NFL Draft 2015: Is Trae Waynes Overrated Garbage?


Considering all the mock drafts sending Trae Waynes to the Vikings with the #11 overall, you could forgive fans if they’d come to believe the pick was by now a foregone conclusion.

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But if the Anthony Barr pick taught us anything it’s that we shouldn’t count our draft chickens before they hatch. Not when it’s the wily Rick Spielman running the draft room.

Perception in this case is not necessarily reality, folks. Mock drafters do not have a direct line to the brains of Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer (most of them do not even have a direct line to their own brains). In fact, nobody knows what the Vikings are going to do at 11.

And frankly the fact that we’ve heard so much talk about Waynes at that pick sort of leads one to believe that some chicanery is being perpetrated behind the scenes.

Enough insiders have now reported on the Vikings’ interest in Waynes – one even said the Vikings “love” Waynes – that you have to be suspicious.

Yes, sometimes smoke does mean there’s a fire. But sometimes smoke is just smoke.

Since it’s impossible for us to truly know what’s going on behind the curtain at Winter Park, all we can do is gather up as much informed opinion as possible about the true value of Trae Waynes and make a determination based on that.

There seem to be two general schools of thought on Waynes. One says he’s a great prospect because he’s really big and fast. The other says he’s not a great prospect in spite of being really big and fast.

The detractors all seem to focus in on one area when arguing that Waynes should not be rated as highly as he is by some people: his lack of small-area quickness.

Basically, Waynes is great covering deep routes because he can run fast. But you can get him on intermediate routes that challenge his ability to shift and cut and stay with quick, nifty receivers.

PFF put up some numbers that seem to bear out the argument that Waynes is really a liability in short-to-intermediate coverage:

"While his 40-yard dash time of 4.31 was impressive at the combine, his 20-yard shuttle time was slower at 4.39. That’s concerning, and his struggles to change direction at pace are evident on film.He has the recovery speed to avoid being beaten deep, but how much he struggles to change direction is a big reason why he didn’t do so well on intermediate routes, and why he allowed 14.9 yards per reception in 2014."

It doesn’t end there according to the experts. Waynes has also been taken to task for concentration lapses and for his lack of run support ability. One scouting report likened Waynes to Asante Samuel in the tackling department, which is not a compliment. Numerous experts have noted Waynes’ tendency to grab onto receivers, a habit that will get him flagged if he keeps it up in the NFL.

Most of these complaints come down to technical things that presumably can be improved by a good defensive coaching staff (which the Vikings have). As we know, no prospect is perfect coming into the league. They all need some work.

So maybe Trae Waynes needs more work than most? You still can’t overlook the fact that he’s the fastest corner among the top prospects. As cliche-loving analysts never tire of telling us, you can’t teach speed.

You also can’t teach length, and Waynes has length. The speed and length would seem to make him an ideal fit for the press-coverage approach Mike Zimmer favors.

At least that’s what everyone keeps saying. The arguments keep lining up perfectly. Trae Waynes is supposedly an ideal fit for the Vikings at 11.

In all honesty though, we don’t know if Waynes is an ideal fit for the Vikings at 11. It all depends on how Mike Zimmer and his staff feel about those technical issues.

And even if the Vikings “love” Waynes, there’s still the question of draft value. Does it make sense to spend the 11 overall on Waynes when he arguably isn’t that much better than the other cornerbacks in the draft?

There’s a whole bunch of cornerbacks of seemingly equal ability all tending to fall in that late-1st/early-2nd area. Trae Waynes isn’t necessarily that much better than any of them, except for the fact that he possesses the most “ideal” speed-size combo.

To hear a lot of scouts tell it, Marcus Peters is probably the best all-around corner in the draft, but many are scared of Peters because he got thrown out of school.

Some scouts will tell you Jalen Collins has more upside than Waynes, but is unlikely to be ready immediately. Incidentally, Collins is also viewed by many as a perfect Zimmer cornerback.

Byron Jones and Eric Rowe are two more corners with physical ability to burn. Kevin Johnson is another player mock drafters have fallen for, though he lacks the speed of a Waynes.

Point being, there are a lot of interesting corner prospects. Should the Vikings feel pressure to take a corner at 11 when they will certainly be able to get a pretty good one in the second?

Fact is, the Vikings have needs to address all over their defense. Corner may be the biggest need but is it that much bigger than left defensive end, Mike linebacker and free safety?

Rick Spielman has publicly stated his desire to trade down from #11 and accumulate picks. Not exactly an earth-shattering statement given Spielman’s well-known draft tendencies.

If I had to guess, I’d say the Vikings’ true desire is to get at least three picks in the first two rounds and use at least two of them on defense. One of those two picks will surely be a defensive back and the other will almost certainly be a front-seven player.

I’m not necessarily certain we can zero in on which position the Vikings will address first. It all comes down to value.

The Vikings might not even go defense with the first of their picks. Wide receiver is a position they could still target, despite arguably being set at #1 and #2 (if you buy the notion that Charles Johnson is ready to become a #1).

Like I said, we don’t have any idea what the Vikings will do. The Vikings are not even sure yet because they don’t know who might drop out of the the top 10 and into their laps.

Point being, don’t let the mock drafts hypnotize you into expecting Trae Waynes’ name to be called at #11. There is plenty of reason to believe he is not remotely worthy of that pick.

There are a lot of people out there calling Waynes overrated. Too many to just ignore.

Next: Vikings Worked Out NDSU RB John Crockett

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