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Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer Discuss Trae Waynes Pick

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The Minnesota Vikings GM and Head Coach discuss their thought process behind choosing Michigan State CB Trae Waynes with the 11th pick in the draft.

Your newest Minnesota Viking, Trae Waynes.
Your newest Minnesota Viking, Trae Waynes.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

For once, most of the mock drafts were actually right. Wheelin' and Dealin' Ricky Spielman stayed put and didn't make a trade. He didn't even trade back late into the first round. In the end the Minnesota Vikings took just one player, and it was the player that many thought they would choose: Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes.

Perhaps Spielman didn't trade simply because nobody else was trading. But the Vikings GM claimed that the choosing Waynes was a better value than any of the trade offers he was getting.

As you sat there and watched the draft unfold, there wasn't a lot of movement. We did have a lot of activity that came up to us but as you sit there and went through it, Trae Waynes was a guy we had very high on our draft board. As much as you'd like to do some movement and things like that, there's a player there that you covet...the chance of losing that player, it's not always worth it to make a trade just to make a trade.

Spielman spent a lot of time with Waynes in the offseason and thought his athleticism and strengths fit the Vikings' scheme very well. He claimed that Waynes was in Coach Zimmer's "wheelhouse" and gives the secondary a lot of depth. With veterans like Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Captain Munnerlyn, and Terrence Newman in the secondary, Waynes won't be rushed into starting. "The coaches will determine when he's ready," Spielman explained.

Waynes' athleticism was a big selling point for the Vikings but his character and work ethic also played a big part in separating him from other cornerbacks in the draft. Spielman praised the Michigan State program in producing NFL-ready talent. "The overall package with Trae Waynes was everything we were looking for."

Of course Spielman realizes that Waynes isn't perfect, but he's confident in the ability of Zimmer and his staff to correct some of Waynes' weaknesses:

There's no question about the athletic skill set, there's no question about the ability to play press man. We haven't seen him a lot in the off coverage because they play so much man coverage so some of that may be a little new to him. But I love going to those workouts with Coach Zim because he coaches the heck out of those guys and he sees how they respond. So there's some technical things that he'll have to work on. Just little tweaks here and there with his feet and his shoulders coming out of breaks. All the physical attributes are there; it's just cleaning that part up.

Spielman compared how far Rhodes came along since being drafted to what he thinks Waynes will be capable of. As Chris covered earlier, it doesn't sound like the Vikings will trade back into the first round. And it definitely doesn't sound like Adrian Peterson is going anywhere.

After the GM's press conference ended, the Head Coach took the podium to discuss his new toy. Mike Zimmer seemed very exciting to bring another piece into his defense.

I think part of the draft is always about picking the best players for your football team. Part of it's luck that the guys that you like are still there. It was a little bit of both tonight.

Zimmer praised Spielman and his entire scouting staff, who obviously did their homework on Waynes. Zimmer has shown an affinity for corners throughout his career but stressed that Waynes' athleticism and talent stood out more than any preference for a position. "Some people say I love corners, and yeah I do, but I love good football players more than I love corners."

When asked whether he thinks Waynes will compete for a starting position right away, Zimmer responded "I expect everybody to compete for a starting job." Coach Zimmer also acknowledged that Waynes had some things to work on at the pro level but likes how Michigan State prepared him for the NFL:

He can get a bit grabby up the field which we'll have to correct. He does a good job in press but there are some things I see on tape that I want to address with him. But he's got the great size and length and he's done a good job, and Michigan State has always done a good job with getting these guys ready.

While Waynes has some things to work on, Zimmer was excited about his size and athleticism. "To get big corners that can run and have good change of direction--they're hard to find." Zimmer also acknowledged that getting big, quality cornerbacks is important in the wide receiver-rich NFC North.

It's nice to be able to have height against height. You can probably write it down we're not going to take any 5'9" corners here. Rick and I have talked about that many times. I like big guys.

Finally, Zimmer complimented Waynes' intelligence in potentially allowing him to make the secondary more worry-free:

Depending on how fast the guy matures and how fast he gets into the NFL game and all that stuff...when you don't really have to worry too much about the corners, you don't have to worry about shifting coverage, you can do numerous things that allow you to attack offenses. When you have to help a guy or protect a guy and use more of your guys than you really would like to, it makes it more difficult.

And that's a shockingly run-of-the-mill, somewhat predictable to the first day of the draft for a team that has been historically unpredictable under the guidance of Rick Spielman. Stay tuned for lots more as the next six rounds unfold over the next two days in Chicago.