For this run of Question of the Week, we left it more open-ended. Now that Vikings training camp is underway, we all weighed in with our thoughts. We would love to hear your reactions as well, so please let us know in the comments section!
What is your biggest observation or take-away from training camp so far?
Thus far, my biggest take away is that my suspicion that Terence Newman would start opposite Xavier Rhodes seems to be correct. Newman has spent time with the first team since camp opened and is seemingly in position to be dethroned from the starting role. Arguably one of the most important positions on a team in the NFCN, it will be interesting to see how well Newman’s body holds up at 36 years old.
People need to calm down about Trae Waynes. Outside of quarterback, cornerback is the most difficult position to transition to in the NFL from college. Yes, Trae Waynes was the Vikings’ first-round pick and yes, he was the first cornerback selected in this year’s draft, but the dude is going to look terrible at times this year. May as well get as many growing pains out of the way in camp and the preseason. I wouldn’t be shocked if he doesn’t start a game as a rookie and only sees time on subpackages and special teams. #VikingsTwitter should not freak out about this fact when it happens, but they will. Personally, I like the fact that Zimmer, Edwards, and Gray are seemingly throwing everything at Waynes right away and showing him no quarter. Fans and even Waynes himself may not like it at the moment, but everyone will be happy he was thrown in the fire right away when he and Xavier are the best cornerback combo in the NFL in a few years.
My biggest takeaway from camp has less to do with learning something new, and more to with confirming something we already knew. Prior to the Draft I insisted that the Vikings would be best off investing their first rounder into Trae Waynes and, like most Draft-related opinions, that idea was met with plenty of conflicting takes. One argument I saw a lot of was that cornerback was not a top need for the Vikings and it was a wasted pick. I responded by saying that if I had learned anything being a Vikings fan over my lifetime, it is that you can never have enough good cornerbacks on one roster. That adage has once again proven to be true, with injuries threatening the depth chart at the position, and we haven’t even kicked off the preseason yet. So, that’s my big takeaway in the aftermath of the Josh Robinson injury and Jabari Price suspension… you still can’t have enough good cornerbacks on one roster.
I think my biggest observation from camp thus far is to confirm that the Vikings did well with their 2015 Draft selections. Yes, Trae Waynes has a ways to go with transitioning into the NFL, but I think that’s to be expected–especially at the cornerback position. I’m actually most excited about our later draft picks, though. Eric Kendricks isn’t leaving much doubt that he will be an effective linebacker, and I like seeing the already-established relationship between him and Anthony Barr. At the offensive line position, I’m excited about the potential of T.J. Clemmings and Tyrus Thomas. Clemmings is meeting expectations, I think, while Thomas is exceeding them. Not being selected until the sixth round, Thomas came to Minnesota with a chip on his shoulder and a healthy hunger to compete. Not only do I think he’ll make the final roster, but I think he’ll eventually play a big role in the line.
Mike Zimmer loves to work with his defense, and that was abundantly clear during practice on Wednesday afternoon. While he worked with every cornerback, Zimmer focused much of his attention on Trae Waynes, the team’s first-round draft pick out of Michigan State. Together, they discussed alignments, route combinations, and footwork in between plays. And after positive or negative plays, Zimmer was in Waynes’s ear to help the young cornerback. Waynes has moved around a lot this training camp, from the outside to the nickel, where he took first-team reps today. He’s struggled at times, but Zimmer clearly believes in him, and Waynes looks to work into the starting lineup slowly, as Xavier Rhodes did in 2013.