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Trae Waynes, the junior cornerback from Michigan State, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after starting 27 consecutive games in the secondary for the Spartans. In 2014, Waynes was named Second Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten. He ended the season with 46 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INTs and 8 PBU’s. In 2013, Waynes was named Second Team All-Big Ten after a season that totaled 50 tackles, 3 INTs and 5 PBU’s. For his career. Waynes totaled 101 tackles, 6 INTs and 13 PBU’s in 36 games played. Physically, Waynes is a tall and lanky corner who has the length needed to win versus the NFL’s bigger wide receivers. He is a bit light, however, and appears to have a “skinny” frame. His lack of bulk and overall strength will be an issue when competing in physical coverage versus some of the top receivers in the pros. Athletically, Waynes displays promising attributes that project success in the NFL. He has very good body control, as he maintains his balance when asked to redirect. He has fluid hips and is able to turn and run at full speed. He’s a coordinated guy, showcasing the ability to adjust to the throw and get his hands in the way of the catch. Waynes has enough quickness to click and close and can drive on throws underneath him. While he doesn’t have elite burst, he’s capable of making plays on throws that are away from his man. Waynes possesses good ball skills and is at his best in man coverage. He has a good feel for the passing game and has a knack for turning and locating the ball at just the right time. Waynes is a willing defender versus the run, displaying a scrappy and physical style; He doesn’t shy away from contact and likes to throw his body into the fire. That said, he’s not the most reliable tackler and at times can take poor angles in the open-field.
BOTTOM LINE: Trae Waynes has the type of frame that when combined with his natural length and coverage skills can be developed into one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. He’ll need to bulk up while maintaining his speed and quickness. Waynes will have his most success in man to man, although he possesses adequate zone coverage skills as well. If he can become a more consistent tackler and a bit less of a risk taker, he has the baseline talent to be a starting-level corner in the NFL with promising upside because of his height and length. He’s a player with a Day 2 grade who will likely get pushed into round one because of the upward trajectory of his game.
GRADE: 7.8 (2nd round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)