How Trae Waynes Would Impact Vikings Defense


Nov 22, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback

Trae Waynes

(15) stands on the field between plays during the1st half of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit:

Mike Carter


In the past few days, one name has begun to emerge as a favorite for the Minnesota Vikings’ number eleven overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. According to Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft Scout Matt Miller, the Vikings are “in love” with Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes.

Waynes is projected to fall to the Vikings in numerous mock drafts on the web, including Mel Kiper Jr.’s of ESPN. Waynes has also fallen into the top five in some mock drafts, so there’s no doubt that he is viewed as a talented player. In fact, he’s likely the best cornerback in this draft.

Waynes, at 6’0″ and 186 pounds, has decent size for the cornerback position. His solid length and great ball skills are great attributes to have as an NFL cornerback. Additionally, Waynes has shown the ability to be very good in press coverage situations, something that current Vikings’ corner Xavier Rhodes also excels at. Moreover, Waynes is great in zone coverage and has the rare ability to anticipate throws from the quarterback.

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  • Waynes is also a very physical cornerback, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. Because of his physicality, he is able to be strong press coverage cornerback and can battle with receivers at the line of scrimmage. However, this sometimes gets him in trouble because he tends to overcompensate his weak frame by being too physical, often drawing penalties.

    It would be crazy for me to forget Waynes’ athleticism. He shined at the NFL Combine and was able increase his draft stock dramatically with a 4.31 40-yard dash time. Yes, you read that right. 4.31. Not too shabby.

    Check out this highlight video of Trae Waynes I found.

    As far as fitting in with the Mike Zimmer defense, Waynes would be an excellent addition and would have no problem finding his role.

    The Vikings were very weak at the cornerback position last season other than Xavier Rhodes. To improve this weakness, the Vikings signed veteran cornerback Terence Newman who will likely be the preseason starter opposite of Rhodes. Additionally, this will allow Captain Munnerlyn to move to his best role, which is as a slot cornerback.

    If the Vikings do pull the trigger on Waynes, the plan will likely be to gradually increase his reps as the season wears on. He would start the season behind Newman on the depth chart with the possibility of starting at any time should either Newman or Rhodes get injured. Eventually, Waynes would probably be a starter once he is fully comfortable and has learned enough from watching Newman.

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    A talented young cornerback like Waynes could help this defense immensely. It would definitely lessen the pressure on safeties Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton, who were more or less exposed in 2014 due to the lack of a solid cornerback opposite of Rhodes. In recent years, the Vikings secondary has been, well, abysmal. While that did improve in 2014 under Zimmer, this is still a big piece that was missing.

    If Waynes can develop and grow into the potential that he has, the starting cornerback combination of Rhodes and Waynes would be deadly for opposing teams. This might not happen right away, but a couple of years down the road is realistic.

    In recent months, I have been suggesting that the Vikings draft a wide receiver like DeVante Parker or Kevin White with the 11th overall pick. However, the more I look at Waynes, the more he seems like a great fit with the Vikings. he would feel right at home on this Vikings defense among a bunch of other young, talented players. As a fan, if the Vikings drafted Waynes, I wouldn’t complain one bit.

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