Worry was starting to mount among the Minnesota Vikings fan community heading into the sixth round, as the team still hadn’t addressed the cornerback position. Their move to make Virginia Tech cover man Antone Exum the No. 182nd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, though, certainly alleviates some of the concern.
The Vikings head into the 2014 campaign with two solid starting cornerbacks in Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn, but offer little in terms of depth. And seeing as that has been one of their biggest downfalls over the last couple of seasons, the position needed to be addressed.
Well fear no more, because Exum is an absolute steal, especially in the sixth round.
The Virginia Tech product is a tough, physical cornerback who shows outstanding instincts in coverage and a keen ability to step up against the run. Whether he’s playing press or off coverage, he routinely keeps his man in check and rarely allows receivers to get behind him. Plus, he’s an aggressive run defense who isn’t afraid to step up and get dirty.
The only glaring issue with Exum is his history of injuries. He suffered a torn ACL in January 2013, and dealt with nagging ankle injuries after working his way back into the mix for the Hokies. However, when healthy, he’s an outstanding cover man who can play outside or slot cornerback as well as free safety.
That versatility, coupled with intriguing athleticism, physicality and instincts, should allow Exum to develop into a quick contributor for the Vikings. Josh Robinson and Marcus Sherels have sufficed as subpackage cornerbacks for the past few seasons, but it’s time for an upgrade.
GM Rick Spielman has put together outstanding draft classes the last two seasons, and looks to be doing more of the same in 2014. We’ll see how this year pans out.