The Minnesota Vikings selected Georgia safety Lewis Cine with the final pick of the first round after trading down from the No. 12 spot — a move that was met with scrutiny due to the players still available before the trade.
That included the consensus top safety Kyle Hamilton, who the Baltimore Ravens selected at No. 14 overall.
However, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was ecstatic about the value of selecting Cine with the 32nd pick received in a trade with the Detroit Lions. The Vikings got the second-best safety in the draft (whom Adofo-Mensah said they were eyeing in the teens of the draft), along with moving up 12 spots in the second round and a third-round pick.
How Cine (pronounced seen) compares to Hamilton this upcoming season will be closely followed by critics of the new regime’s trade.
However, NBC Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms gushed over Minnesota’s selection of Cine.
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‘The Man is a Sledgehammer… Vikings Got One of My Man Crushes’
Simms tweeted shortly after Minnesota capped the first day of the draft with resounding praise of Cine.
“Lewis Cine. The man is a sledgehammer. He. Hits. Everybody. And yet has unbelievable ability to plant his foot in the ground and drive in coverage,” Simms said. “@Vikings got one of my man crushes.”
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On the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast, Simms ranked Cine as the second-best safety in his draft class behind Hamilton.
“This is another one of my favorite watches in the draft — any position — I’m just a sucker for guys who can fly and have no regard for their body,” Simms said. “He’s got three rockets up his a**, and he runs through brick walls? Sign me up.”
Cine Elite in Stopping the Run
Cine was the lead tackler for Georgia’s defense that smothered Alabama in the College Football National Championship, helping the Bulldogs claim their first national championship since 1980 in a 33-18 win last February. Named Georgia’s Defensive Most Valuable Player in the national championship, Cine was the sixth member of the Georgia defense selected in the first round.
He recorded 73 total tackles (43 solo) with two tackles for loss, one interception and nine passes defended as a junior last season, posting the best Pro Football Focus (PFF) defensive grade (87.3) of any SEC safety.
At 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, Cine is a sure-tackler, missing only 6.9% of tackles over the entirety of his college career, and can hold his own in coverage. His 40-time of 4.37 seconds ranked in the 97th percentile in his position, along with his height in the 94th percentile, per PFF.
Cine also posted the third-highest PFF wins above replacement (WAR) grade of any player in the draft.
While there is skepticism surrounding why the Vikings passed on Hamilton and instead opted with Cine, it depends on whether Hamilton was worth the No. 12 overall pick versus picking up more draft capital for Cine, whom Adofo-Mensah claims to have held in just as high of regard with Hamilton.
One Georgia fan vouched for Cine, who, despite being the sixth member of the Bulldogs defense selected, has untapped potential.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler told Vikings.com that Cine’s “a guy you feel like is an ascending player. You love his football IQ and he plays fast, but you wish he made more plays on the ball in creating interceptions. But he’ll come downhill and hit you, he’s that type of enforcing safety. He could sneak into the first round.