Breakdown: Vikings Select Trae Waynes

Everything you need to know about the Minnesota Vikings’ first-round selection of CB Trae Waynes out of Michigan State from Scout's college and pro football experts.

Awaiting Image
Trae Waynes
Michigan State / 6'0 / 186 lbs
  • CB
  • [1] #11

Analysis

Waynes started 27 of 36 games at Michigan State, 13 at boundary corner and 14 at field corner. He recorded 101 tackles, six interceptions and 13 pass deflections. He’s this year’s top rated cornerback. Waynes has good size and surprised many running so well [4.31 forty] at the Combine. He can turn his hips and run with any wide receiver. He has good short area quickness and shows a super burst to the ball. He can play man, press, off, zone and is effective in run support. Former Spartan Darqueze Dennard was a first rounder last year (No. 24 to Cincinnati). Wayne should go much higher.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

The Vikings found a terrific cover corner to pair with Xavier Rhodes in the Minnesota secondary in Trae Waynes. Waynes started 27 of 36 games at Michigan State, 13 at boundary corner and 14 at field corner. He recorded 101 tackles, six interceptions and 13 pass deflections. He’s this year’s top rated cornerback. Waynes has good size and surprised many running so well [4.31 forty] at the Combine. He can turn his hips and run with any wide receiver. He has good short area quickness and shows a super burst to the ball. He can play man, press, off, zone and is effective in run support. Former Spartan Darqueze Dennard was a first rounder last year (No. 24 to Cincinnati).

Trae Waynes has been on the scouts’ radar ever since he began outperforming 2013 Thorpe Award winner Darqueze Dennard the second part of the 2013 season. Expected to be the first cornerback selected in the 2015 draft, Waynes’ departure from Michigan State was assured after his coaching mentor, Pat Narduzzi, left MSU to become the head coach at Pittsburgh.

Waynes shows no stiffness flipping his hips and looks fluid in his turns coming out of transition. You can see on film that he has the feet and balance to turn and stay on his man’s hip, but even with his excellent underneath range and ability to track plays down sideline to sideline, he will need to add bulk and strength. Even though he lacks short-area power at the point of attack, he is willing, active and stout in run support.

Waynes has superb recovery speed and burst. He explodes off the snap and can stay stride for stride with the receivers. He has the loose hips needed to quickly change direction and displays good explosion closing on the ball. He shows great acceleration when closing, but when he relies too much on his speed to help him recover he will get outside his frame with his hands, resulting in several pass interference calls.

The former Spartan can cover ground suddenly, tracking the ball in flight, and has no problems running or trailing receivers throughout the route. He is smooth in his stride, coming out of his pedal with no wasted motion. He has the speed to stay on the receiver’s hip. He has a high, loose backpedal but sometimes needs to stay in it longer. He shows no stiffness flipping his hips and looks fluid in his turns coming out of transition.

You can see on film that he has the feet and balance to turn and stay on his man’s hip. He is sudden in his movements when changing direction and looks natural and continuous flipping his hips and coming out of his breaks cleanly.

Waynes is best when playing off the line, as he takes good angles in pursuit. He shows good awareness looking up receivers and anticipating the quarterback to jump the play. He has good leaping ability, but needs to time his jumps better to get to the ball at its highest point. He has a keen comprehension of zone concepts, along with the range and suddenness in his movements to react instantly to the ball in flight.

Even though his six interceptions are an average figure, Waynes is a natural hands catcher who secures the ball well before running with it. He does a nice job of catching the ball away from the body’s frame. His sudden burst with the ball in his hands could see him handle some return duties at the next level. He is able to make the tough catch in traffic and will not hesitate to compete for the pigskin in a crowd.

What the junior needs to do is to use his hands better to keep blockers away from his chest when trying to slip blocks working in trash, though. He is an effective tackler when he keeps plays in front of him. He stays low in his pads and will not hesitate to lower his head and drive with force to rock ball carriers back on their heels. He is a good “thud” type who will generally win the battle when he tries to wrestle his opponent down.

Waynes knows how to make adjustments to break down and fit when playing in the open and shows good desire to make the play. He will go low, wrestle the ball carrier down or use his upper body strength to knock his opponent out of bounds. He is not intimidated taking on the bigger blockers and loves to hit with a thud when attacking in the open field.

The Spartan has the speed and rip move to slip off the blocker’s shoulder and displays the closing burst to pursue when he penetrates the backfield. His size lets him take on and play off isolated blocks well. He is effective at taking angles to make plays along the perimeter but does not work well vs. combo blocks, making him only adequate in filling the alleys.

When he hits the ball carrier, he will generally bring his opponent down with the initial tackle. What is evident on film is his upper body strength, using it well to take on blocks and shed when working along the perimeter (recently put up the 225-pound bench press 19 times).

When operating in the deep zone, Waynes reacts well to the ball in flight, showing superb leaping ability. When working on deep routes, he has the speed to recover when beaten. The thing you see constantly on film is his ability to identify his keys and react in an instant as the play develops (no need to digest).

Waynes can be very active and physical with his hands. He can generate a strong jolt to reroute receivers at the line and knows how to stay on the hip of the receivers through their routes. He is best when using his size to jam the opponent at the line. He can mirror in the short area and shows quick reactions when playing off the line. He has outstanding feet and balance when adjusting to the receiver’s moves and can flip his hips, redirect and plant sharply coming out of his breaks without needing to gather.

Trae Waynes Scouting Combine measurables


6-0/186 (4.31 forty)
31-inch arm length
8 1/4-inch hands
19-reps bench 38-inch vertical jump
10-foot-2 broad jump
7.08 3-cone drill (right calf strain)
4.39 20-yard shuttle
No 60-yard shuttle (cramps)


Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.



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