Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s decision to trade back from the 12th overall spot in the first round to the final pick at No. 32 will be looked back upon in either scrutiny or praise for years to come.
But how Georgia safety Lewis Cine, whom Minnesota selected 32nd overall, pans out will be one of the biggest factors in whether the trade can be called a win.
NFL scouts, coaches and executives have weighed in on Cine and the Vikings’ first-round move — which has been met with mixed reviews.
However, the consensus on Cine is sterling.
The latest Vikings news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Vikings newsletter here!
‘He Will Knock the Living S*** Out of You’
Leading up to the draft, NFL insider Bob McGinn released an article aggregating several anonymous scouts’ opinions on the 2022 defensive back class.
“Love him,” one scout told McGinn. “He’s a run-and-hit, mean kid. He will try to get into your soul. Plays with such great effort. He’s a ball-playing Jesse … He’s a different kid. I don’t know how well he’s going to fit in every locker room. He’s very high on himself. I think the kid’s smart enough to (accept coaching).”
Cine was the soul of Georgia’s defense in the Bulldogs’ national championship win over Alabama. He recorded seven of his team-leading 73 tackles in the title game and was named the team’s Defensive Most Valuable Player that game.
While Minnesota’s defense will have many different looks as a hybrid 3-4 scheme under defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, Cine will likely be used often in a box safety role and alongside Harrison Smith.
“They say he’s kind of quirky, and he is. In his interview, he’s a little bit of an odd personality. I wouldn’t necessarily be scared of that. His straight-line speed showed up in coverage. I thought he could play down,” another scout told McGinn. “He doesn’t have a ton of experience in the middle of the field but he can do it.”
One scout did knock Cine as not being great in man coverage, but the Vikings may employ more zone looks this season.
That shouldn’t stop Cine from excelling in his wheelhouse of meeting the rushers early with his explosive speed.
“He’s not a first,” said another scout. “Not a great man cover guy. But he will knock the living s*** out of you.”
And while the previous scout had his criticism of Cine, CBS Sports’ Daniel Jeremiah revealed on the Rich Eisen Show that a defensive-minded head coach in the league had Cine as his favorite player in the draft.
“I had a defensive-minded head coach who said he was his favorite player of the draft,” Jeremiah said. “(The coach) said, ‘the guy could come in and teach our defense already.’ (The Vikings) got a good football player.”
Andrew Booth Jr. Earns Mixed Reviews
The other piece of the Vikings’ trade back was selecting Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. at No. 42 overall.
Booth is widely praised for his physical tools and ability in zone coverage and was deemed a first-round talent. But after revealing he had played injured most of his college career, many scouts and draft evaluators became concerned about his health.
“Medically, you just have to be comfortable that he’s going to hold up for you,” a scout told McGinn. “He’s got size and speed and character and all that.”
Die-hard Vikings fan? Follow the Heavy on Vikings Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content from Skol Nation!
Whether Booth, who is recovering from a sports hernia, can finally become healthy will determine his future in the league. The NFL is often where players are given the first opportunity to recover with a longer offseason.
If he can shake the injury woes, he could have the highest ceiling of any corner in the draft.
“Booth is the best all-around playmaker at cornerback. He has lightning-fast feet and unreal corrective twitch and energy in his movement. He’s supremely explosive, with impressive fluidity, physicality and run support,” Pro Football Network’s Ian Cummings, who ranked Booth as the best corner in the draft and fourth overall, said. “At the catch point, Booth is hyper-instinctive, and he makes gravity-defying plays on the ball.”