The Vikings used their top two selections in this year’s draft to bolster their secondary, though the prospects they landed may not be seeing major snaps right away. According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, neither safety Lewis Cine nor cornerback Andrew Booth are likely to play starting roles to begin the season.
Cine went No. 32 overall, the slot Minnesota took over as a result of their swap with the Lions which allowed Detroit to move up to the 12th position. The fifth and final member of Georgia’s elite defense to hear their name called on Day 1, Cine was a key contributor on the backend for the Bulldogs throughout his three-year college career.
Taking a step forward with each successive campaign, the six-foot-one, 200-pounder totaled 73 tackles last season, adding an interception and nine pass breakups. Known more for his physicality than his range or ball skills (dropping him below the likes of Kyle Hamilton and Daxton Hill in the position’s draft rankings), Cine has been competing with 2021 fourth-rounder Camryn Bynum for a first-team role. It appears the latter will get the nod to partner with Harrison Smith at least to start the season.
Booth was also selected in the wake of a trade, but in his case, the Vikings moved up to secure him. Hernia surgery may have hurt his draft stock, as he was considered a borderline first-rounder, but the Clemson product is healthy in time for Week 1. He registered 37 tackles (including three for a loss), along with five passes defensed in his final year with the Tigers.
He also ranked tied for second in the ACC with three interceptions, showcasing his ball skills which, combined with his athletic profile, give him a high upside. Instead of Booth, though, the Vikings are poised to use 2020 third-rounder Cameron Dantzler (who almost found himself being traded last offseason) as a bookend to Patrick Peterson on the perimeter.
The Vikings’ pass defense ranked 28th last season, allowing 253 yards per game through the air. While that makes their commitments to Cine and Booth understandable, familiar faces will prevent them from seeing full-time duty to start their respective careers.