(Note: For the next three days, we’ll take an exclusive look at the Vikings’ upcoming draft – in an Access Vikings kind of way. Check for a new post by mid-morning through Friday. This year’s extravaganza will also include a daily video element; click here for today’s installment. Feel free to comment and discuss, although most of you don’t need much encouragement. By the way keep checking back for more on the Jared Allen situation throughout the day.)
The issue: It’s simple: a team can never have enough quality cornerbacks, and there is no such thing as too much competition at this position – especially when you consider the Vikings have been at the bottom of the NFL in past defense for two consecutive seasons.
What they have: Starting left cornerback Antoine Winfield will be entering his 10th season and is the elder statesmen among a fairly young group. Starting right corner Cedric Griffin and expected nickel back Charles Gordon both have two years of NFL experience and Marcus McCauley, who spent part of last season playing in the nickel and also received several starts in place of the injured Winfield, was a rookie.
The Vikings signed five-year veteran Benny Sapp as a free agent. Sapp, formerly of the Chiefs, could get the opportunity to compete for the nickel job and likely will find himself playing on special teams assuming he makes the final roster.
What they need: Winfield sat out a career-high six games last season after having missed only two games in his first three years with Minnesota. Winfield is only 5-9 and 180 pounds but he has been one of the hardest-hitting corners in the NFL throughout his career. That could be finally catching up with him. Winfield’s problems last season included a hamstring issues and a pectoral muscle injury. If he is entering the twilight of his career, the Vikings are going to want to have a replacement ready.
McCauley, a third-round pick out of Fresno State last year, could be the Vikings’ top choice for the job. Even if that’s the case, quality depth is eventually going to become an issue. Considering the fact that top cornerbacks are gone early in the draft — and because the Vikings don’t have a first-round pick due to the Jared Allen trade – the Vikings could hold off at this position until the 2009 draft.
That also would give Minnesota’s personnel department an opportunity to see how much progress McCauley makes in his second season.