Introducing the Haitian Hitman
When the new Vikings’ GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made the first selection of his young career, most people were surprised. He drafted a safety after trading back with the Lions all the way to the end of the first round instead of drafting Notre Dame star Kyle Hamilton.
But Lewis Cine is not just “a safety.” He is a national champion with big contributions in the championship game against Alabama. He was named Defensive MVP of that game after recording seven tackles, one tackle for loss, and a pass breakup. Over his three-year career as a Bulldog, he played in 39 games while starting 31 of them.
In 2021, he appeared in 15 games and posted fabulous stats. Seventy-three tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions, and nine passes defended.
Coached by a Legend
The first-round pick was born in Haiti. When he was four, he moved with his family to Florida and later to Massachusetts. In high school, he won two state championships before he moved to Texas. Cine attended Trinity Christian School in his senior year and was coached by one of the greatest football players of all time, Deion Sanders. Sanders and Cine won the state championship in 2018.
The four-star recruit was ranked as the third-best safety in the country and therefore was highly coveted. The list of offers is endless. He attended Georgia over offers from other powerhouses like Alabama and Clemson.
In his freshman year, Cine was a part-time player but appeared in all of the games, and he started the final two and never lost the job again. His PFF grades show a solid player at a young age with improvement at the end of his college career.
- 2019: 73.7
- 2020: 72.0
- 2021: 82.4
Cine played most of his snape at Georgia as a deep safety. It has to be noted that the front seven of the Bulldogs was loaded, and they could afford to play him deep. His seven forced incompletions and 12 coverage stops both ranked in the top-10 in the nation per pff. The run-stopping numbers were low, but that’s because of where he was aligned.
At the combine, Cine opened eyes when he posted jaw-dropping numbers at multiple drills. His 40-yard dash of 4.37 and his 11’1″ broad jump are the numbers of a special athlete, while his 6’2″ height paired with 202 pounds and long arms are a prototypical build for a safety.
The biggest strength of his game is his athleticism. Other than that, another strength becomes obvious to anyone who watches Cine highlights. He is a hard hitter. His tackling and ball skills, combined with his athleticism, make him a versatile asset for Ed Donatell’s defense due to his ability to play in the box and deep. As a teammate of Harrison Smith, the latter is very important as Smith is one of the elite box safeties in the NFL.
He is better as a straight line runner than at changing directions. With these limitations, if he wants to become elite in coverage, he must play the game smart and recognize routes quicker.
His run support is a question mark because he wasn’t asked to do it much. Playing alongside one of the top safeties in that regard, Harrison Smith will help him. In addition to tutorship by a potential Hall of Famer, adding some pounds could help him at tackling bigger NFL players.
NBC’s Chris Simms had high praise for Adofo-Mensah’s first career selection:
Overall, the Vikings found a day one contributor to their football team. At the same time, they gained additional draft capital to find more on day two when many talented players are still available.
Pete Prisco of CBS graded every first-round pick. The Vikings received a B+.
“They need a safety next to Harrison Smith and he’s getting a little older. Cine is a good-looking player who will cover and hit you. He has the range you like in the back end. This is a good, solid pick.“Pete Prisco, CBS
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be in the spotlight early on his second draft day. His Vikings own the right to select the second player in the second round. Andrew Booth Jr. is a player to watch. Quarterback Malik Willis is another interesting player. Other GMs could call the Vikings and trade up for the talented passer, and the GM could make a splash by unexpectedly selecting the Liberty quarterback for his own team.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who has a fable for numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Arguing about the Vikings on Twitter is one of his favorite things to do. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt