Vikings Steal National Champion Clemson Cornerback From Dolphins

Cordrea Tankersley

Getty The Vikings added 2016 Clemson national champion cornerback Codrea Tankersley off the team's practice squad on Saturday, Dec. 19, ahead of Week 15 against the Chicago Bears.

The Vikings have been scouring free agency to fill the roster with replacements to a depleted cornerbacks group that was missing four players against the Detroit Lions.

On Monday, the Vikings signed Cordrea Tankersley, a third-year cornerback off the Miami Dolphins practice squad who was originally drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Tankersley started 11 games as a rookie, tallying 31 tackles and seven passes deflected in his inaugural season before he suffered a torn ACL in 2018 that kept him out the past two seasons.

Tankersley, who worked to return to his regular form from injury, saw the Dolphins front office vigorously reinforce their cornerback corps by drafting first-round rookie cornerback Noah Igbinoghene and making Byron Jones the league’s highest-paid corner by signing the former Dallas Cowboy to a five-year, $82.5 million contract.

Both talented cornerbacks join Pro Bowler Xavien Howard as Tankersley fell by the wayside before he made his return to an NFL game.

Tankersley was still held in high regard by the Dolphins who hired on former Patriots cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer, who has coached five All-Pro defensive backs in Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Darrelle Revis, Aquib Talib and Devin McCourty.

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The Best Press Corner In His Draft Class

Tankersley played all four years at Clemson, where he won a national championship in 2016. Pro Football Focus ranked him the best press cornerback in his draft class as Tankersley showed a prowess for jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage with his 6-foot-1, 199-pound frame.

Tankersley’s 4.40 40-time, fifth-best in the 2017 draft class, was a bonus as he appeared to be an ideal outside cornerback with the size and speed required to excel at the NFL level. He allowed a 41.2 passer rating in his final two seasons at Clemson. Tankersley was considered a second-round prospect who slid in the draft due to a deep draft class at cornerback.

Tankersley’s rookie season highlight was a broken up pass against the Atlanta Falcons that sealed the game for the Dolphins.

Tankersley’s biggest critique so far in his career has been being too physical and handsy, especially at the top of routes where he dew eight pass interference calls in his senior year of college.


If Tankersley Refines His Game, Who Leaves?

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has been widely regarded as one of the league’s top cornerbacks coaches and has continued to work his magic with an entirely new cornerbacks room this season.

The struggles have been there for the group who are missing third-year cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Holton Hill, rookie Cameron Dantzler and second-year corner Mark Fields II. Dantzler should make a timely return this week against the Chicago Bears, but beyond the third-round rookie, the return for the other three remains in the air.

Zimmer has already integrated former Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Chris Jones, who was signed two weeks ago. Jones proved serviceable against the Lions — evidence that Zimmer is willing to play journeyman corners.

If Tankersley pans out and can refine his play, it may put the Vikings in a predicament where they’ll have to trim the cornerbacks group down.

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