Mike Zimmer Clearly Thinks He Can Fix Trae Waynes’ Flaws


The reports we heard about the Vikings loving Trae Waynes were obviously true. Love positively gushed from the mouths of Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer last night as they spoke about their decision to draft the former Michigan State CB at 11 overall.

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Spielman and Zimmer answered several of our questions about Waynes and why the Vikings didn’t try to move back from 11 and still draft him. They indicated that Waynes was by far the highest rated player left on their board at 11 and they didn’t want to risk losing him by sliding back.

Spielman said the Vikings did get phone calls about the pick but none of the offers were enough to make him move back and risk losing Waynes. Zimmer said he was nervous that a team behind the Vikings would try to move up ahead of them and steal Waynes.

You expect coaches and GMs to make gushingly positive statements about a player they just drafted, but last night was different. You could tell the enthusiasm for Waynes is real, especially from Zimmer.

Mike Zimmer did however temper his obvious giddiness over Waynes’ physical talent with a reminder that the young man has some work to do. When asked about some of Waynes’ flaws, including a tendency to grab onto receivers, Zimmer said:

"I think all college corners when they come to the NFL, the rules are so much different, where you can put your hands on receivers, Trey has a little bit of grabby up the field which we’ll have to correct. He does a good job in press but there’s some things I see on tape that I want to address with him."

Waynes’ off-coverage technique has been criticized by scouts and experts, as has his small-area quickness. There are also concerns about Waynes’ tackling ability.

Clearly none of these concerns are very daunting to Mike Zimmer, a guy with a great track record when it comes to working with corners. Zimmer obviously would not have signed off on the draft pick if he didn’t think he could mold Waynes into a solid NFL corner.

Those who’ve expressed concern about picking Waynes so high have done so not because they doubt Waynes’ physical ability, but because they know he has a lot of work to do on his game, and they question whether it made sense to use the #11 overall on a player with so many flaws just because he’s a little faster and a little bigger than some of the other corners in the draft.

Clearly, Zimmer and Spielman felt Waynes’ slightly superior overall physical profile was enough to vault him clearly ahead of Bryon Jones (another athletic freak), Marcus Peters (an arguably more talented all-around corner), Jalen Collins (a guy with arguably more upside than Waynes) and others who graded out well among draft experts.

Nobody here doubts Zimmer’s ability to work hard with Waynes, a young man who by all accounts will be a willing and able student, and get him where he needs to be. Any angst about Waynes can easily be quieted through repetition of the mantra “In Zimmer We Trust.”

Next: Is Trae Waynes Overrated Garbage?

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