The Vikings had a much better secondary in 2012 than they finished with in 2011.
Chris Cook has become an above-average cornerback, and Josh Robinson seems to be progressing well. Harrison Smith looks to be a hit, and Jamarca Sanford has vastly improved his game. Antoine Winfield, one of the best free agent signings in recent Vikings history, still plays at a elite level, but he's aging and could leave soon.
Even with strong play in 2012, the Vikings need to ensure they have depth in case a corner goes down or Winfield leaves. It's a deep cornerback class, and the Vikings could look to the middle rounds to help set themselves up for years to come.
Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
The Vikings likely won't be in a position to pick Poyer, as he may have moved his stock all the way into the first round. While not the fastest cornerback, he plays with extremely solid fundamentals.
His best talent is his play in press coverage. He's strong off the snap and can jam receivers out of their routes. He also recovers well and has fluid hips to make the transition. This week he read some receivers incorrectly, but that is at odds with his film—his skill in anticipating routes is consistent and proven in game situations when he's had the chance to study film on his opponents.
Poyer can play in many schemes and has shown the awareness in zone coverage to play well in the Vikings system. With the ability to funnel receivers inside, it's a bit of a shame that the Vikings won't be able to select him.
Leon McFadden, San Diego State
Despite his size (a hair under 5'9"), McFadden is the best cornerback on the South squad. He plays with surprising physicality and can reroute receivers. He has excellent athleticism, and his entire body seems primed to play football. He has fluid movement and can flip his hips without committing too much with his shoulders—critical in preventing savvy receivers from forcing him out of position.
He's very technically sound and knows how to time his jumps so he can get his hands on the ball. With excellent ball skills, he's been able to come away with a few interceptions in practice and reads receivers well. His recovery speed has been described as "phenomenal,"and is rarely caught out of position.
Desmond Trufant, Washington
Trufant looks to have improved his draft stock and was constantly praised by coaches. He shows extraordinary competitiveness and looked to be the most "NFL-ready" cornerback in practice. Trufant has an excellent backpedal, which should help his stock with Cover 3 teams, and he can break on the ball with the best of them—part of the reason he's always getting his hands on the ball.
While he had many small mistakes over the course of the week, Trufant consistently leveraged his flexibility, acceleration and excellent footwork to work his way back into position before the mistakes he made were exploited. Trufant shows the ability to play the slot and on the outside, and his 5'11" frame is well suited for either spot.
Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana
Alford has excellent quickness that should serve him well on a number of routes, and certainly has value in the NFL. He executed nearly all of his assignments well this week and showed an ability to play in zone, pattern-match assignments and man-to-man situations. Alford might be best pressing receivers, disrupting a wide variety of routes on the line or on the fly.
Alford doesn't have the deep speed one wants from an outside cornerback, and his recovery speed isn't phenomenal either, but he's rarely out of position and displays great balance.
Johnathan Cyprien, Florida International
Cyprien possess the macro-level traits that all scouts love to see in safeties: He hits hard and has fantastic range. With an impressive build and quick reaction time, Cyprien has quickly forced the South quarterbacks to look off of him in seven on seven drills.
He looks more to play in the box than as a deep safety, but he's not useless in coverage. While he shouldn't be put up man-to-man against a receiver, he can play with good zone awareness and limits yards after the catch.
On the ground, he generally takes good angles and can dislodge the ball with his strips and big hits. He might be able to complement Smith when Harrison plays up top.
Not many safeties stood out as having consistently solid practices, even with big names like Bacarri Rambo and T.J. McDonald. Rambo, from Georgia, displayed the variety of talents he's known for, but was indecisive and couldn't set correctly in practice. McDonald was streaky, and his recognition was spotty. Unfortunately, his playing style relies on aggressively attacking the ball, and misdiagnosis leaves him out to dry, particularly because he can't recover well.
J.J. Wilcox from Georgia Southern is an intriguing safety prospect, and is extremely physical, but allows too much separation when in assignment. He has good agility and fluidity at the waist, but he's raw and needs time to develop.
Opposite Rambo at Georgia was Shawn Williams, and he didn't look terrible this week, but was he special either. He can redirect receivers and plays with physicality, but isn't terribly strong or consistent in coverage. There are also potential problems with him causing pass interference down the field.
Robert Lester from Alabama looked terrible. While an impressive physical specimen, he played stiff and without speed. He couldn't react to new developments downfield and has poor change-of-direction ability. He has a limited ceiling.
If the Vikings are still interested in cornerbacks, the Connecticut pair of Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gratz should grab some attention. Gratz has had issues with speed, but has played receivers well enough at times to create small passing windows. He can push receivers around and it's difficult for them to do much in response, given his strength and thick frame. He's limited, but can play a zone scheme fairly well.
His teammate Wreh-Wilson comes from the opposite mold, being both fast and tall. He can play with strength, but is much more of a ball-hawk. He showed that anticipation in practice, but still struggled to consistently shut down receivers.