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NFL Combine Winners: Cornerbacks Who Could Interest Vikings

Who stood out among a deep corner class at the combine in Indianapolis?

Last week was a huge week in the draft process for the Vikings, as they flocked to Indianapolis to interview and observe many of the prospects on their big board during the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.

A prospect's game tape from college is the most important thing in their evaluation. But their interviews, measurements, medical reviews, athletic testing, and drill performances at the combine go a long way, too. With that in mind, let's go over some of the biggest winners from this year's combine at positions of need for the Vikings.

Next up is cornerback, which is far and away the most-frequently mocked position for the Vikings at No. 25 overall. It makes sense for the Vikings to seriously consider taking a corner in the first round, considering the free agency of Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander and the general consensus that Xavier Rhodes will be a necessary cap casualty. Even if one of Waynes or Alexander is brought back, the Vikings could still greatly benefit from drafting a talented corner early. Their depth at the position (headlined by Mike Hughes, Holton Hill, and Kris Boyd) is largely unproven.

“They’re still a ways away, a little bit," Mike Zimmer said at the combine of his trio of young corners, according to the Star Tribune. “Hughes and Hill and Boyd, they have the ability to do it. Like, during the season I gave them an assignment that I wanted them to do every single day and they did it. That tells me that they want to do it. I think that’s half the battle.”

Here are a few players who could interest the Vikings after strong weeks in Indy.

CJ Henderson, Florida

Let me preface this blurb by saying that after his combine performance, it's unlikely Henderson falls to No. 25. And given the depth of this corner class, it would surprise me if Rick Spielman felt the need to trade up in the first round. But if Henderson is still available when the Vikings pick, they should have seen enough to confidently pull the trigger. He ran a blazing 4.39-second 40 yard dash, tied for second-fastest among all corners. He did 20 reps in the bench press, tied for fifth among corners. He was also strong in the vertical and broad jumps. And Henderson's smooth movement and footwork showed in the on-field drills. The knock on him is his reluctance as a tackler, but that won't be enough to outweigh his All-Pro caliber coverage potential. Henderson is likely competing with LSU's Kristian Fulton for the CB2 title behind Jeff Okudah.

AJ Terrell, Clemson

Terrell's stock is on the rise after a strong combine performance. His 4.42-second 40 and 10'9" broad jump were top-six marks at the position, and he was impressive in the drills portion of Saturday's proceedings. Terrell famously struggled in the National Championship game against LSU, but that was against a historically dominant QB-WR duo in Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase. He's got great size for the position at 6-foot-1 and showed plenty of outstanding coverage ability in 2019. Terrell went to the Vikings at pick No. 58 in my pre-combine mock draft, but it's looking like he won't last that long in April. Post-combine mocks from respected experts Daniel Jeremiah ( and Matt Miller (Bleacher Report) have had Terrell moving up into the first round. He could be an option for the Vikings in the first round if there is a run on corners.

Essang Bassey, Wake Forest

With Alexander reportedly looking forward to testing the market, the Vikings could be in need of a new slot corner next year. Hughes, Hill, and Boyd are all primarily outside corners, though the Vikings could look to move one of them inside if Alexander departs, especially in the event that Waynes is re-signed. CFL signee Marcus Sayles could compete for snaps at the nickel spot, but the Vikings could still stand to draft a slot corner or sign one in free agency.

Bassey could be an intriguing option as soon as the late third round, but probably early on during Day 3. The 5-foot-9 Wake Forest product flashed impressive athleticism with a 4.46 40, a 39.5-inch vertical jump, and a 4.13-second 20-yard shuttle in Indy. His production over three years as a starter in the ACC (11 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 42 passes defended) show the combination of coverage ability and run support needed to succeed at the nickel corner position. Bassey struggled a bit at the Senior Bowl, but this combine performance should do good things for his stock.

Loser: Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State

I'm generally going to stick with focusing on winners from the combine as I do these positional breakdowns, but it's worth occasionally noting when talented players under-perform athletically. Dantzler was one of the best corners in the SEC for the past couple years, earning high marks from PFF, especially in coverage. He's got length, footwork, and anticipation skills that compare favorably to most of the corners in this draft class.

The problem is that he ran a disastrous 4.64-second 40 at the combine, and was merely average in the only other athletic test he did, the vertical jump. The list of corners to run a 4.6 40 or worse and succeed in the NFL is not a particularly long one. Teams are going to have to weigh his impressive college tape versus that disappointing time, and he could fall out of the top two rounds as a result.

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