The Minnesota Vikings selected cornerback Trae Waynes with the No. 11 overall pick in this year’s draft, creating natural pressure on that high of a selection to play well early.
So far in the preseason Waynes has shown off his physical play and his speed, but he has also shown that he has a tendency to draw penalties and that he can be over-anxious, which has led to him getting beat downfield.
He is still a young player and is working on learning the techniques the coaching staff is teaching. In college, a lot of cornerbacks are just told by their coaches to go cover one specific player all game, and then the good cornerbacks, such as Waynes, will rarely get targeted.
Once they enter into the NFL, they are asked to do so much more than just cover one single receiver throughout the game and the receivers are a lot more talented than a lot of the ones they faced in college, forcing the cornerbacks to have to rely on more than just their natural abilities when facing them.
It appears Waynes is learning that and Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards has been happy with his development this offseason.
“I think he’s gotten better from week to week,” Edwards said of Waynes. “I think the first week to the second week he got better at some things we asked him to get better at. And the next week, the third game, we thought he got better, and hopefully this game we’ll see some things we worked on this week in practice.”
The best thing for the young corner, according to Edwards, is to be in the games and work through the challenges. If things are going bad, Waynes needs to learn to fight through it and find a way to turn things around.
The preseason is the perfect time to do that because the players are going against quality opponents and the games don’t count toward the preseason.
“There’s no substitute for experience,” Edwards said. “They’re getting out there and having to do it under the lights and against good competition week in and week out. There’s no substitute for that. Doing it out here in practice is one thing, but transferring it to the game is another. So from that aspect of it we just look for him to make the most of the opportunities we get him.”
The big question moving forward is when will Vikings fans be able to see Waynes take the field in the regular season? Will he be ready to start or come in as the outside cornerback in nickel situations by Week 1 or will the Vikings have him sit out and continue to develop?
Edwards is hoping he is ready as soon as possible, but with the way veteran cornerback Terence Newman has played and practiced a majority of the preseason and offseason there does not seem to be a rush to get Waynes in.
“That’s what we’re aiming for, that’s what we’re all working for,” Edwards said when asked if Waynes will be ready to start Week 1. “But we’re just going to take it from week to week. We’ve still got two games to go and just keep evaluating it through the process.”
THURSDAY PRACTICE NOTES
Later in the practice, Diggs was lined up against Xavier Rhodes and was able to beat him deep and connect with Kafka for a touchdown.