Trae Waynes has the athletic ability and speed to bring another dimension to the Vikings’ secondary.
The time is now for Trae Waynes.
With Xavier Rhodes nursing an injury, a window has opened for Waynes to see more practice time with the first team. Perhaps he will even get the start this Sunday against San Diego.
Waynes is well-aware of the opportunity he is being given (via St. Paul Pioneer-Press):
"“I just want to keep getting better and better, and preseason’s the time to do it,” Waynes said. “The season’s right around the corner. I’m trying to make the most of the reps I get and (use) the experience and get some time under my belt.”"
Waynes’ development is being closely watched by fans and with good reason. The cornerback was a first-round pick in 2015 and everyone is eager to see him live up to his promise.
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And if Waynes does live up to that promise, the Vikings’ secondary will have a chance to be not just good but truly elite.
The Vikes have one of the better secondaries in football as things stand now, but they are a notch or two below the top units in the league.
How do the Vikings take that next step? They need to find a safety who can play deep coverage and free up Harrison Smith. They also need another speedy corner who can run downfield with fast receivers while holding his own in press coverage.
In other words, they need a player with the versatility to match up against any flavor of receiver.
Terence Newman is a solid veteran but he can no longer run with the kids. Trae Waynes does have the speed to keep up with almost any wide-out.
The issues for Waynes have been learning to avoid penalties and getting better at off-coverage.
Ideally, you would love to have a pair of outside corners who can line up and guard their man one-on-one whether that man is a big physical receiver or a speedster.
In Waynes and Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings may have such a pair. The latter being on the shelf has opened up a chance for the former to hone his skills and move closer to becoming the player the Vikings envisioned when they drafted him #11 overall.