Hey Spartan fans and The Only Colors readers. Before we get started I would like to introduce myself, My name is Mark Laming and I am a lifelong Spartan fan. Even though I grew up in the heart of the south in North Carolina, I was raised by two parents who grew up in Michigan and spent time in Lansing so I inherited the team. I am happy to be here and I hope to contribute some quality material and great articles for The Only Colors.
As Trae Waynes rode into Chicago on April 30th he knew his name would be called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He knew it was a matter of hours before his career as a Spartan would be a distant memory and the intense focus on his NFL career begins. Waynes was a catalyst of Michigan State's famed "No Fly Zone" secondary that featured current Cincinnati Bengal Darqueze Dennard. The Minnesota Vikings selected Trae Waynes with the 11th pick in the NFL Draft, much to the despair of many Michiganders who have to watch a former Spartan suit up for the rival Vikings. So as the dust settles down, the ticket punched, the contract signed, the flight booked it's time to examine the potential impact of Trae in the NFL.
Trae Wayne's best characteristic is by far his speed and length. Very rarely do you find one who posses both crucial characteristics at the elite level Trae does. With his reckless and aggressive style, Waynes has only allowed two touchdown passes over the last season. That's right, only twice did a receiver score a touchdown on Waynes last season. Those are shutdown-corner type numbers that few elite prospect can boast. His speed was evident during the combine running a blistering 4.31 second 40 yard dash.
While he excels in pass coverage, just like ever Spartan Corner, Waynes is also a good run stopper. While he isn't elite in this department he excels more than most other corners. He also posses an innate ability to tackle in space using a lethal speed burst to track down his target like a hunter stalking his prey. Waynes was more of a boundary corner last season succeeding in the role. The only real question when it comes to Wayne's NFL-readiness is the steep learning curve in the transition from college to the pros. Trae is an extremely physical corner and likes to use his hands to cover receivers. While being physical presents many advantages, in the NFL the referees are more strict about contact and use of hands in coverage and have made it a point-of-emphasis for referees to look for physical play with the hands.
It is widely expected between his NFL skill set, the Vikings current depth at cornerback, and his NFL ready package, Trae will be starting out of the gate in Minnesota. He is already turning heads in rookie mini-camp and has caught the attention of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
"For a young guy and trying to teach the technique we're doing, he caught on probably faster than I've ever had a guy on the first day,"-Mike Zimmer
Being called a fast-learner in the NFL is high-praise. Many prospects are projects that need development but Waynes appears to be getting an aptitude for the NFL game. The jump from college to pros is a big one, a Waynes appears to be learning on the job, and learning fast.
With the Vikings, Waynes is expected to team with breakout corner Xavier Rhodes in the Vikings secondary next season giving Minnesota a strong young secondary to build on. No matter what happens this story is only beginning and hopefully, it won't be ending any time soon.