The Vikings have Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith in their estimable secondary, but head coach Mike Zimmer, one of the best defensive minds in NFL history, clearly knew that Rhodes needed a bookend on the other side. Trae Waynes is perhaps the most aggressive cornerback in this draft class—he's a natural in press coverage, and he's probably going to draw more than his share of penalties until he learns to be a little less grabby at the line of scrimmage. Waynes will struggle in transitions at times, and he can be beaten on slants and crossing routes, but he'll learn how to fix that under Zimmer.
Minnesota resides in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler, so shoring up that secondary was a must.
Strengths:Thrived in a college scheme that placed him on an island against the pass but also asked him to provide support against the run. Took on more responsibility with the latter this past season without sacrificing his coverage. Really gets up into receivers' faces, frustrating them with his physical style. Showed on tape—and again with a 4.31 40 at the combine—that he has the ability to run with receivers downfield. Finds the football and wants to make a play on it. Positioning is often stellar, especially when he can force a receiver toward the boundary. Steady tackler for his position. Shows little to no hesitation diagnosing run plays, then storms downhill.—CB
Weaknesses:His former Michigan State teammate, Dennard, spoke prior to his rookie season about the difficulties he would face adjusting to the NFL's strict illegal-contact and pass-interference penalties. Waynes has the same steep learning curve ahead of him, as he pushed the legal limits with his hand usage in coverage. Muscular receivers may be able to blow through his press coverage unless he can bulk up a bit. Occasional lapses in technique if he doesn't manage to jam his receiver at the line.—CB
Player Comparison: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie