After a slow start to free agency that left a lot of fans scratching their heads, the Minnesota Vikings have now added two starting caliber cornerbacks to the roster in less than a week. Last week, the Vikings stayed in the NFC North by grabbing former Chicago Bears corner Zackary Bowman. This time, they reach into the AFC North for former Baltimore Ravens corner/kick returner Chris Carr.
Of the two, Bowman is likely to make the more significant impact on the secondary. He's been the more productive of the two players (seven interceptions in four seasons to Carr's six in seven seasons), he has familiarity with the Tampa-2 defense having played in it for the last four years in Chicago, he's younger and he's simply more talented.
But to be honest, it's unfair to compare the two because, while they're both cornerbacks, Bowman (6'1", 196 lbs.) is a perimeter player while Carr (5'10", 182 lbs.) is more adept covering the slot – a huge area of concern for the Vikings last season.
With the additions, the Vikings biggest area of concern entering the offseason now has the makings of a serviceable unit. The projected starters at this point would be holdovers Chris Cook and Antoine Winfield with Carr, Bowman and the horrible Asher Allen competing for playing time in sub packages. Carr's arrival likely signifies the end of Marcus Sherels' time in Minnesota. Carr also has experience in the return game, which was Sherels' saving grace last year. And the movement isn't over with the draft still to come.
It's tough to say what GM Rick Spielman is thinking, but I doubt either signing has any correlation to the team's draft plans in three weeks. If the Vikings don't trade out of the No. 3 spot, they'll take their highest rated player, regardless of position. A lot of people (myself included) believe that player is LSU CB Morris Claiborne.
Should the Vikings select the Thorpe Award-winner, it could set off a chain reaction that would turn one of the worst units in league history into an unquestioned strength on a maligned defense. I hate to speculate (just kidding, I love to), but if Claiborne is the pick, the team would likely pair him with Cook and Bowman as the team's top three cornerbacks. Veteran Antoine Winfield would then move to free safety, a position that would suit him well and extend his career, similar to Rod Woodson in the '90s with the Steelers and Ravens. Then, Winfield would be able to use his terrific football mind to get defenders lined up correctly while maximizing his skill set (terrific tackling, short-area quickness).
How many more sacks do you think Jared Allen would be able to rack up with that kind of unit playing behind him?
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