The Vikings signed defensive back Chris Crocker and waived defensive end Rakim Cox, but what does that mean for the defense? Daniel House explains Crocker's role and how he will fit into Mike Zimmer's scheme.
Updated: August 4th, 2014 4:21pm
By: Daniel House
Sendejo could be behind and may not be ready to directly perform in Mike Zimmer's defense on the field at this time. Crocker is very familiar with the system and played under Zimmer in Atlanta and Cincinnati. Crocker, 34, has played for Mike Zimmer and is well versed in his scheme. He played a pivotal role in the Bengals defense last season and filled in for Leon Hall at nickel corner during a portion of the 2013 season.
The Vikings could have more flexibility with Crocker, especially considering his experience at defensive back and safety. Zimmer could implement more three safety looks like he did with Crocker in Cincinnati. The coaching staff has experimented with this scheme early in camp, but Crocker may have more knowledge and versatility than other defensive backs who currently in camp.
The Vikings have had a plethora of injuries at the safety position. With Robert Blanton injured and the uncertainty surrounding Andrew Sendejo being a definite concern, the Vikings were left to choose from Antone Exum, Jamarca Sanford, Kurt Coleman, Mistral Raymond and Brandan Bishop at safety. Raymond and Sanford have seen starting time, but aren't familiar with a scheme where they are heavily required to play in more zone looks. Kurt Coleman hasn't seen many first-team reps and is merely a special teams ace. Antone Exum is inexperienced and Brandan Bishop just hasn't saw many snaps.
Crocker has ten career interceptions under Zimmer and has been rated high by Pro Football Focus as a solid depth option in recent years. He could potentially challenge for a starting spot, but the signing doesn't indicate he is certain to make the team. Crocker could simply be joining the Vikings to see some reps and to gauge whether he can be a better fit in the system.
In 12 games in 2013, Crocker recorded 37 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 7 passes defenses and 2 interceptions, returning one interception for a touchdown. In 151 career games, he has notched 554 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 60 passes defensed and 15 interceptions.
It will be interesting to see how the Vikings utilize Crocker at the safety position, but it appears Mike Zimmer may have been looking for a familiar friend who can provide an upgrade to the defense.