Vikings Re-Sign ‘Hidden Gem’ Defensive Back, 7 Others

Mike Zimmer

Getty The Vikings brass faces high stakes with selecting a new offensive coordinator.

Late in September, the Minnesota Vikings made a move to poach former undrafted Dallas Cowboys rookie Luther Kirk IV off his former team’s practice squad.

Kirk obliged, and joined the Vikings, replacing second-year defensive back Nate Meadors as an option both cornerback and safety.

Minnesota doubled down on Kirk, signing the Illinois State product and seven other Vikings to futures contracts, reserved for bubble players who normally receive minimum deals that count toward the 90-man training camp roster.

Practice-squad quarterbacks Nate Stanley and Jake Browning both agreed to futures contracts along with cornerbacks Cordrea Tankersley and Tae Hayes, tackle Blake Brandel, fullback Jake Bargas, tight end Brandon Dillon and offensive lineman Zack Bailey.

Chris Tomasson reported that “practice-squad players not expected to sign futures deals include offensive lineman Aviante Collins, defensive end Eddie Yarbrough and defensive tackle Abdullah Anderson.”

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Kirk Touted as a ‘Hidden Gem’ Out of College

Luther Kirk

GettyLuther Kirk IV (34) was the defensive MVP of the Shrine Bowl last year.

Projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Kirk went undrafted and was stashed as a “hidden gem” by the Cowboys.

A former quarterback and defensive back in high school, Kirk moved to safety full time for four seasons at Illinois State.

At 6-foot-2, Kirk’s size made him excel in both stopping the run and defending the pass. Kirk tied for the Missouri Valley Football Conference lead with five interceptions his junior year and added 61 tackles as the Redbirds’ second-leading tackler.

Opposing quarterbacks purposefully avoided throwing Kirk’s direction in his season year, prompting the Garland, Texas, native to become make an impact elsewhere. He posted a career-high 89 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble, and still mucked it up in coverage, deflecting six passes.

One of his lone nationally broadcasted highlights where he put his ball-hawking prowess on display in the East-West Shrine Bowl, albeit it was in an all-star game for seniors.

Kirk earned All-American FCS honors in his senior season to cap a four-year career where he totaled 183 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4.0 tackles for loss, 19 passes defended and five interceptions through 48 games (26 starts).

With Anthony Harris set to reach free agency this offseason, Kirk offers added competition in determining who will start opposite of Harrison Smith in 2021.

The Vikings Are in Need of Depth at Cornerback

Despite hitting on first- and third-round rookie cornerbacks Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler, respectively, Minnesota is still in dire need of more depth at cornerback.

The elder statesmen in the cornerback room this season did not work out as planned.

Mike Hughes went on injured reserve for a third straight year after he was drafted in the first round in 2018 and Holton Hill, who just got out of coach Mike Zimmer’s dog house, was released by the team after suffering a foot injury that landed him on the injured reserve list as well.

Fifth-round rookie Harrison Hand and former Arizona Cardinals cornerback Chris Jones relieved the duo admirably, however, Jones committed several blunders throughout the season that put his future with the team in jeopardy approaching free agency.

The cornerback position should again see plenty of competition in training camp this offseason with the return of Hughes, Kris Boyd and potentially Dylan Mabin, who was signed off the Las Vegas Raiders practice squad and played in the season finale, but has yet to sign a new contract with Minnesota.


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.

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