‘The Red Flags Were Up:’ Analyst Slams Vikings After Rookie’s Season Ends

Kevin O'Connell

Getty Former Vikings Super Bowl quarterback Joe Kapp died at the age of 85 on Monday, May 8, 2023.

Andrew Booth Jr. falling to the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2022 draft seemed too good to be true.

Booth was considered an uber-athletic, first-round prospect whose injury history was his only concern.

That history followed him into his first year as a pro, which came to a premature close after he underwent knee surgery on Monday.

A day after the procedure, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Booth will miss the remainder of the season.

#Vikings CB Andrew Booth Jr. is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery Monday, per source,” Pelissero tweeted on November 29. “Losing Booth, the second-round pick from Clemson, is a blow to depth in Minnesota’s beat-up secondary, though Kevin O’Connell said he’s hopeful Cam Dantzler comes off IR soon.”

The Booth news has been met with scrutiny as the second-round pick out of Clemson had many red flags. Booth has had four operations since 2020, including three in the past eight months.

“The red flags were up pre-draft,” KSTP’s Darren Wolfson said on the SKOR North Podcast. “There were teams that had medical checks next to his name, ‘Yeah, we can’t take him Day 1 or Day 2, if we want to roll the dice Day 3. … There were a number of teams that wouldn’t have touched him in the 30s, 40s, 50s or even 60s.”

Booth was dealing with a sports hernia during the pre-draft process and had a pair of operations before he was eased into Vikings training camp. He then suffered a quad injury in the season opener that forced him to miss the next five games. Booth got a start against the Dallas Cowboys in place of an injured Cameron Dantzler, however, he had been dealing with ankle issues before his more serious knee injury.

“Let’s call it what it is. It’s not the final chapter being written,” Wolfson added. “But so far, a swing and a miss by the Vikings front office.”

He had two operations for a core muscle injury before the draft and was eased into team activities the spring and summer before he suffered a quad injury in the season opener and was also dealing with ankle issues midseason.

Vikings Cornerbacks Cam Dantzler, Akayleb Evans Close to Return

Booth’s season-ending surgery is another hit to a depleted cornerbacks corps that is currently down to four healthy corners in Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, Duke Shelley and Kris Boyd.

Dantzler has been out for four games with an ankle injury, while fourth-round rookie Akayleb Evans has missed the past two games in concussion protocol. Dantzler told Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson that he’s on track to return next week against the Detroit Lions.

“Absolutely. The training staff has done a wonderful job maintaining everything and I’m right on target to return for Detroit,” Dantzler told Tomasson.

Meanwhile, if Evans clears concussion protocol this week, he’ll make his second career start against a Jets offense that soared last week in backup quarterback Mike White’s first start.

Vikings Will Have to Wait for Secondary Rebuild

The Vikings had high hopes for a rookie rebuild of its secondary by selecting three of their first five picks, but so far those picks haven’t brought many returns.

First-round pick Lewis Cine played just two snaps outside of special teams before he suffered a brutal lower leg fracture against the New Orleans Saints. Booth, selected just 10 picks after Cine, missed five games early in the season and played 105 snaps before he suffered his season-ending injury.

Evans has been a lone bright spot in the draft. He’s played 117 snaps and aside from his two-game stint in concussion protocol, has been readily available. Evans has allowed nine receptions on 14 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown this season. He also had a crucial forced fumble in the Vikings’ win over the Buffalo Bills, his first start of the season.

Minnesota’s secondary is still a work in progress with veterans Harrison Smith and Peterson leading the way. The Vikings have plenty of raw prospects but for those players to develop they’ll first need to find a way to stay on the field in 2023.

That starts with Cine, who despite questions surrounding his availability even next season, is on track to play in 2023 and has been seen walking around the team facilities without any supportive equipment.

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