Earlier today, the Vikings released former 2020 1st-round pick, Jeff Gladney, following a Texas grand jury indictment. This indictment stemmed from an April arrested for the felony assault of an ex-girlfriend.
The woman, who claimed Gladney tried to bribe her to keep quiet, suffered injuries to her neck and throat. Vikings owner Mark Wilf stated that the allegations were “very disturbing and something that’s concerning to us as ownership and to our organization.”
If convicted of all crimes, Gladney could face up to 10 years in prison. If guilty, Gladney should never play another down of football.
Cornerback is Stacked
While the loss of a young, talented, recent first-rounder is heartbreaking, I think the Vikings did a good job at covering their losses. Given their moves in free agency, it seemed that they anticipated moving on from Gladney if the charges were continued.
If adding Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander in the first wave of free agency did not spell Gladney’s release, the more recent addition of Bashaud Breeland certainly did. Each of these players adds depth and versatility to a defense that was on crutches by the season’s end.
P2 may not be the franchise cornerstone he once was, but he is certainly an upgrade over last season’s unit. He still recorded three interceptions last year and proved he can still be an asset. With more formidable players around him, he could even return to Pro Bowl form.
Mack Alexander has shown year after year that he is one of the game’s best nickel defenders. In his first four years in Minnesota, Alexander developed into their most reliable corner. After a season in Cincy, Mack Attack is back.
A member of the 2020 Super Bowl-winning Chiefs, Breeland has proven to be a capable starter. Breeland excels against the pass and now in a deep room, he will be a threat for some big plays.
With Cameron Dantzler returning from a promising rookie season and role backups Kris Boyd and Harrison Hand proving they could fill in, the Vikings’ CB room looks just fine. It would have been amazing to see Dantzler and Gladney grow into a star duo for years to come. Based on their rookie years, I think it was even fair to say there were already signs of that.
The Vikings Reloaded Their Defense
While the corners are undoubtedly better than last season, they may not have to be. With the defense rested and revamped, the CBs will have a much easier time in 2021.
Xavier Woods replaces the struggling Anthony Harris in the secondary. Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, and Eric Kendricks are back from injuries that derailed the Vikes in 2020.
Additionally, the Vikings now have three options to slot in besides Barr and Kendricks at linebacker. Newly drafted Chazz Surratt and free-agent find Nick Vigil will join Cam Smith. Smith is returning from surgery to correct a congenital heart defect discovered after testing positive for Covid-19 and looks to be the favorite to land that spot.
The defensive line, perhaps the weakest link in 2020, could potentially be a top 10 unit. Adding Sheldon Richardson, Dalvin Tomlinson, and getting Michael Pierce gives Minnesota the best defensive tackle trio in football. Hunter is one of the best young pass rushers in football and now has a chance to prove how much he really means to that defense.
Combine that with the emerging DJ Wonnum, and you have the ingredients for a complete turnaround. In fact, the Vikings’ front seven may be their most versatile yet, with DJ Wonnum reportedly taking snaps at linebacker. If the coverage can hold up well enough to get those five on the field at the same time, watch out NFL.