NFL Combine: S, CB workouts begin, what positions do Vikings need?
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Each day of NFL Scouting Combine workouts we'll highlight one or two positions that will work out and are also of need for the Minnesota Vikings.
Defensive back workouts begin on Tuesday to close out the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. Offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists wrapped up on Saturday while 'skill' players in quarterbacks, running backs and receivers completed their drills on Sunday. Linebackers and defensive linemen completed their Combine drills on Monday.
Vikings' current situation: With other glaring needs to fill in the first couple rounds, it's hard to see the Vikings drafting a cornerback early unless a top prospect falls into their lap. After witnessing the early success of 2013's first-round pick in Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings could use another body at corner even though they have Rhodes ($1.77 million), Josh Robinson ($811,250), Shaun Prater ($570,000) and Robert Steeples ($495,000) on the books in some capacity in 2014, per ESPN.com. Cornerbacks Chris Cook and Marcus Sherels (RFA) are pending free agents. No matter the current roster, the Vikings had one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history last season (37 passing TDs allowed ties for most since 1970) and will need to retool their secondary under defensive-minded coach Mike Zimmer.
The cornerback free agent market this offseason is relatively deep with the likes of Aqib Talib, Alterraun Verner and Captain Munnerlyn available. However, there are a few interesting prospects in May's NFL Draft.
Who to watch: The Vikings have one pick in each round of May's NFL Draft, with exception of a second third-round pick (96th overall). Here are three cornerbacks to watch Tuesday.
Bradley Roby - Rated as NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock's fifth-best cornerback in the draft, Ohio State's Bradley Roby (5'11", 192lbs) is projected as a late first or second-round draft pick depending on his performances this spring. Roby suffered a hyperextension and a bone bruise in his left knee in the Big Ten Championship game loss to Michigan State on Dec. 7 and missed OSU's Orange Bowl loss to Clemson. He was considered one of the top cornerbacks in college football before the 2013 season, but that draft stock has apparently taken a hit as he's ranked no higher than fifth by NFL.com and CBSSports.com. Depending on Roby's performances at the Combine and in private workouts with teams, he could be worth a look if he slips to the third round, where the Vikings have two picks in May.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste - After the world watched the Seattle Seahawks' secondary dominate in their Super Bowl victory, height is all the rage when it comes to cornerbacks since a finger-tipped pass led to their NFC Championship-clinching interception. Nebraska product Jean-Baptiste (6'3", 220lbs) is one of the largest cornerbacks at the Combine and will get a chance to prove his athleticism in Tuesday's drills. However, height doesn't solve all problems as the Vikings' 6-foot-2-inch Chris Cook failed to intercept a pass - and stay on the field - in four seasons in Minnesota. Jean-Baptiste started all 12 games for Nebraska and tied the team lead with four interceptions. He's currently projected to go in the third round.
Keith McGill - Another 6'3" cornerback, Mayock likened Utah's McGill to a "combination of Seattle's cornerback duo of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman." The Utes product missed the entire 2012 season due to injury after transferring from junior college in 2011. McGill's one and only full season in Utah ended with 12 pass deflections and one interception. His versatility (played safety in 2011) could provide the Vikings with another hybrid defensive back as they switched safety (and college CB) Robert Blanton down to the nickel cornerback role last season. McGill bounced back from cramps in the week leading up to the Senior Bowl and nabbed the game-ending interception in the South team's 20-10 victory.