Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler is playing no games entering his sophomore season in the NFL.
Dantzler, the 11th cornerback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, came on late in the season and proved he should have been one of the top cornerbacks taken off the draft board last April.
Dantzler finished the 2020 season as the highest-graded rookie cornerback (70.9 overall) by Pro Football Focus. He also owned the fourth-highest run-defense grade (68.5), fifth-highest tackling grade (62.1) and coverage grade (69.8).
A Vikings fan recently shared the above Pro Football Focus metrics from Dantzler’s rookie year, raising the question of if Dantzler is a true No. 1 lockdown cornerback in the league.
While much of the NFL is still sleeping on Dantzler, he offered them a wake-up call by resharing the post.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE! PPL DO !! #HelloWorld https://t.co/x01FUWHRIM
— Cam Dantzler (@camdantzler3) April 8, 2021
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Dantzler Was the NFL’s Top CB for 6 Weeks
Dantzler, without a preseason or rookie minicamps, was named a Week 1 starter but missed two games with a rib injury and another after suffering a scary concussion against the Green Bay Packers in Week 9.
But once Dantzler came back, he shined.
Dantzler, stepping up for Eric Kendricks who suffered a pre-game groin injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars, intercepted the first pass of his career. He allowed just one catch on seven targets in coverage and also forced and recovered a fumble, earning Pro Football Focus’ Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in the Vikings’ 31-28 overtime victory over the Jaguars.
Cameron Dantzler makes a great play on the ball for his first NFL interception pic.twitter.com/5qW1RmEx7y
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) December 6, 2020
“It was tough because E.K., he’s a big part of our defense,” Dantzler said after the win over the Jaguars. “He’s a leader, but we all have that mentality: Next man up. And Todd Davis, he was ready, and he went out and he played really well.”
Through Weeks 10 to 16, Dantzler was Pro Football Focus’ No. 1-graded cornerback and allowed just a 31.1 quarterback rating when targeted, a lower grade than a 39.6 a quarterback would receive if they only spiked the ball every play.
Dantzler showed a drastic improvement from his 134.5 allowed quarterback rating through the first month of the season by becoming much more efficient in coverage. He allowed 13 receptions on 27 targets and broke up two passes in that six-week span before the New Orleans Saints game.
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Dantzler Named a Breakout Candidate in 2021
Pro Football Focus’ senior editor Sam Monson recently listed some of the league’s brightest breakout candidates, including Dantzler on his list.
Here’s what Monson wrote on Dantzler:
Only two rookie cornerbacks ended the season with a PFF grade above 70.0, and Cameron Dantzler was one of them. Dantzler’s rookie year wasn’t without growing pains, but he had two single-game PFF coverage grades above 90.0 and two performances in which he allowed five or fewer receiving yards.
He was always a talented playmaker but slid in the draft due to concerns about his size and speed. Dantzler showed in Year 1 he can still cover at a high level, and with a jump in Year 2, he could have a huge season within a defense badly in need of a top cover guy in the secondary.
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