4 most underappreciated players in Minnesota Vikings history

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Kai Forbath
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Kai Forbath /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) Trae Waynes /

Trae Waynes – Cornerback

The Vikings drafted Trae Waynes in the first round back in 2015 to help Xavier Rhodes in the secondary. While Waynes never really played to the level of a top-15 pick – and there were other cornerbacks from his class that have had great careers – Waynes has been a bit overlooked.

Waynes has apparently made a decision to retire, though unofficially for now, from the NFL after seven seasons with the Vikings and Bengals. That career was plagued by injuries and what-ifs but Trae Waynes played some good football toward the end of his tenure in Minnesota.

In 2018, Waynes allowed just 7.6 yards per target as the primary defender with just one touchdown allowed as well. He found success after some early struggles and a slow start to his career but eventually helped the defense in a major way.

Waynes was never really a lockdown defender on the perimeter but that’s not what the Vikings expected or needed from him out of the gate. He was a very good complimentary player to Xavier Rhodes.

Injuries were a theme with Waynes and tackling caused a log of his issues but when he was healthy, he was a pretty reliable cornerback. He was never a superstar or anything crazy but the perception of Waynes would suggest that he was unplayable, which just is not fair.

After injuries essentially cut his career short, we can take a step back and appreciate what he did for Minnesota’s defense when Mike Zimmer had them rolling. There’s a reason the Bengals offered such a massive payday for Waynes when he hit the open market in 2020.

The Vikings have been searching for improvements in the secondary ever since Waynes left. His level of play at the end of his career in Minnesota would have been a welcome addition to the roster in 2020 and 2021.