Do the Vikings Have a New Starting Cornerback?

Mechi Blackmon, Akayleb Evans, Minnesota Vikings cornerback battle
Dan Powers-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, it was reported that cornerbacks Akayleb Evans and Shaq Griffin were manning the starting outside cornerback spots, while cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. slid inside to the slot for their nickel package. Well, there looks to be a change in this week’s organized team activities according to one Minnesota Vikings’ Beat Writer.

Mekhi Blackmon In, Akayleb Evans Out as Minnesota Vikings Outside Cornerback?

According to Alec Lewis (The Athletic), second-year cornerback Mekhi Blackmon took a majority of the snaps as the outside cornerback at Wednesday’s organized team activity practice. It also looks like Evans was demoted back to the second team.

Akayleb Evans played outside cornerback for most of last week’s OTA practice available to media members, but second-year corner Mekhi Blackmon garnered most of the snaps Wednesday. After one pass breakup, he even jawed with receiver Brandon Powell, and Bynum stepped between them to break them up.

Alec Lewis – Minnesota Vikings’ Beat Writer (The Athletic)

Related: Rookie Khyree Jackson a Minnesota Vikings starter?

Not only does Lewis note that Blackmon garnered most of the snaps Wednesday, but also noted one big pass breakup where he jawed with wide receiver Brandon Powell, with safety Cam Bynum stepping in to break them up. This is somewhat noteworthy from someone who got a lot of playing time as a rookie cornerback due to Evans being benched multiple times last season.

Who will win the starting outside cornerback spot for the Minnesota Vikings?

At this point in time, it seems like Vikings’ cornerbacks Griffin and Murphy Jr. are locks to be starters in their base and nickel defense. When the Vikings shift to a nickel defense, Murphy Jr. will go into the slot leaving an open starting spot on the outside.

As of now, that battle seems to be between Evans and Blackmon. Both of whom having an up and down season last year, more so Evans than Blackmon. Evans finished with a 2023 Pro Football Focus (PFF) overall grade of 55.0 which is not good. Blackmon finished with a 2023 PFF overall grade of 71.8. Significantly better than Evans, despite being a rookie, but did regress toward the end of the season.

Overall, the opposite outside cornerback spot in the nickel defense will be a fun battle this offseason. Cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. seems to be on thin ice as a former second-round pick in the 2022 draft, but early on this offseason it seems like Evans and Blackmon are competing for that spot. Don’t rule out new rookie cornerback Khyree Jackson too. He seems to already be impressing the coaches.

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