Can Cameron Dantzler be Minnesota’s CB1?


Jul 29, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s very difficult to win in the NFL without a true #1 corner. For a time, Patrick Peterson was among the game’s best, but he’s getting toward the end of his career. Can Cameron Dantzler become a true CB1 in Minnesota? Has he already gotten there?

The 24-year-old Dantlzer has been in the NFL for a couple seasons. As a rookie, he put together some strong play, leading to his inclusion in the 2020 NFL All-Rookie Team. For a variety of reasons, the promising play as a rookie didn’t lead to a full-time starter’s role during his sophomore season in 2021.

He did, however, put together some notable statistics. He played in 14 games, starting 7. QBs only completed 54.1% of their passes into his coverage. He allowed an average of 8.7 yards per completion. By the end of the year, QBs had a 74.7 quarterback rating when targeting him in coverage. Overall, some strong statistics, ones that suggest it can be challenging to target Dantzler in coverage.

If that’s the case, then why wasn’t Cameron Dantzler already the team’s CB1?

Adding to his case for the top spot in Minnesota’s defense is his PFF grade. He finished the 2021 season as the 17th-best corner in their system, suggesting the young corner was inching toward elite territory. Currently, he is 29th in their system.

For whatever its worth, his tackling has always been excellent. He’s an aggressive, physical tackler who regularly makes plays on ball carriers who venture toward his end of the field. At times, I think back to Antoine Winfield when watching Dantzler. Winfield was an excellent tackler for the Vikings for a long time.

Leading into the draft, there was a fair bit of concern about Dantzler’s speed, or lack thereof. So far, it hasn’t been a major issue in the NFL. To be clear, Dantzler isn’t the fastest corner in the league, but he does a nice job of hanging with his man when he’s dialed-in. The Eagles could do essentially whatever they wanted against the Vikings defense in Week 2, but Dantzler was able to contest some catches. He did pick up a pass defended in that game (and a TFL).

Part of the key for Dantzler will rest in eliminating the major errors. Allowing the long TD to Quez Watkins was backbreaking. Philly presents all kinds of challenges, so losing a man in coverage really took the wind out of the defense’s sails.

Speaking to the media earlier this week, Ed Donatell addressed the play of his young corner: “He played hard and he played tough in that game.” Shortly thereafter, Donatell suggested that taking him out of the game was for “rest” and that “he’ll be back in there ready to go this week.” Some of the focus rested on the error Dantzler made in allowing the long TD, but the DC did clarify that the team does have “trust” with him.

So, we circle back to the central question: can Cameron Dantzler be the CB1 for these Vikings?

Folks, the potential is there. We can all see that Dantzler is a great tackler and is someone who can contest catches. Bringing in all together to put forth excellent play on a game-in, game-out basis would help solidify him as one of the NFL’s best corners.


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