There was a lot of pre-draft speculation that the Vikings were going to add a cornerback this weekend, with some thinking it may have come as early as the first round. Instead, the first cornerback taken by the Vikings didn't come until the sixth round, selecting Maine cornerback Kendall James.
A fifth-year senior and three-year starter at Maine, he was able to dominate his competition level and isn't lacking for confidence coming to the NFL. He plays with a mean streak and is looking forward to bringing his high-energy style to Mike Zimmer's aggressive, in-your-face defense.
"I can bring toughness to (the secondary), I can help on the special teams and I'm an all-around great cover corner," James said. "I think I can help them a lot to help this defense."
James played both man and zone coverage and feels he can be an impact player because Zimmer's style would fit into his game like a glove.
"I know he likes to put a lot of D-backs on the field and give them the freedom to roam around with the safety over the top," James said. "I'm really excited."
He met with Vikings officials at the NFLPA All-Star Game and got the feeling there was an interest in him. But with the whirlwind of teams and coaches he met with during the week of practice, teams tended to blur together, although he did remember the Vikings as a team he thought was interested.
As a sixth-round pick, he knows the odds of him making the final 53-man roster won't be easy, but he is confident in his ability to play a role on the team and excel in whatever tasks are asked of him.
"I think I can play special teams right away for sure," James said. "I think if I can get on the field, I can play nickel or I could even line up outside, but I know I can play."
Given Zimmer's mantra of having competition for every position on the roster – a philosophy that he has backed up by regularly having an undrafted free agent or two make the roster in most seasons with Cincinnati, James is looking forward to the chance to have the opportunity to open the eyes of coaching staff.
"Competition is the word," James said. "I'm going to do the best I can to prove to the coaches they made a good decision on me and for me to get to learn behind good corners and compete as hard as anyone out there."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
James: ‘All-around great cover corner'
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