The Minnesota Vikings‘ top cornerback in 2020, Cameron Dantzler, has fallen from grace.
Dantzler was a healthy scratch in Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
49ers cornerback Jason Verrett suffered an ACL tear, which spurred the 49ers to hitting the phones for cornerback talent on Monday.
“A source said the 49ers also inquired about a potential trade for second-year Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler, who was a healthy scratch in Minnesota’s season opener at Cincinnati,” Lombardi wrote.
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Dantzler garnering the interest of another team this early in his career is no surprise. The Mississippi State product took his bumps and bruises his rookie year but was the NFL’s top-graded corner by Pro Football Focus (PFF) across a span of seven weeks last season, producing a 31.1 quarterback rating when targeted.
He finished the year as the second-highest graded rookie cornerback despite being the 11th cornerback off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft.
PFF’s Sam Monson picked Dantzler as the Vikings’ 2021 breakout player in January. From Monson:
Only two rookie cornerbacks ended the season with a PFF grade above 70.0, and Cameron Dantzler was one of them. Dantzler’s rookie year wasn’t without growing pains, but he had two single-game PFF coverage grades above 90.0 and two performances in which he allowed five or fewer receiving yards.
He was always a talented playmaker but slid in the draft due to concerns about his size and speed. Dantzler showed in Year 1 he can still cover at a high level, and with a jump in Year 2, he could have a huge season within a defense badly in need of a top cover guy in the secondary.
Dantzler has been in a funk throughout the preseason after the Vikings brought in a bevy of veteran talent.
Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander and Bashaud Breeland were the starting cornerback trio in the season opener, which will likely go unchanged in Week 2. Third-year corner Kris Boyd and 2020 fifth-rounder Harrison Hand also surpassed Dantzler for a role on Sunday.
However, the Vikings are still high on Dantzler.
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Dantzler Needs to Compete
Co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson addressed Dantzler’s slide down the depth chart on KFAN on Monday.
“You’ve got to go out there and play well to be on the field… Right now the guys in front of him are playing better than him,” Patterson said, per Sean Borman. It comes down to being competitive you can’t compete in practice and you’re not competitive in practice then you’re not going to be able to go out and play in the games. The good part of it is he can fix it. He’s talented enough, it’s just a matter of him going out and fixing it.”
Patterson’s comments indicate Dantzler will have to prove his worth in practice or pick up a special teams role before he can dress again on Sunday.