Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY

Minnesota Vikings draftee Jack Tocho had head start on safety transition

Jack Tocho is making the switch from college cornerback to Minnesota Vikings safety, but he got a head start with his college practice routine and his intelligence should help, too.

Even before the Minnesota Vikings told Jack Tocho he would be moving to safety, the former college cornerback was making the transition.

Tocho, a seventh-round pick for Minnesota, was told right when he was drafted to start preparing for work at safety. 

Too late. 

Tocho had already been doing that his senior year at North Carolina State, even if it wasn’t on game day.

“Honestly, ever since my junior year I’ve been hearing talks about playing safety. When I was at N.C. State, I was playing a little bit of safety just to get ahead of the game in practice,” he said.

“The coaches kind of knew it, too, just felt that, just in case, it was something I could have in my back pocket.”

He had to pull those skills from his back pocket and put them on display at rookie minicamp less than a week after getting drafted and, from the sounds of it, his practice time at safety at N.C. State helped his transition.

“It’s been smoother than I thought. Playing corner helped me a lot because at safety I can keep more (vision) on the quarterback and keep more of the zones so I can slow the game down a lot more than it already was at corner,” he said.

The 6-foot, 202-pound defensive back has a relatively muscular body that looks like it would fit well at safety, but also says some of the skills he learned from playing cornerback for four years in the NCAA helped.

“When I was playing at N.C. State, we were a press-man team, basically a man-to-man team a lot at the corner position, so being able to cover from receivers to tight ends to running back, fullbacks, that really helps me play a lot more comfortably,” he said.

The mental transition shouldn’t be a problem, either.

Tocho played his senior season as a graduate who already had a major in finance and minor in accounting. In some ways, he can see his academic interests helping on the football field.

“I love math, so I was going to get that degree either way,” he said.

“As far as personnel, I can see personnel pretty quickly – 11, 12, 21 – I think it helps in that aspect. Being able to calculate numbers quickly I guess kind of translates to being able to see the number of people on the field and stuff like that.”

A week after being drafted, Tocho hadn’t had a chance to interact with some of the veteran safeties on the team, but he plans to hit them up when he does see them. That could start next week with the beginning of organized team activities.

“The process has been going rather rapidly right now so I’m just trying to hone in on the basic defenses they’ve been teaching us,” he said. “… Once I’m able to interact with them I will get some tidbits, some pointers.”

Until then, he’ll rely on the coaching he got at rookie minicamp, the preparation he received at safety during college practices in his senior season, and his overall intelligence to help him make the transition to safety.

He has one skill that should help enhance his transition.

“Football I.Q., and I just see things unfold a lot faster than most players, I believe,” he said. “That’s why the game is so slow for me and I’m able to read and react very quickly.”

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