During the 2007 season, the Vikings had numerous visits and workouts for street free-agent cornerbacks, indicating they were in search of better depth at the position. Those indications continue as the team prepares for the 2008 NFL Draft.
While the Vikings signed one free-agent cornerback for depth, Benny Sapp, they have also drafted cornerbacks in the second and third rounds of the last two drafts. Now they are scheduled to visit with University of Iowa cornerback Charles Godfrey.
The 5-foot-11 ½, 207-pound cornerback ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash, but Scout.com's Tom Marino, a longtime former NFL scout, believes Godfrey doesn't play as fast as he times.
"Does have quick feet and short-area quickness. A lot of bail technique, which leads me to believe that he would be best suited to play in a Cover-2 scheme or move inside to the safety position," Marino wrote in his evaluation of Godfrey. "Showed a tendency to bite on double moves and was late to turn and go – lets receiver close cushion far too quickly."
Still, Marino believes Godfrey can be a fourth- or fifth-round pick.
Godfrey described himself as a physical player who likes man-to-man coverage the best but also thinks he can play well in a Cover-2 scheme like the Vikings often employ.
"It doesn't matter what coverage it is, I'm good at everything. I love to tackle. I love to come up and support the run. Pretty much the total package," Godfrey said at the NFL Scouting Combine, later adding, "I have a strength, man-to-man. Cover-2 also, because I'm able to put my hands on a receiver. Cover-3 you're kind of playing off and you're playing a deep zone so you really don't have no control of re-routing the receiver, so I would say man and Cover-2."
While Godfrey was trying to sell himself at the Combine, he knows he needs to refine his technique to be consistent at the NFL level, despite being named honorable mention All-America by Pro Football Weekly and second-team All-Big Ten by the conference coaches and honorable mention by the media in 2007.
"What I think I need to improve on is knowing that going to the next level that any false step or any small different adjustment that you miss can hurt you because guys are faster at the next level and they take advantage of the mistakes you make, so you have to be very sound in your technique," he said.
While he enjoys playing man-to-man the most, he realizes that most teams use some form of a zone defense a good amount of the time.
"Now in the NFL, shutdown corner is not so much man-to-man, it's the guys that's not getting as many balls caught on them because now, besides the Green Bay Packers, they're running man to man every snap. But you don't find too many teams in the NFL now that just run it straight man, all they run is man. You have to be a guy that is versatile that can play more than one coverage and also can come up and support the run and tackle nowadays. Because if you're a corner and you can't tackle in the NFL – you've got these big running backs, if you can't bring them down – you're going to be in trouble."
Godfrey's tackling ability really came to the forefront his junior season, when he had 83 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. His play on the ball showed more in his senior statistics, when he had 65 tackles and five interceptions – the most by a Hawkeye since 2003.
While the Vikings can appreciate his penchant for physical play – a desirable attribute for cornerbacks in the team's Tampa-2 defense – they likely also appreciate his special teams contributions. During his first three seasons of play at Iowa, he won three different special teams honors from the team.
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