Promising Defender Dazzles at Vikings Training Camp

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On April 28th, 2022, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made a huge bet when he traded away the 12th overall pick to the Detroit Lions and ended up selecting Lewis Cine with the final selection of the first round.

Promising Defender Dazzles at Vikings Training Camp

He set himself up for criticism. Folks who do controversial things get more blame if it doesn’t work out. Fast forward one year, Cine has barely contributed in his rookie season, but not all is lost.

Promising Defender Dazzles
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Entering the draft, Kyle Hamilton, a 6’4″ safety out of Notre Dame, was viewed as a great safety prospect and an elite player in the draft regardless of the position value. Adofo-Mensah passed on him and still drafted a safety. Cine came out of Georgia as a national champion, and his draft position was not a surprise by any means, as he was one of the team’s top defenders. His explosiveness is absolutely stunning to watch on tape, and his 40-yard dash of 4.37 seconds is unusually fast for a player at his position.

Cine’s talent, combined with the bet Adofo-Mensah made with his first pick in charge of the Vikings and the vacant safety position next to Harrison Smith, had the expectations for him skyrocketing. Unfortunately, Cine hasn’t had any luck in his young career. At first, he lost the competition for the starting job to Camryn Bynum. Then he wasn’t even the top backup for Smith when he missed Week 3, and ultimately, his season ended in London with a compound leg fracture in Week 4, missing valuable reps in practice and on the field.

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Sustaining a bad injury like that even put his status for the 2023 season, maybe even his future playing career, in jeopardy, but he had a wonderful recovery and is full-go in training camp after already participating in the offseason workouts with the team. He opens training camp at the same spot where he ended it last season, with the second team. In looks with three safeties, it is Josh Metellus joining Smith and Bynum on the field.

Cine now has six weeks to usurp his competitors to be featured in the starting lineup instead of having to sit on the bench when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit U.S. Bank Stadium on September 10th. The two things he must show in team practices are consistency and some flashy highlight plays. He produced one of the latter in Saturday’s practice, the first one with fans in attendance.

The safety jumped Jalen Reagor’s route, making backup quarterback Nick Mullens pay by picking him off. But not only the result of the play should be beneficial for his camp resume but also the process. He diagnosed the play and showed his elite explosiveness to get in position to make a play on the ball, which was his calling card in college.

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His teammates went crazy after the play, showing great camaraderie as they were all happy for him, even his competitors. In addition, Cine also had a fantastic pass breakup, jumping the route in the middle of the field.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the aforementioned consistency if Cine will break out or needs more time to develop. However, he possesses the speed and the aggressive mindset the defense lacked in 2022, and it is far too early to give up on the talented defender. If he continues to show his skills as he did on Saturday, he might have a chance to push starter Bynum.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt