Precedence #1 was rebuilding the secondary. In a bit more than a year, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah fully redid the nook room that Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman constructed.
A sure exemplary Vikings newcomer — rookie Mekhi Blackmon — matches inside the broader development. He finds himself alongside Andrew Sales space Jr. and Akayleb Evans as current draftees at nook. Toss Byron Murphy Jr. into the combo after which particular groups ace (and up to date UDFA signing) NaJee Thompson and followers may have a full view of the place the Vikings’ CB room finds itself in 2023.
The 5 names listed above — Murphy, Blackmon, Evans, Sales space, & Thompson — show how drastically issues have modified. In any case, the elder statesman is Murphy, a participant who’s simply now coming off of his rookie contract and who remains to be solely 25. Youth and upside: that’s now the secret for the CB spot. And, in contrast to the Zimmer days, there’s not a single 1st-round decide to be discovered among the many corners.
The success of the youth motion at nook was removed from a positive factor. In truth, the jury remains to be out in terms of the brand new regime’s strategy to reconstructing the secondary. Mekhi Blackmon, although, has been performing some good issues, inspiring optimism about what’s potential in 2023 and for years to come back.
Mekhi Blackmon, the Vikings Newcomer, is Giving Loads of Cause for Optimism
Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell introduced the nook place in a totally totally different route.
Positive, there was some preliminary carryover with gamers like Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, and Kris Boyd bridging the hole, however that didn’t final too lengthy. Any nook who performed for Zimmer was jettisoned in the course of the offseason, a transparent signal that the brand new GM and HC had a special plan for the way issues ought to take a look at the ultra-important spot.
The protected cash coming into the season was on Murphy and Evans combining to type a ugly twosome (so to talk). After these two, issues have been up within the air. Possibly Blackmon would shine, however that was removed from a certainty. He acquired dropped at Minnesota as the ultimate choice within the third spherical — 102nd total — so he actually had a lot to show.
Working in his favor is his standing as an older rookie. Don’t neglect that he’s already 24 (he’ll flip 25 on March 18th) whereas sophomore Andrew Sales space Jr. remains to be solely 23 (his birthday simply arrived on the finish of September).
Mainly any GM would like to have a youthful participant with a range since there’s the potential for an extended runway of mentioned participant contributing towards the group’s success. The upside, although, is that the older rookie has a extra lifelike path towards changing into a right away contributor.
Up to now, Blackmon has been on the sphere for 165 snaps on protection. Behind Murphy (593) and Evans (528), that’s probably the most of some other Vikings nook in 2023 (with loads of snaps being soaked up by the protection trio of Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum, and Josh Metellus).
Per PFF, Blackmon is liable for permitting simply an 84.7 passer score whereas preserving completions to 10.8 yards (on common). And, for no matter it’s value, the analytics web site offers him a 70.7 grade for his work on the season, good for twenty eighth out of the 114 included within the present rankings.
These accustomed to extra conventional stats ought to be inspired by the rookie’s 4 cross breakups. Typically talking, Blackmon presents some sticky protection. He additionally demonstrates some good compete, a vital attribute for somebody who’s simply 5’11”, 178 kilos.
The standard knowledge means that Brian Flores goes to maintain leaning on his terrific trio at security. And, to make sure, there’s good purpose to be doing so. Metellus and Bynum, specifically, have been having robust seasons. Smith isn’t any slouch, both, leaning on his notorious versatility to get all around the area on Sunday.
When the Vikings are in dime or simply trying to get a further nook onto the sphere, Blackmon has usually been the reply. The current play has completed little or no to recommend he shouldn’t be thought-about the best choice to be the CB3.
In Atlanta, he picked up 29 snaps, the second-highest whole of the season. He didn’t enable a cross into his protection to be accomplished. In a single occasion, that’s as a result of he actively batted the ball down. Blackmon additionally added a deal with to his stat whole in opposition to the Falcons.
On the primary yr of his rookie contract, Mekhi Blackmon is carrying a cap cost sitting at $964,378. Over the following a number of seasons, that cap cost received’t transcend $2 million, so the GM who loves discussing worth might be very happy to see his current nook addition taking part in so nicely so early.
Ok. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been protecting the Vikings full time because the summer time of 2021. He could be discovered on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.