Jeff Gladney Drafted by Vikings: Minnesota's Updated Depth Chart After Round 1

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2020

TCU defensive back Jeff Gladney runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The Minnesota Vikings jumped at the opportunity to add one of the most talented cornerbacks available in the 2020 NFL draft and selected TCU's Jeff Gladney on Thursday. 

Gladney went to the Vikings with the No. 31 overall pick, adding much-needed help to their secondary. 

Here's what Minnesota's defensive depth chart looks like with the former TCU star:

LDE - Danielle Hunter, Eddie Yarbrough

DT - Michael Pierce, Jaleel Johnson

DT - Shamar Stephen, Jalyn Holmes

RDE - Ifeadi Odenigbo, Anthony Zettel

OLB - Anthony Barr, Eric Wilson

MLB - Eric Kendricks, Cameron Smith

OLB - Ben Gedeon, DeMarquis Gates

CB - Jeff Gladney, Mike Hughes, Holton Hill

CB - Nate Meadors, Kemon Hall

FS - Anthony Harris

SS - Harrison Smith

Gladney may not have looked destined for the NFL when he arrived at TCU as a 3-star prospect in the 2015 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings, but he wasted little time making an impact following a redshirt season.

He notched 46 tackles in his first year, two interceptions in his second year, two more interceptions in his third year and then anchored the Horned Frogs secondary in 2019 with 31 tackles, one interception and a Big 12-best 14 passes defended.

TCU coaches surely felt comfortable leaving him on an island at times, as Pro Football Focus noted Gladney led all cornerbacks in this draft in career forced incompletions on third downs.

He did so while facing dynamic offenses in the Big 12 that rarely hesitated to throw the ball downfield or underneath on quick-hitter routes.

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Even against those impressive playmakers, Gladney pressed at the line of scrimmage, had the speed to stay with pass-catchers after the initial point of contact and was enough of a ball hawk to accumulate so many passes defended during his collegiate career.

Lance Zierlein of pointed to Gladney's versatility to play in man or zone schemes, "route anticipation" and "excellent hand usage and strength to re-route the release" when listing his strengths.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller projected the Horned Frogs cornerback as a first-round pick in an April mock draft, noting "TCU's Jeff Gladney is a fantastic press cover man who plays much bigger than his 5'10" size would indicate. He's NFL-ready to play at the line of scrimmage and wreck any receiver."

That type of skill set should help him find a spot on Minnesota's depth chart during his rookie year.

Minnesota let Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes leave in free agency, making cornerback a necessary position to address in the draft. 

Defenses often rotate cornerbacks throughout games in today's pass-happy NFL, and Gladney is well-positioned to see significant playing time in his first professional season. The Vikings were a middling 15th in the league in passing yards allowed in 2019 and can use the positional depth after losing Rhodes this offseason.