passer rating was Ryan Tannehill 117.5.
Dantzler’s 43.6 passer rating offers up the possibility of a better outcome if the opposing quarterback just spiked the ball instead of throwing it his way.
Cameron Dantzler's passer rating when targeted his last 2 years of college was 43.6
— PFF MIN Vikings (@PFF_Vikings) July 13, 2020
Gaining Steam For Starting In 2020
Dantzler likely won’t be promoted to the starting cornerback group after just one play, but it did gain him some points in Zimmer’s book.
Mike Hughes, Holton Hill and first-round rookie Jeff Gladney appear to be the speculative top three cornerbacks, while Dantzler and Kris Boyd are behind and could both be involved depending on what combination and arrangement Zimmer chooses to go with.
Gladney returned to practice on Sunday after being out with an injury designation for a few days. He sustained the injury towards the end of his college career as the time off was most likely precautionary.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.