One of the pillars of the Minnesota Vikings' defense over the years has been the play of their cornerbacks. As Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander have all departed through free agency, it leaves behind a wasteland where Mike Hughes is the most tenured cornerback on the roster with five career starts.
Fortunately for the Vikings, this draft class is loaded at the cornerback position. With several cornerbacks that are big, physical and fast, Mike Zimmer should be like a kid in a candy store trying to pick out which one he likes.
Although the top corner in Jeffrey Okudah will likely be off the board by the time the Vikings are on the clock, there should be plenty of options.
Kristian Fulton (LSU)
There are several prospects that the Vikings would be doing backflips over if they fell to No. 22 and Fulton is one of them. Standing at six feet and 200 pounds, he has the size that Zimmer craves and with a 4.46-second 40, he's fast enough to keep up with speedy receivers.
Fulton's biggest strength lies in his ability to match up in man coverage. He's physical at the line of scrimmage and his ability to press could be on par with Rhodes assuming he gets proper coaching.
Although there are times he can get too aggressive, that can be fixed. With a gaping hole at the top of the depth chart, Fulton is the type of corner that can step in and contribute right away.
C.J. Henderson (Florida)
While Fulton is the leader of the second tier of corners, Henderson isn't far behind. At 6'1" and 202 pounds, he has a similar build to Fulton, but is even faster running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine.
Where Henderson has an advantage is his ability to make plays on the ball. As a three-year starter for the Gators, Henderson collected six interceptions including four in his freshman year. He also has two career interception returns for touchdowns.
One of the big knocks against Henderson is his willingness to tackle as he never recorded more than 26 during his time in Gainesville. Still, teams are enamored with Henderson's skillset and the Vikings could see him off the board by the time they're on the clock.
Jeff Gladney (TCU)
Out of all the corners at the top of this class, Gladney might be the best fit for the Vikings. He's a little lighter than Henderson and Fulton at 183 pounds, but he still stands at six feet and plays like a bulldog.
One of Gladney's best traits is as a tackler as he's willing to stick his nose into a play and get dirty. Gladney also is a solid cover corner that has great speed, technique and has the recovery skills to make plays he has very little business making.
There might be prospects with more upside, but the Vikings are in need of corners that can step in and produce. With a well-rounded game, Gladney has the ability to do just that and would pair well with either Henderson or Fulton if the Vikings use both first-round picks on corners.
Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn)
Ibinoghene went to Auburn as a highly touted wide receiver recruit, but left as one of the fastest rising prospects in this year's class. He has adequate size and speed for Zimmer's scheme and the scariest part is he's still developing.
Developing into a top corner in the SEC isn't a joke either and Igbinoghene was impressive showing quickness and strength to match up with a team's alpha receiver. He also can contribute in stopping the run with 92 total tackles in his two seasons on defense.
As Gopher fans may be able to attest, Igbinoghene also can contribute in the kick return game, where the Vikings haven't had a touchdown since Cordarrelle Patterson left after the 2016 season. He's a project, but if the Vikings trust Hughes to start, Igbinoghene can be Zimmer's top developmental prospect.
Trevon Diggs (Alabama)
Forget the last name for a second and realize that Diggs is a solid cornerback that can help the Vikings. At 6'2" and 207 pounds, he has great size for the position and although he has issues tackling, his press coverage is off-the-charts good.
Pro Football Focus called Diggs' ability in coverage like a Venus Fly Trap and graded him as the sixth-best corner in the nation in 2019. This is not bad for a player who also didn't become a full-time corner until his sophomore season.
As a playmaker who recorded three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns last season, he could be something the Viking defense is sorely lacking.