The Minnesota Vikings cornerbacks room is officially reloaded.
After the exodus of Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander in the 2020 offseason, the Vikings bandaged the unit together with rookies Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney leading the way last season.
Dantzler took his bumps and bruises early in the season but found his form, grading out as the league’s top cornerback through a six-week period late in the season.
However, his spot as a starter may be in jeopardy.
The Vikings signed former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who started in the past two Super Bowls and is “expected to compete for a starting outside cornerback job,” the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson reported.
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Cornerbacks Battle Slated for Training Camp
Breeland became the fifth veteran cornerback signed this offseason after injuries ravaged the group a season ago.
Peterson is a likely lock atop the cornerbacks room after agreeing to a one-year $8 million contract with the Vikings. Alexander, who was brought back to Minnesota this offseason, is the team’s top nickel cornerback.
Meanwhile, Dantzler’s starting spot opposite of Peterson appears to be threatened by Breeland, who has quite the resume under his belt.
Dantzler was graded as the second-best rookie cornerback and No. 22 among 121 graded corners by Pro Football Focus last season. He’s currently the highest-graded corner on the team.
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However, Dantzler did miss five games last season due to COVID-19 and injuries. Durability is one advantage Breeland has over the rookie as he’s played in 101 games and missed just nine in his seven-year career.
Breeland has 14 career interceptions and has produced the second-lowest completion percentage (50.7%) of any defensive back in the league since 2017.
A Possible Resolution
Breeland’s competitiveness and veteran grit are telltale traits that he’s likely not to cede a starting role to Dantzler without a fight.
But there is the possibility coach Mike Zimmer opts to use a rotation of Dantzler, Peterson and Breeland for the majority of snaps.
Peterson has regressed over the past two seasons and doesn’t possess the same speed that made him one of the best press corners in the league. Zimmer has helped other veteran cornerbacks like Terrence Newman adjust to the later stages of their careers by adopting more zone coverage looks.
Dantzler is likely the best bet for taking on opposing No. 1 wide receivers, while Breeland could be used in anticipation for deeper routes where he’s proven to be elite.
Bottom line: the possibilities are endless and a good problem for the Vikings cornerbacks room which includes 2020 fifth-round rookie Harrison Hand, who has impressed at OTAs, Dylan Mabin and possibly Jeff Gladney.
After a year of Zimmer feeling restricted with the talent he had on defense, he should have a field day drawing up the team’s defense this season.