I’m happy to announce the first edition of the purpleMAILBAG! Through Facebook (Mostly), we asked our readers/followers to ask us a question. Each week we will post the the article/FB/Twitter/Message Board post asking people to posit a question that we will then answer on Friday.
This week, Casey Bowman was the one to ask the question that we selected! His question was:
“With the departure of Captain Munnerlyn, do you think Trae Waynes will shoulder the role of nickel? Or do you think he’ll stay put and Mackensie Alexander will give it a go? Or mystery meat?”
Great question, Casey! As it brings up one of the glaring weaknesses on the Vikings defense! Not sure why I’m using exclamation points, most likely because of the anxiety that this question suddenly dumped in my lap!
Now, a quick history of my site is probably necessary before I get into the question itself. Back in mid-April of 2015, I was engaged in a life or death argument with someone on Reddit regarding Trae Waynes. The media had found out that the Vikings were most likely going to draft a corner with the 11th overall pick and it was known that Waynes was the top choice by Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and head coach/corner back guru Mike Zimmer. Around that time, periodic purplePTSD writer Arif Hasan had written an article about Waynes’ combine performance, namely his time in the shuttle drill.
Because of his god awful time (Even I’ll admit that) it was concluded, either by Hasan or the people reading his article, that while Waynes was blazingly fast when running straight, somehow he turned into the majority of the people at the State Fair when running side to side. Despite the fact that I found that Waynes had pulled his groin while running his 40 yard dash (and things like the fact that he only allowed two touchdowns in college) before the shuttle drill, people had become convinced that Waynes was going to be terrible. Because of that argument and all of the people who hated the idea of picking Waynes (and be by proxy) and then my response to the Vikings selecting him (I wrote a post on Reddit juxtaposing those people bashing Waynes (and me) before the draft and then celebrating the fact that the Vikings took him afterwards), I was essentially run out of Reddit. So, because of that I decided to start my own website as a refuge, for namely myself and my ideas. So, yes. I really like Trae Waynes and my credibility as a writer is tied to his success (or lack thereof). So that will really weigh heavily in my response.
The long and short is… No. I don’t think that Trae Waynes should be moved or play the nickel. While another tall(er) corner like Richard Sherman has been used in the nickel from time to time, I don’t think that Waynes is a good fit for the slot position, partially because he’s a larger corner. For one, he’s still not accustomed to playing the position he’s been drafted for (At least as of the end of the 2016 season), yet, anyway. I do believe that he’s a good corner right now and still has the potential to be a great player. But, he’s still new and learning (arguably the hardest position on the field) and moving him to a different position in that position group could have disastrous consequences (Just ask TJ Clemmings). Again, I do think that he’ll end up being one of the better corners in the league, but he’s not there yet. He has all the skills necessary and he’s a very intelligent person, and I think that that intelligence actually may be hindering him a bit.
You can see Waynes get upset when he has perfect coverage on a receiver but that receiver comes down with the ball anyway. It shows me that he’s really thinking too much, too much about why that happened (The NFL is a passing league. Because of the rule changes to the defense, there are going to be instances where a receiver still comes down with the ball despite perfect coverage, you can thank the owner of the Indianapolis Colts for that) and what coach Zimmer is going to say about it. You can see him shrug his shoulders and look at Zimmer the same way I used to hit my stick on the ground and look at my Mom during hockey games in High School (Minneapolis South Represent!). Hopefully Zimmer doesn’t ground Waynes after “bad” games… I still think that goal wasn’t my fault!
Because of that, there’s been various instances where Waynes has played far too off of the line of scrimmage because he doesn’t want to get beat. Alexander McKenzie is actually the polar opposite of that type of player. He is hyper aggressive so there are times where he gets beat or draws penalties. That’s the type of guy that you want/need in the nickel. Outside of that, again, Waynes needs to focus on improving his play on the outside and the only way to do that is to continue to play (Either in front of, or behind the recently resigned Terrance Newman) on the outside.
So. Yeah. No. I think that Waynes is fine where he is at and I think while 2017 will be a “Make or Break” sort of year for him, and because of that he will really silence his doubters and show that he was definitely worth the 11th pick overall in the draft. Either that or you’ll never hear from me again, as I’ll move into the woods, off the grid, and eat pine cones for a living.
What do you guys think? Let us know in our Message Board!