Whenever a team selects a prospect in the first round, expectations are set high for their on-field performance. It’s why players like Justin Jefferson have grown to be loved by fans while Garrett Bradbury has had fans tearing their hair out. As for the 2022 draft class, Lewis Cine was at a disadvantage from the get-go.
The Minnesota Vikings broke the cardinal rule of the NFL Draft, trading with their divisional rival Detroit Lions. In that trade, Minnesota acquired pick No. 32, and they used that pick on the safety out of Georgia. Needless to say, that trade had some Vikings fans feeling uneasy. In order to ease that feeling, Cine has to be great.
He has a long way to go, but some positive signs came out of the Vikings minicamp. Cine recorded some snaps with the starters at camp, confirming that he is in fact in the mix for a starting safety spot in 2022.
Given that Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum are still on the team, it was not a guarantee that Cine would be a starter when the Vikings drafted him. That said, it appears that Minnesota will be running some three-safety sets in 2022 with Ed Donatell’s revamped defensive scheme. This opens up the possibility that all three of Bynum, Cine, and Smith could be on the field all at the same time.
Even prior to mandatory minicamp, Cine appears to have taken a major role for the team. At the rookie minicamp, the former Bulldog made strides toward being a leader amongst the group, and head coach Kevin O’Connell has been challenging him to be great throughout the spring.
The pressure is on for Lewis Cine, and while he has some big shoes to fill, the rookie seems poised to take the challenges head on. He is the first safety selected with a Vikings first-round pick since Smith in 2012, a whole decade ago. If he comes even close to having the impact that the veteran has had on the franchise, the pick will be very much worth it.