When cornerback Antoine Winfield was released on the first day of free agency, talk of a possible return to the Minnesota Vikings started almost immediately. A reunion is still possible, but Winfield has gotten some interest from other teams and if he is offered the relative security of a multi-year deal it would not be a surprise to see him land elsewhere.
Minnesota could still add a cornerback in free agency, and there are still some recognizable veterans available right now. But adding a young player that could step right into a significant role is sure to be a possibility early in this year’s draft. It is considered a deep cornerback class, and with the NFL being such a pass-driven league plenty of teams will be looking to add talent in the secondary.
Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor has been a standout during the pre-draft process, starting at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine before finishing with a good performance at his Pro Day last week. He posted a sub 4.4-second 40-yard dash time and did 22 bench press reps at the Combine, with both marks among the best at his position.
Taylor is now being projected as a late first-round pick by some, with the New England Patriots (29th overall) and the Atlanta Falcons (30th overall) among the teams that could have him on their radar. The Vikings have two first-round picks, 23rd and 25th overall, so could they consider Taylor at that point? Let’s take a closer look at his measurements, strengths and weaknesses.
Weight: 192 lbs.
– Has excellent straight-line speed; shows good burst and short area quickness
– Is not afraid to be physical with receivers; uses his hands well to jam and re-route
– Is smooth and tight in his back pedal; flips his hips effectively
– Has excellent ball skills; closes well on short routes
– Is a reliable open field tackler; plays with toughness in run support and sets the edge well
– Is considered a hard-working, unselfish player
– Has limited functional strength
– Needs to refine his technique in press coverage
– Can be fooled by play action and double moves; has questionable recovery speed
– Has been hampered by injuries a bit-right knee (2009) and left leg (2011)
– Did not face a consistent high level of competition in college
Taylor’s strengths make him well-suited to being a zone corner, which in turn makes him an excellent fit for the Vikings’ base Cover-2 defensive scheme. He may be able to step into a significant role immediately, which is something else the Vikings need to be looking for in a cornerback. I think using a first-round pick on Taylor would be a bit of a reach with more urgent needs to be addressed, but if he falls to the second round the time could be right for the Vikings to select him.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.