Minnesota Vikings 2017 Pre-Draft Roster Overview: Defensive Backs

Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith intercepts a pass during the second quarter against the New York Giants at TCF Bank Stadium.
Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith intercepts a pass during the second quarter against the New York Giants at TCF Bank Stadium.

The NFL Draft is now on the horizon. 32 teams will dip into the pool of collegiate prospects to add to their rosters with the hopes of building their franchise into a contender for Super LII next February. One team who may have a little more incentive to make sure that they capitalize on their picks this weekend as their city will be hosting the big game at that time.

The Vikings have been utilizing the draft the past five seasons to build up their defense. The secondary, more than any other unit, has benefitted most from the efforts as they have become one of the NFL’s top defensive backfields. Be that as it may, that’s not likely to dissuade management from looking for another talented player to add to this already talent rich group.


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Defensive Back Roster:

Xavier Rhodes*, Andrew Sendejo*, Harrison Smith*, Trae Waynes*, Terence Newman, Mackenzie Alexander, Marcus Sherels, Jabari Price, Tre Roberson, Anthony Harris, Jayron Kearse, Antone Exum, Cedric Thompson
(*) – projected or incumbent starter

The Vikings’ secondary has been key in the defense’s resurgence over the past three years against a league trending towards pass-heavy teams. This unit may arguably be the strongest on the defensive side of the ball with two of the four starters be selected for the Pro Bowl over the past two seasons. This unit has also been critical in the defense’s climb from worst in the NFL in 2013, to sixth versus the pass in 2015, and followed by a third place finish in 2016.

Xavier Rhodes’  2016 stat line:  52 tackles, 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 1 touchdown
Terence Newman’s  2016 stat line:  33 tackles, 1 interception
Trae Waynes’  2016 stat line:  42 tackles, 3 interceptions
Harrison Smith’s  2016 stat line:  92 tackles, 52 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Andrew Sendejo’s  2016 stat line:  69 tackles, 0.5 Sack, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries
Though this secondary has put itself in the discussion for one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL, the Vikings won’t likely shy away from adding another talented player to the group; if an opportunity presents itself as it did in last year’s draft when they selected Alexander in the second round despite having Captain Munnerlyn on the roster. With Rhodes and Smith growing into Pro Bowl-caliber players and Waynes taking steps forward in his second year, the likely spot the Vikings may target in the draft is at safety.
Need (none; 1 — desperate; 10):  2 to 3
Chances Vikings draft a defensive back:  Low to Medium

Even while Sendejo has shown little improvement over the past two seasons, he has been a starter. His abilities in pass coverage are still questionable at best and can be a liability in some situations. The team has been searching for someone who is capable of playing the center-field role well so as to take full advantage of Smith’s talents in any situation. NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks has linked safety Marcus Maye, from Florida, as a possible fit due to those qualities. It may not be out of the realm of possibility for the Vikings to target this position early in the draft if the opportunity is right.

— Clayton R. Brooks II writes for cover32 and covers the Minnesota Vikings. He can be followed on Twitter @ClaytonRBrooks2. Like and follow vikings32 on Facebook, and Twitter.

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