The Vikings' quest to upgrade the depth in their secondary doesn't start and end with the top cornerbacks available in the draft. They are reportedly scheduled to have a mid-round prospect in as part of their mass predraft visits.
Vanderbilt safety Myron Lewis is scheduled to visit the Vikings as part of their April 6-7 predraft gathering, during which they typically have close to 30 prospects visit with coaches and other staff at Winter Park and then have dinner.
Lewis is currently the 18th-ranked cornerback on Scout.com's NFL draft rankings. He performed most of the drills at the NFL Scouting Combine last month and checked in at 6-foot-1 ½ and 203 pounds and ran a 4.51 40-yard dash, but some draftniks wonder if he might project to safety. His physical game could lend itself well to the Vikings' expectations of cornerbacks in their Tampa-2 defensive system.
Lewis earned second-team All-SEC honors his final two seasons at Vanderbilt, when he had 41 tackles, 12 passes defensed and four interceptions as a senior and 76 tackles (seven for a loss), six passes defenses, four interceptions, five sacks and two forced fumbles as a junior. Part of his drop in production from his junior to senior seasons is attributed to teams respecting him more and avoiding him in their passing game.
According to NFLDraftScout.com, Lewis "reads and recognizes the motive of the receiver and puts himself in position to make plays. Will read the action in the backfield and can jump routes. Recognizes run quickly and attacks the line of scrimmage."
Of course, the Vikings appear to have a need for a developmental defensive back. Antoine Winfield will turn 33 years old before the start of the 2010 season and missed six games last year due to a fractured foot, which also limited him for the rest of the season after his return. The other starting cornerback, Cedric Griffin, tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the opening kickoff of overtime in the NFC Championship Game and might not be ready for action by the start of the regular season. The Vikings recently re-signed Benny Sapp and they have last year's third-round draft pick, Asher Allen, in reserve. However, the team did allow Karl Paymah to leave via free agency.
Fortunately for the Vikings, this draft is considered deep at cornerback, and they are expected to have several value-pick options at the end of the first round. However, with value into the middle rounds, they could opt to hold off on selecting a cornerback until then.
That's where their interest in a physical cornerback that plays well in zone schemes could come into the picture.
Here is NFL Draft Scout's assessment of Lewis on that point: "Rare height and bulk for the cornerback position. Good straight-line speed. Alert defender who reads the quarterback's eyes. Times leaps and competes well for jump balls. Physical, versatile defender. Good open-field tackler."
He is also considered willing and active in run support, a key element the Vikings look for in their cornerbacks.
He also possesses the intelligence they like. He graduated in December with a degree in Human and Organizational Development and was part of a 2008 Academic Honor Roll.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Vikings to visit with defensive back
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