The 2022 NFL Combine and a lot of Pro Days finished up over the past few weeks and many people got to see what some players had to offer. Prior to the Combine, I broke down why the DB position was the primary position that the Vikings should focus on, 2022 NFL Draft: Top 5 DB Prospects the Vikings Could Select at No. 12 Overall. The Vikings know they have to improve the corner position. So far, they have signed former Packers DB, Chandon Sullivan, former Broncos DB, Nate Hariston, and re-signed Patrick Peterson. Even so, there is still a demand for depth at the position. 

How these signings affect the roster?

Sullivan is primarily a slot cornerback, and as it stands right now he’s probably at the top of the depth chart in that area. In 2021, Sullivan played in 17 games and recorded 31 tackles (3 for a loss), 3 interceptions, and 4 pass defenses. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Sullivan ranked 10th last season among 41 slot corners in yards allowed per snap in the slot. 

Hairston comes over from the Denver Broncos and has experience playing for new Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell. Last season, he totaled nine tackles and four passes defended but mostly was contributing on special teams. He hopefully will give the Vikings flexibility in the secondary. Hairston is a good depth player and could easily be put into the slot on a few plays and do well.

Finally, Patrick Peterson returns to the Vikings on another one-year deal. He started in all 13 of his games played and only allowed opposing receivers to catch just 57.8% of their targets and had quarterbacks post a passer rating of 89, according to PFF. Peterson also had three pass breakups and one interception. 

Signing these three players was a good start to addressing the cornerback position but the team still needs a lot of help there and is likely nowhere near done addressing it yet. Arguably, the players on this list have a huge amount of talent and I’m sure would add a lot to the team. However, talent doesn’t always equate to NFL success.  

What to look for in a defensive back

According to PFF’s long-term study on combine testing, 40 times are the weakest indication of a corner’s overall success, and the player’s weight, 10 yards, and vertical jump are the best indicators. Additionally, the 10-yard run is the most indicative of success.


40 Time (s)

Weight (lbs)

10 yard (s)

Vertical (inch)







6’2 ½






























5’11 ½













Average DB






*Did not give full numbers in comparison to other DBs


Additional Safety Prospects

Given the skill at the safety position in the class, it is warranted to look at these players as well. Currently, Camryn Bynum starts next to the legendary Harrison Smith, and last season PFF ranked the former 78.3 among other safeties. When Smith landed on the COVID list in Week 9, Bynum took his place and played all 98 defensive snaps recording 11 tackles, a diving interception, and earning a 90 PFF grade while lining up all over the field. In week 10, he also had a sack and a pass breakup.

Due to the Vikings not bringing Xavier Woods back, Bynum will probably start opposite Smith in his second season. Unfortunately, the sample size of his production in the pros is limited to those two games so it’s hard to say how he will do starting the entire year

Based on PFF, the most important qualities for safeties are their weight, arm size, ten-yard split time, vertical, and forty times.


40 Time (s)

Weight (lbs)

10 yard (s)

Vertical (inch)

Arm Size (inch)












31 ¾ 






32 ¼  

Average S





31 11/16


Comparing the 10-yard exercise to the average safety, all of the prospects are around the average. However, the other four factors are where the differences lie.

Honorable Mention: Andrew Booth Jr.

2022 NFL draft: Andrew Booth Jr. scouting report

Outside of some inexperience, Booth had a high ceiling that could hold benefits for the Vikings. In 2019, he recorded four tackles and as a sophomore in 2020, he started four of 11 games, recording 27 tackles, two interceptions, one sack, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

In 2021, he was a first-team All-ACC member with 37 tackles and 37 interceptions. Unfortunately, he didn’t participate in Clemson’s Pro Day and only now underwent surgery on a core muscle. Booth also didn’t test at the NFL scouting combine because of a hamstring injury. Because of his injury-prone situation, there would have to be a heavy trust factor in his numbers being replicated in the NFL. As such, this, unfortunately, pushes him away from the Vikings at least in the first round. 

Reach Prospects

These prospects probably would not be the choices that the Vikings do at 12 but if they decide to go with a different position, they could pick them up in the later rounds. 

10. Derion Kendrick

NFL Draft: Georgia Defensive Back Declares for Draft - Visit NFL Draft on  Sports Illustrated, the latest news coverage, with rankings for NFL Draft  prospects, College Football, Dynasty and Devy Fantasy Football.

The main weakness that Kendrick has is that he is slow and there are no numbers for his 10-second dash and vertical jump. Outside of that and “disciplinary” reasons that lead him to transfer to Georgia from Clemson, he was thought to be a solid DB that could add a lot to the debilitating secondary.

In 2019 and 2021, he was on the second team, and in 2020, he was on the first team. He had 43 tackles, two interceptions, and a touchdown in 2019. But then in 2020, Kendrick fell a little bit and only had 18 tackles, one interception, and one sack. However, he was able to bounce back in 2021 and get 41 tackles and 4 interceptions. As he did not participate at the combine, his day to show out was at Georgia’s Pro Day. The 6-foot man weighed in at 250 lbs, 11 lbs heavier than before and not muscle, and ran 40 times of 4.75 and 4.78 seconds. Unfortunately, this moves him away from the other corners that the Vikings should pick, at least at 12. 

9. Daxton Hill

At the Combine, Hill ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, which ranked 14th overall. He has shown some versatility playing both the slot and the safety position. He played in 33 games and made 22 starts for Michigan in his three seasons and finished with 151 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 20 pass breakups. Hill also produced eight quarterback pressures on 32 pass-rushing snaps and held opponents to 6.7 yards per attempt in pass coverage, surrendering just one touchdown all season on 68 passing targets according to PFF.

Hill was named first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-Big Ten by coaches and the media, respectively. The main reasons why he’s lower on this list are that his vertical and weight are lower than the average safety and that the Vikings should focus on a corner over a safety. However, as a safety, having the speed that Hill has will make him a steal in the second round, if he is still around.

8. Roger McCreary

McCreary’s main weakness is that his weight is low and his vertical is also below average. However, his speed and height are his advantages. In 2020, totaled 49 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a sack, 2 interceptions, and 14 pass deflections. In 2021, he logged 49 tackles, 2 interceptions, 13 passes defended, received first-team All-SEC recognition, and was named a first-team All-American. At Auburn’s pro day, McCreary ran an unofficial 4.46-second 40-yard dash, improving on the 4.5 he posted at the NFL Combine. He measured at 6’0, 190 lbs with a wingspan of 70′ 5⁄8” with 29 1⁄4″ hands. 

As such, McCreary doesn’t have the perfect size for the position and could be outmuscled by bigger receivers. This shows through McCreary’s ability to break up a lot of passes but doesn’t get that many turnovers. However, many say that he is a player who will go 100 percent every single play. That is a great quality in a player that can work to improve his game even if he’s on the smaller side. 

7. Trent McDuffie

As a freshman in 2019, McDuffie played in all 13 games, starting 11, and finished the season with 45 tackles, three pass breakups, one interception, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. He earned honorable mention Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.

In 2020, McDuffie started all four games and racked up 14 tackles and was a Second Team All-Pac 12 selection. In 2021, he finished with 35 tackles, one tackle-for-loss, and six pass-breakups and earned First Team All-Pac 12. McDuffie had a 4.44 40-yard dash time and measured out at 5’10 and 193 pounds with 8 3/4-inch hands. At his height, he’s not the perfect size for the cornerback position compared to Stingley or Gardner but that is the only real negative. He has mostly avoided injuries despite being involved in a lot of action. The Vikings have struggled with slot corners for a while and McDuffie could easily fall into that a la Antoine Winfield who was only 5’8 but ran a 4.41 40 yard dash. At the Washington University Pro Day, he unofficially had a 38.5 vertical jump. 

The main reason why McDuffie is below the other players on this list is that he is below average with his weight and height for a corner. He probably will not make it to the second round but he is mostly a slot corner and this is a position that the Vikings have already somewhat improved with the free-agent signings. He may not be a starter on Day 1 unless he impresses everyone out of the gate. As such, he is a bit of a reach if he is taken at 12. 

6. Kyler Gordon

The only two weaknesses about this player are that he’s below average with his speed and his weight. Gordon was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection this past season after finishing with 45 tackles, two interceptions, seven passes defended, and a forced fumble. At the combine, he ran a 4.57 40-yd dash, has a wingspan of 79 3⁄4” with 9 1⁄4” hands, and is 5 ’11 ½” tall. Gordon apparently does have issues where receivers get behind him and he can struggle to catch up. However, he does have a great ability to change direction to counter this weakness. 

At the Washington University Pro Day, he unofficially had a 39.5 vertical jump, one inch higher than his former teammate, Trent McDuffie. This would have tied for 10th at the combine among corners. As 2021 was his first season as a full-time starter and he still improved, Gordon has a high ceiling and seemingly will only get better with more reps. The main reason he is above McDuffie is that Gordon is almost equal in the most important categories and his vertical is higher than McDuffie. As the vertical gives the smallest difference between draft pick and overall success, he is slightly better than McDuffie though it is a very small difference. If he’s around in the second round and the Vikings decide to go another way with their 12th, he’ll be worth the pickup. 

Worth Picking up at 12

5. Jaquan Brisker

Brisker is a very talented player that too good to pass up if he falls and the other players do not fall. His hard work is shown simply after the Combine. Brisker initially ran a 4.49 40 yard dash and jumped 34.5 inches. But at the Penn State Pro Day, he improved that to a 4.40 40 yard dash and 38.5 inches.

During his three years at Penn State, Brisker had 151 tackles (10 for loss), 5 interceptions, and 14 pass breakups. He has immense versatility that he could easily play secondary, whether that’s a corner, nickel, boundary nickel, and safety position. This versatility allows him to break the molds of all of these positions. If he gets moved to DB, he could still succeed and potentially play as good as the top picks on this list. He could easily work in safety as well and work alongside Harrison Smith. 

4. Kyle Hamilton

Similar to Brisker, Hamilton is a very talented player that is too good to pass up in the event of a slide. His versatility is exactly what Ed Donatell would be looking for to utilize in his defense. Hamilton is seemingly a better safety except that he is a little slow. At the Combine, he ran a bit of a slower 40-yard dash at 4.59 seconds but at his pro day, he apparently ran between 4.54 and 4.56. However, some are saying he ran closer to 4.7 seconds. 

Even with his slightly slower and average speed, Hamilton would be a good addition to work alongside fellow Notre Dame safety alum, Harrison Smith. Smith has been consistently good for essentially his entire career and honestly who better to pass the torch to than another Notre Dame safety?

Hamilton has shown that he can stop the run and play coverage. He may not be the fastest player on the field but he has the ability equal to that of Smith. Except Hamilton’s two inches taller and weighs 7lbs more. Picking up Hamilton to fight for the starting job or to learn to eventually replace Smith may be ideal if the corners above are taken and Hamilton has not been picked. As a starter at Notre Dame, he was named first-team All-ACC after recording 63 tackles, six pass breakups, and an interception. The only reason why he is lower than the other picks is that he is a safety an not an outside DB. Hamilton is the top safety on this list because of his vertical and weight and even though he’s slower than the others, his speed is pretty similar to Smith’s 4.57 40 yard dash. 

3. Kaiir Elam

At the Combine, Elam came in at 6’1, weighing 191 lbs, and ran one of the best 40-yard dash times among all corners at 4.39. Elam is still a big defender at 6’1 and is very physical but he did not play that great in 2021. In 10 games played, he had one interception and five passes defended last season. His 40 at the Combine ranked tied for eighth-best among cornerbacks. At the Florida Pro Day, he had posted an unofficial 37.5-inch vertical jump which would have been tied for fourth-best among corners. 

Elam is average or better than average in all categories but his weight. This is a factor that can be changed with some time in the gym. If he’s able to do that, he has a lot of great attributes. Elam is only ranked higher than Hamilton and Brisker because he is the next best outside corner and they are pure safeties. With that being the Vikings’ biggest priority, he should be picked before both of them. 

2. Derek Stingley Jr.

Stingley is one of the most impressive corners in this class. There’s a lot to be said to his upside when teams are willing to overlook his play during the COVID-19 year and the lesser 2021 season due to injury. They are betting on his 2019 season when he had six interceptions and 15 passes defended. This ends up also being his ultimate weakness, considering all the time he’s missed over the past two seasons. Stingley wasn’t able to play consistently so the footage on him is minimal. This is the main reason why he is so low on the list. If we had more data on him, he would be much higher. His numbers speak for themselves even with the injuries.

The most recent injury was during the summer of 2021 when he injured his foot and only was able to play three games before sitting out and getting it operated on. As such, he will have to prove that he is back to 100 percent. With Gardner’s stock rising, there is a possibility that Stingley will be available at 12. His highlights show that he can match up with receivers of all shapes and sizes and he is a star waiting to happen. If Gardner is taken before 12 and Stingley is available, he should be snatched up by the Vikings instantaneously. On his Pro Day, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 and gave a 38.5-inch vertical jump. These two measurements would have ranked top 5 among DBs at the Combine. Stingley solidified his status as a potential top-10 pick but his mentioned “weaknesses” put him slightly below the top choice. 

1. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner

After the Combine, picking Cincinnati cornerback Gardner is still the preferred way to go. He is average or better than average in all categories and seemingly has the makeup to be a perfect corner in this league. A lot of people have compared Gardner to Rams star Jalen Ramsey. At his respective Combine, Ramsey came in weighing 209 lbs, a 4.41 40-yd dash, 6’1 1⁄4”, 88” wingspan with 9½” hands, and was 6′ 2 ½” tall. He also has been compared to 2006 first-round pick Antonio Cromartie who came in at 208 lbs, ran a 4.52 40-yd dash, had a 79” wingspan with 9 1⁄2″ hands, and was 6 ‘2 1⁄8” tall. Garnder weighed 200 lbs, ran a 4.41 40-yd dash, has a wingspan of 79 ⅜” with 9 ⅝” hands, and is 6’2 ½” tall.

As said previously, Gardner is a tall, physical, and ultra-athletic corner who shined in press-man coverage during his college career. According to PFF, he didn’t allow a touchdown in over 1,000 coverage snaps during his three years at Cincinnati. This is who the Vikings should absolutely take if he falls to them at pick 12. However, Gardner’s stock has been rising over the past few weeks so he may not be available at 12. 


It is known that the last few players on this list are similar to a lot out there. But any of them will hopefully be a fantastic pick. If the Vikings are able to get any of the top 5 players on this list, they will have a good pick at 12. If they aren’t able to, which is fairly unlikely, then they may want to look at a different position. Minnesota also could trade back to get one of the reach prospects as they would be an added skill level if they aren’t ideal. The Vikings also could improve in other positions such as their defensive tackle or linebacker. However, either the few good ones will not fall to the twelfth pick or they are not worth the 12th overall pick so they will probably fall to the later rounds. 

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