After parting ways with all three of their starting corners from the 2022 season, the Minnesota Vikings are solving the position by competition.
However, Williams’ spot may be up for grabs.
Purple Insider’s Matthew Coller observed during the team’s first padded practice on July 31 that the Vikings “weren’t very thrilled” with Williams and put in third-round rookie Mekhi Blackmon.
“When they were doing a red-zone drill. It seemed like, from my view, they weren’t very thrilled with Joejuan Williams and how he was handling that drill, so Mekhi Blackmon went in and took a bunch of first-team reps,” Coller said on the “Purple Insider” podcast.
Blackmon’s seizing the first-team reps could be all part of the Vikings’ plan, according to Coller.
“I have wondered if Joejuan Williams is the Jesse Davis of the program,” Coller said, referring to the veteran guard who took first-team reps in training camp last year before second-round rookie Ed Ingram won the starting job, prompting Minnesota to trade Davis to the Pittsburgh Steelers near the end of training camp.
“It might be the same with Joejuan Williams: They brought him in, he’s the veteran, they give him the first-team reps, but they really want Mekhi Blackmon to beat him out,” Coller said.
Blackmon, 24, was considered a bit of a reach for the Vikings. But his strengths are an ideal fit for Brian Flores’ scheme. If Blackmon can grasp what Flores asks of him, he has the fast track to be a Day 1 starter as one of Flores’ picks in this year’s draft.
“I think they drafted Mekhi Blackmon to start on this defense. … There is a pretty good chance as it goes along that we see more and more of Mekhi Blackmon starting over Joejuan Williams,” said Coller, who proved prophetic as Blackmon saw more first-team reps on August 1. “This is a guy Brian Flores wanted. They were very excited about him when they drafted him.”
While Blackmon may be rising to the expectations of the new regime, Williams, at 6-foot-3, is a physical corner who could still be salvageable with Flores. He struggled to stay on the field in New England and will have to prove his worth with Blackmon pushing for a starting spot.
Andrew Booth Jr. Appears to Be the Odd Man Out in Vikings CB Camp Battle
That leaves 2022 second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr. behind expectations of him competing for a starting spot. An uber-aggressive corner with a penchant for press coverage, Booth struggled with durability in college. Those injury woes followed him his rookie year when he suffered a season-ending knee injury last November.
On July 27, Booth walked off the field with a team trainer, ailing from an undisclosed injury.
Injury Update From Vikings Training Camp
The ramped-up intensity of the first few days of padded led to three injuries on Thursday, with Booth being among the injured trio.
Wide receiver Jalen Nailor did not practice with a leg injury he suffered last week and is considered day-to-day.