Vikings Sign Speedy CB to Active Roster Ahead of Postseason

Kalon Barnes

Getty the Vikings signed Baylor cornerback Kaylon Barnes off the Dolphins practice squad on December 14, 2022.

The Minnesota Vikings made a late addition to their stable of cornerbacks, poaching a super speedy rookie from the Miami Dolphins.

Kalon Barnes, a 2022 seventh-round pick, was signed off the Dolphins practice squad on December 14 and was activated to the Vikings’ 53-man roster the same day, per a team report.

The Baylor product was coveted coming out of the 2022 draft class for a blazing 4.23 40-time which is the second-fastest in combine history since 2003. KSTP’s Darren Wolfson said the Vikings did look at him throughout the pre-draft process.

Barnes enters a cornerbacks room that is depleted due to injury. Second-round rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery, while fourth-round rookie Akayleb Evans is out indefinitely after suffering his third concussion this year against the New York Jets on December 4.

Cameron Dantzler, back from a four-week stint on the injured reserve list, remains a starter alongside Patrick Peterson and slot corner Chandon Sullivan. Barnes joins Duke Shelley and Kris Boyd as reserve corners behind the starting trio.

Vikings See Long-Term Value in Ex-Dolphins CB Kalon Barnes

Barnes’ speed alone made him a draft prospect, but pundits have questioned his abilities to play corner.

“Cornerback with the traits worthy of consideration for a late-round pick. Barnes has legitimate track speed but his play can be too reliant upon that aspect of his game. He’s a better athlete than cover man, often losing track of his coverage duties,”’s Lance Zierlein wrote. “He’s athletic and has no excuses for not playing with better technique. Barnes’ length and ball skills could have a team willing to plug him into a practice squad slot to see if there is more consistent football ahead for him.”

Zierlein’s critique is valid. Barnes, a two-sport athlete at Baylor, has never taken the chance of truly devoting himself to the position of cornerback. He was a track star at Baylor and a three-sport athlete in high school.

However, his upside is undeniable the right development at the professional level. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler and Pro Football Focus both valued Barnes as a fourth- to fifth-round talent.

“Overall, Barnes is speed-reliant and needs to improve his technique and feel down the field, but his special athletic traits give him a fighting chance at an NFL career, especially if he learns to play inside corner,” Brugler wrote.

Under contract through 2024, Barnes is a long-term project for the new Vikings regime and is not expected to contribute until the new year, according to Wolfson.

“This isn’t a move to immediately help the defense vs. the Colts or Giants,” Wolfson tweeted in response to a fan.

Kalon Barnes Could Be a Sign of the Vikings’ Future Plans

The zone coverage defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has been the pain point of the Vikings fan base that has watched opposing wide receivers left untouched for 15-yard gains in the middle of the field the whole season.

However, press or man coverage isn’t what you want to live or die on with your best cornerback being Peterson at the age of 31. Dantzler has shown promise throughout his young career, however, the zone scheme isn’t what plays to his strengths.

The addition of another young cornerback alongside Booth and Evans shows an initiative to eventually move away from zone coverage.

When that day comes remains to be seen with the Vikings attempting to make do with a defense built around veteran talent.

There will be growing pains for the young secondary that beyond Harrison Smith and Peterson are all on rookie deals, but the current cast of rookie talent is being built around physicality and speed — a sign Minnesota may be moving toward the secondary dictating more of the game.

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