To add to the growing stockpile of Notre Dame alum on the team, the Vikings selected CB Robert Blanton. Blanton joins Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson, John Sullivan and Harrison Smith as the fifth Fighting Irish alum to don Purple and Gold. Anyone expecting Blanton to make an immediate impact as a Viking is kidding themselves. He lacks the speed needed in the NFL to cover elite receivers. However, with Chris Cook, Antoine Winfield and Harrison Smith, the Vikings shouldn’t require that of him. With the increasing need to have five or six defensive backs on the field on select downs, Blanton should be able to find playing time in those situations.
At 6’1″, 208-pounds, Blanton makes up for his lack of speed and quickness with his physical style of play. He’s not afraid to elbow up with a tight end. However, for a player that needs a lot of things to go right to see significant playing time this year, it doesn’t exactly instill confidence when he qualifies his biggest weakness as his “making sure I’m hungry and consistent every play.” For someone lacking elite CB skills, he will need to make up for it with intelligence, consistency and sheer will.
Ultimately, Blanton adds depth to the secondary. The Vikings should find ways to maximize his abilities by putting him on the field as a supplemental defensive back, not as a primary defender. NFL Network’s Mike Maycock flagged Blanton as a sleeper pick before the draft and Vikings brass believe that’s what they got. In a depleted secondary, however, he could be put in situations that don’t accentuate his talents. If that’s the case, it may be a short-lived life as a Viking. If it is, he’ll still find a role on another team that can fully utilize his abilities. Growing up an Air Force brat with his family moving around frequently when he was younger, Blanton may be able to role with moving easily. Hopefully we don’t see that day come, though, and he excels in our system.