Josh Robinson and Chris Cook Will Improve the Minnesota Vikings Secondary
The above title only becomes applicable if the two players have their heads on straight, though.
Josh Robinson and Chris Cook are the two breakout stars that I expect to improve the secondary.
The Vikings too often have players like Cook who are unable to take advantage of their incredible physical gifts because of off-field issues.
I truly believe that Cook is a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback. After all, he coped admirably with the receiving options of rivals in the NFC North.
According to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, following Cook's suspension in 2011, opponents' completion percentage rose almost 10 percent while opposing quarterbacks also saw their passer ratings go from 78.6 to126.6.
By no means does this mean that Cook was the main reason for the incapable secondary, but it does show that he was missed.
There are very few cornerbacks in the NFL who are 6'2", 200 lbs-plus and run a 4.46 40-yard dash time. That is why I believe he is a unique talent.
Physical attributes aside, he also has the skills to cover even the best wide receivers. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the NFL, but Cook coped very well in that battle and probably had the best pass break-up I saw all season in the second quarter of the Week 3 matchup—a backward-diving Cook tipped the ball away from the 6'5" Johnson to prevent a sure touchdown.
Cook fits the Viking defense perfectly because he has enough size to match up with the biggest receivers, using his strength to jam them at the line of scrimmage and disrupt their route.
Cook seems to have a new-found dedication to the Vikings, and I think fans should be excited by that.
I'm not really sure what to make of the issues Cook has faced.
You can look at the fact that he missed a year at Virginia because of academics, but he also became a team captain in 2010 and really stood out, becoming a high draft pick in the process.
Now, he is going to have to overcome the issues that have clouded his NFL career and caused him to be inactive for more games than he has been available.
All I know is that he has all the skills needed to be a top player.
If you look at most of his scouting reports from 2010, they all say the same thing: Cook has safety size, cornerback speed and fits the zone coverage system very well.
The Vikings hope so anyway.
Robinson is another really talented player that I thought was drafted a little later—in the third round—than he should have been.
Besides having a great combine, Robinson also had a junior year that showcased all the skills needed to shine in a zone system, much like the base defense of the Vikings.
Robinson may be touted as a speedster, but he has starter potential and was possibly my favorite selection of Minnesota's promising 2012 draft class.
With Antoine Winfield and Cook likely to be the starting cornerbacks, Robinson will most likely get playing time in a nickelback role.
He has rare speed, and from watching his highlights, I can tell you that he is a solid tackler and aid in run support.
That being said, he lacks the size to really disrupt bigger receivers.
But I'm just excited to see an elite athlete with 4.29 speed, a near 40" vertical and good range get a chance on the defense.
All of his flaws are unlikely to be exploited with the Vikings straight away; I doubt he will be forced into man coverage against bigger receivers.
Every team should have a player who is a playmaker and who has the "swagger" that all great athletes have.
Robinson has this.
Overall, I think Cook will be a top-10 cornerback in the NFL next year, and I also expect Robinson to be a valuable cornerback, much like the San Francisco 49ers Chris Culliver, who was also a third-round cornerback from 2011.
The Vikings are in rebuild mode, and with numerous talented cornerbacks and the influx of safety help in the mold of Robert Blanton and fellow Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, I'm expecting the secondary to be the best in the NFC North.
Yes, I just said "best".
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