Well, Vikings fans, there you have it. With the No. 11 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Minnesota has selected cornerback Trae Waynes.
With Amari Cooper and Brandon Scherff off the board early (No. 4 and No. 5, respectively), lots of buzz started around who would fall to No. 11.
By the time Minnesota was on the clock, zero trades had happened in a Draft night rumored to have several of them. Plenty of Vikings fans expected GM Rick Spielman to trade down, but Slick Rick didn’t make any moves, and Waynes will don the purple and gold.
Waynes is a 2014 second-team All-American, a 2014 first-team All-Big Ten, and a 2014 Thorpe Award semifinalist. The CB played 36 games with Michigan State, making 27 consecutive starts. During that time, he tallied 101 tackles, 13 pass break-ups and six interceptions.
“[Going down the check boxes], Trae Waynes had every box we wanted when we draft a Minnesota Vikings player,” said Spielman in the post-pick presser.
The GM acknowledged the fact that they had considered trying to move lower, but the opportunity just wasn’t there.
“We did have a lot of activity come up to us, but some of the offers to trade down […] the value just wasn’t there. As much as you’d like to do some movement, when there’s a player there you covet […] not always worth it to make a trade just to make a trade.”
Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer both emphasized that Waynes is a good fit for the Vikings scheme and has the physical traits and athleticism that Minnesota will benefit from. Zimmer said the following in his press conference:
It’s important to have guys with great character, great leadership, great competitors, and then obviously the athletic ability that [Waynes] has. Everyone says I love good cornerbacks, and I guess maybe I do—but I love good football players more than I love corners.
One knock against Waynes has been that he doesn’t have a ton of interceptions on his resume. Zimmer doesn’t see that as a problem, however. According to the coach, only the Pro Bowl is really based on how many interceptions a player gets.
“My whole mentality is how many times do you deny your guy the football?” Zimmer said. “You get a chance to do that maybe 40 times per game.”
Zimmer did acknowledge that there are a few things left wanting for Waynes, saying the CB is “a little grabby.” Waynes’ upside is invaluable, though, and the coaches feel confident that some of the negatives seen on the tape can be worked out.
And how does Waynes feel about coming to Minnesota?
He couldn’t be happier. In a conference call to Winter Park, Waynes immediately explained that Minnesota was his first visit and he had a good feeling about the Vikings from the beginning. When the No. 11 pick was approaching, he felt confident his name would be called.
Mike Zimmer is a good coach. He knows what he’s doing […] I’m diverse. I can play however he wants me to.
Emotions and excitement were clear in Waynes’ voice over the call, and it seems clear that he’s ready to start his time in the Twin Cities. He knows the skill set he has to offer will fit with Zimmer’s defense scheme, and he plans to compete for a starting position in 2015.
Welcome to the Minnesota Vikings, Trae.
Check out some of Waynes’ Michigan State highlights here: