Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rick Spielman

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Cheerleader Hug
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings were again at the center of trade speculation as pick number 45 approached Friday evening.

However, unable to strike a deal, the Vikings instead filled one of their most pressing needs with a player largely considered to be a first round talent.

UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks is the newest member of the Mike Zimmer’s defense, joining cornerback Trae Waynes as part of a continuing effort to dominate the defensive side of the football. Kendricks projects as an instant starter within the Vikings defense presuming his knee is healthy.

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Following a football season overrun with off-the-field issues, it seemed appropriate that GM Rick Spielman would open Friday afternoon’s press conference with a story to demonstrate Trae Waynes’ strong character.

According to Spielman, his brother-in-law lives in Chicago and has a friend whose daughter underwent cleft palate surgery earlier this week. Prior to the surgery, Waynes spent time with the child, taking a picture holding the infant. Spielman said the following:

I know what he can do on the football field, I know what kind of family he comes from, and right now I know what kind of person he is. 

When Waynes took the podium for the first time as a Minnesota Viking, he also paid credit to his family and his upbringing.

“My parents were hard on me and my brother,” he said. “My dad was actually my guidance counselor. They kept us out of trouble and raised us right. I owe all that to them.”

Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer both reemphasized their excitement for having Waynes here in Minnesota and the impact he will have on the team. Zimmer said that it seems most all players with outstanding athletic ability play offense nowadays, so it can be tough to find really good CBs in the Draft. The coach believes Waynes is an exception to that rule, however.

“Trae has excellent ball skills, he’s a great competitor, big heart,” he said.

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Trae Waynes Draft

5.5 hours… On the air…

The first round of the NFL Draft is in the books and thank you all who listed to the LIVE Stream right here on PurpleFTW.com and Vikings Territory. The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings have a 2nd shutdown corner to pair with Xavier Rhodes, Adrian was NOT traded, and Trader Rick did not live up to his name. Even though the first round was a bit… Vanilla… We still had a great time talking Vikings Draft with out fantastic guests and your tweets throughout the show. We chopped up the stream into podcast form. Thanks for listening and making Purple FTW! possible!

All the podcasts after the jump.

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Adrian Peterson carries the ball against the Carolina Panthers.
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

If reports were true, then the Vikings required at least a first round selection in exchange for future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson.

The first round of the 2015 NFL Draft came and went, however, and none of the first 32 picks were expended in order to acquire Peterson. Instead, he remains a Minnesota Viking and Rick Spielman tersely reiterated his stance on Thursday night.

There remains plenty of opportunity for Adrian Peterson to be traded throughout Draft Weekend, when training camp injuries begin taking a toll on other depth charts, and prior to the 2015 trade deadline. This evening was perhaps the biggest of all milestones, however, as Peterson still being on the roster is the most concrete indication to date that he will remain in Minnesota for the 2015 season.

Peterson, 30, has seen his image take a big hit within the Vikings fan communities over the last seven months and his potential return to the field will surely persist as the franchise’s most intriguing storyline this offseason.

Trae Waynes Draft

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:

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