NFL Draft 2015

NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings Introduce Trae Waynes in Afternoon Presser

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:

[pull_quote_center]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. [/pull_quote_center]

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.

Waynes described the emotional roller coaster over the past 24 days, from the pre-draft anxiety to the excitement of traveling to Minnesota.

“After I got that call, I was able to breathe a little bit,” Waynes said. “And then I realized I’d be able to start on this new journey.”

The cornerback is thrilled to be play in Minnesota—not only because it will be closer proximity to his family, but because he understands the depth and talent of Zimmer’s defense and what that means for him as a player.

[pull_quote_center]Coach Zim’s a DB guru […] I’m really excited to see what type of player he can make me into, and hopefully I can make an impact on his defense.[/pull_quote_center]

When asked about the threatening offense of NFC North rival teams, Waynes welcomed the question rather than shying away from it. He assured that he will be spending a lot of time in the film room, but that he’s excited for the challenge and “embrace[s] competition.”

Waynes spoke to the skillset he learned at Michigan State and the strong coaching system there for CBs. According to Waynes, there were schemes and play options the defense learned even if they were never used in a game. Preparation seems to be a common theme for Waynes, and the maturity level is impressive.

Toward the end of the presser, one media member asked Waynes about the potential he had in college to pursue professional baseball. He smiled before answering:

“Football is my passion. This is what I love to do. I got ejected for [baseball] two games because I ran over the catcher out of frustration, so obviously I needed to stick with football. This is my dream.”


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Lindsey Young

Lindsey Young (Featured Columnist) is a graduate of University of Northwestern – St. Paul and is an avid Minnesota sports fan[atic]. It’s been argued females don’t know much about sports, but she begs to differ. Her work has been featured on Bleacher Report,, and Fox Sports North. In addition to her work with VT, Lindsey is a contributing writer for Canis Hoopus, runs a bi-monthly fan feature for and is a freelance writer for You can read her blog at Making the Call and follow her on Twitter.

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  1. Great stuff Lindsey. I have been sceptical about Waynes but I think we all need to embrace him glad to see the strong values he has and I can’t wait to see him in action. In Zimmer I trust. P.S. just glad we didn’t get Parker! !! Skoll Vikings drink from the skull cap of Rogers

    1. Thanks for reading! I agree — I wasn’t completely sold on Waynes, but because Zimmer knows defenses and DBs so well, I am feeling pretty optimistic about it. We’ll see how everything plays out 🙂

  2. There’s a lot of questioning of this pick. Some of it is warranted and for good reason. The Waynes selection may have divided the Vikings fan base between those who believed they should have built around the QB and taken Teddy’s former teammate and a helluva receiver in Devante Parker and those who believed they should have continued to build defense and were happy with the new corner to go bookend to Xavier Rhodes.

    The debate can go on for days, weeks, years even… Yes, the Vikings passed on the chance to give their franchise quarterback a blue-chip receiver and they should have prioritized that over all else. They could end up regretting that decision. Then again, they could have just drafted the next shutdown corner.

    Which is more important long term? Offense or Defense? And can’t Teddy be great without Devante Parker? (i think so…) Can’t the Vikings find (or have they already found…) him targets in Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace not to mention Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright. If Patterson’s mentality has truly changed he could be that young, emerging player Parker would’ve been for Bridgewater and one that is so immensely more talented. He pans out and he’s the perfect centerpiece offensive weapon for this team. In the meantime, Charles Johnson who showed he can be reliable with his breakout year last year for Teddy can continue to be the go to guy.

    The one thing to remember here is, and on this I think everybody can agree, that Mike Zimmer is more than capable of getting the most out of his defensive players. He was brought in to fix the defense, and the whole team overall, but mostly for the defense so have some faith and hold your concerns on Waynes for a bit.

    Let Zimmer and Co. do what they do best. Remember, Xavier Rhodes wasn’t the player he is today when the Vikings first selected him. He showed some promise but really took a step forward once Zimmer got a chance to work with him. And lots of fans had questions about Anthony Barr after the Vikings picked him ninth overall last year. He was described as a “project” or a player that Zimmer and company would have to groom and mold into a good football player in the NFL. Barr was a “Zimmer pick” too and I think they coached him up pretty well, didn’t they? Why can’t they do the same for Waynes and fix his flaws?

    This pick not only makes sense it was the correct choice as part of a continuing effort to dominate the defensive side of the football which is where the Vikings needed the most work when Zimmer was hired a year ago ( and whether you believe so or not the defense is the side side that still does need the most work.) Eventually, they hope to have a defense where cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes can be largely left to handle receivers in man coverage, allowing Zimmer to dial up more aggressive blitz packages and sapping precious tenths of seconds from quarterbacks to diagnose pass rushes and find receivers.

    I’m confident with a solid corner opposite Rhodes playing good they can compete against the Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Staffords of the NFL. Continuing the build this defense can only help Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings. If the Vikings defense vaults into a top-10 unit after ranking 14th overall last season then the young offense won’t have to do so much or always be relied upon to win games.

    I applaud Speilman for the pick. It’s clear to me that Spielman as the GM and final decision maker is not only listening to his coach but is working with him. That’s how a smart GM does his job so long as he respects and trusts the coach to know what he’s talking about and clearly Spielman does with Zimmer. He’s working with his coach and getting talent but not only just-‘talent’ but talent they can agree on is a fit for this team and what Zimmer is trying to do. Where they could clash or butt heads and try to fit round pegs into square holes they instead are rebuilding the roster to fit the type of defense Zimmer wants and in only two drafts the team actually looks very different and has played a lot better thus far.

    Not only is Mike Zimmer consulted on picks but he’s an extensive part of the process as he sits down with players and talks to them and even coaches them up a bit pre-draft. And Zimmer and his staff took a very long and careful look at Waynes leading up to the draft. They spent quite a bit of time with him and they obviously felt his flaws weren’t going to deter him from being a good player. As NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said of Waynes on the broadcast after the choice, “If you play defense for Michigan State, you’re well-coached.”

    What’s not to like about Trae Waynes? General criticisms like “Waynes needs work on his tackling” or “his weight (he’s too small)” are not very good reasons to pass on a corner. First of all, every rookie needs to work on something coming into the NFL. There are no finished products in college football. Second of all, what do you want from a cornerback mostly? The ability to tackle or the ability to cover a receiver? Break up passes or creature turnovers with interceptions?

    While fans love interceptions – who doesn’t? – Zimmer says he’s more concerned with how many passes a corner prevents from being caught. Zimmer said he’s not concerned about his weight or how well he can tackle. He’s simply concerned with whether or not the guy can cover. And to me, that’s the bottom line with a cornerback. Not if he can tackle a runningback in open field every time or even whether he has the speed to stay with and run with the fastest receivers (which he does btw).

    At the end of the day they need to be able to cover and make a play on the ball in the air most of all. Either swat it away or break up a pass by getting a hand in there at the right moment to prevent the catch. And I think this is something Waynes excels at. He also has the size Zimmer covets in corners and feels that his corners need so they are not outmatched from the beginning (ala Josh Robinson vs Chicago the past few seasons.)

    So he may be a liability as a run defender as a rookie somewhat. But if he’s a shutdown corner in pass coverage more times than he misses a tackle it won’t be even mentioned or brought up. He can get bye with sub par tackling if he covers so well they stop throwing to his side of the field because they cannot complete passes against him. Nobody cares how well Richard Sherman, Revis, or Patrick Peterson tackle. They only talk about them as being shutdown NFL defenders because as corners their position is to stop the pass!

    So in closing, you don’t have to be a huge fan of the selection. You don’t even have to like it… But you shouldn’t be overly critical because you fell in love with the story of Bridgewater and Parker reuniting in the NFL. Give me valid reasons for concerns in one years time and I’ll come around but until then I hope for Patterson to re-emerge as a budding star at receiver and I hope Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson and Kyle Rudolph all continue to take steps and give Bridgewater more targets than he can shake a stick at… err..uhh probably shouldn’t use that line considering Peterson and all.