After a few drafts and a dip into free agency, the 2022 NFL Draft might finally produce the secondary rebuild the Minnesota Vikings need?
The Minnesota Vikings have been trying to put together a rebuild in the secondary for quite some time. Ever since they draft Xavier Rhodes all the way back in 2013, they’ve been looking to complete the secondary around Rhodes and Harrison Smith. Once Rhodes moved on after 2019, that need went into overdrive.
It wasn’t that the Vikings hadn’t looked to address defensive back (especially corner) before that. They drafted Trae Waynes in the first round in 2015, and Mackensie Alexander in the second round in 2016. Waynes was a bit up and down, but he was solid at his best. Alexander played the slot well.
Still, the Vikings prepared for the future, drafting Mike Hughes with the 30th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Hughes never really found footing, and after Waynes and Rhodes left, 2020 meant an overhaul needed to happen.
The Vikings took both the late Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler in the 2020 NFL Draft with hopes of filling the corner room with talent once again. It didn’t work out perfectly, and the Vikings added Patrick Peterson to be a veteran in the room while the young guys developed.
Fast forward to 2022, and while Dantzler is consistent and improving, finding the top guy in the room was still the plan for Minnesota. Not to mention, finding a running mate for Smith to complete the secondary.
Following a major trade back with the Lions, the Vikings were in a great spot to capitalize on secondary talent that fell a bit in the draft. They selected Lewis Cine with the 32nd pick, a player who oozes toughness and has better range than anticipated. His football IQ is off the charts.
Then, it was Andrew Booth, who fell a bit in the draft because of some injury concerns. Booth has some of the best feet in the class, and his ball skills and in-air athleticism is unmatched. He’s also physical in press and against the run.
The Minnesota Vikings may have finally completed this rebuild in the secondary. A unit that features Dantzler and Booth on the outside with Smith and Cine patrolling the back end could be monstrous to get this defense going in the right direction. Offensive success should speak for itself this season, even under a new coach, but Booth and Cine could transform the secondary back into a strength for Minnesota in a division against a top offense and a couple up-and-coming units.