Minnesota Vikings: Why They Must Draft Cornerback Quinten Rollins

Bill Hubbell@@billyhubbellContributor IJanuary 23, 2015

Miami (Ohio) defensive back Quinten Rollins, left, tries to stop Michigan running back Derrick Green (27) rushing for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
Tony Ding/Associated Press

Wait, the Minnesota Vikings must draft who?

OK, relax and take a deep breath. We're not talking about the first round here. What we're going to do is make the case that Vikings should draft cornerback Quinten Rollins out of Miami (Ohio) with their second-round pick, the 45th overall choice.

The Vikings will have plenty of options in the first round, but beefing up their secondary probably isn't one of them. While Minnesota certainly needs help on its back end on defense, the value just won't be there in the first round.

With cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith, the Vikings have two studs in their secondary, but the rest of the defensive backfield has been underwhelming.

Captain Munnerlyn was signed last year as a free agent, and he had a disappointing season by his own admission, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. The ideal spot for Munnerlyn is playing the slot in sub-packages, and the hope is that Minnesota can find a new starter opposite Rhodes.

What the Vikings need is a playmaker. While the defense was much improved in 2014, it still has a ways to go to be an elite unit. Minnesota finished tied for 18th in the league with 13 interceptions. It was 20th in the league in third-down conversion against and 31st in fourth-down conversion against.

Look at the top of the NFL's takeaway, giveaway list, and you'll see that turnover differential goes a long way toward success:

NFL Takeaway, Giveaway Leaders

                          Takes              Gives    

1Green Bay18927671314
2New England16925941312

Now obviously one cornerback isn't going to impact that statistic too dramatically, but adding another playmaker on the defensive side of the ball is a great place to start.

Smith led the Vikings with five interceptions this season, which was the most by any Viking since 2005. Rhodes took huge strides in his second season, and while he was among the league leaders in passes defensed, he still has just one career interception.

So if adding somebody in the secondary is so vital, why not use your first-round pick on someone? While it would be nice to add Alabama's Landon Collins to pair next to Smith at safety, it's hard to imagine him still being on the board when the Vikings pick.

And while there are several cornerbacks who are good enough to be first-rounders, none of them warrants being picked 11th.

That brings us to Rollins.

You may not have heard of him yet, but as the draft approaches you will.

Rollins has a phenomenal backstory, having played only one year of college football. Huh? One year? Forget about it, right?

Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Not so fast. Rollins is an elite athlete who spent four years playing point guard at Miami and ranks second all time for the school with 214 steals. With a year of eligibility left, Rollins wanted to scratch the football itch that had been nagging at him since he was a star in high school.

He put his toe in the water during spring football last year, and it went quite well. Rollins had earned a starting job by the time the season rolled around, and all he did was make 72 tackles, grab seven interceptions and record 16 passes defensed.

He was voted the team's MVP and won Defensive Player of the Year honors in the MAC. His name is on the MAC trophy just above linebacker Khalil Mack's, who won the award in 2013.

Is he a little on the raw side? Absolutely. Does he have a higher ceiling than perhaps any other corner in this year's draft? Yes.

With Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson on board as well as second-year man Jabari Price, Minnesota has decent depth at corner, but it needs a big-impact player to match with Rhodes to develop a secondary opponents fear.

Rollins is making waves at the Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Alabama, as Gary Laney of Cleveland.com reports. Rollins has the quickness and tenacity of a thieving point guard and clearly has a nose for the football, as his standout season at Miami indicates.

He'll be moving up draft boards quickly, and the Vikings will have to cross their fingers that he'll still be around by the time they choose in the second round.

“Depending on how he tests at the combine, I could see him being a 1st round pick” - @JoshNorris on Miami (OH) CB Quinten Rollins

— PFTonNBCSN (@PFTonNBCSN) January 22, 2015

NFL.com college football writer Bryan Fischer echoed those sentiments when he profiled Rollins on Wednesday.

Al Goldis/Associated Press

As mentioned earlier, the Vikings will have plenty of options with their first-round pick. Wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line and linebacker are probably all in play. It'll will be hard for Minnesota to go wrong, as you can make a compelling argument for a great player at all of those positions.

Where Minnesota will really nail the 2015 draft is if it can pick up a starter in the secondary in the second round. The thought here is that Quinten Rollins, the former basketball star, could be the steal of the 2015 draft.

He'd look really good in purple.

All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.


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