May 26, 2024

Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine’s position for the upcoming 2024 season is not assured. Despite being the first pick chosen by the new Vikings management led by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Cine’s performance has fallen short of expectations. His rookie season was hampered by a lower leg fracture in the third week of the 2022 season, but he has been physically unrestricted since participating in spring OTAs and minicamps last year.

During Brian Flores’s tenure, the Vikings utilized a three-safety scheme, yet Cine ranked below five other players in terms of safety snaps. Despite being on a four-year, $11.4 million contract, Cine was left out of the lineup for eight out of 17 games in the recent season, only playing eight defensive snaps, all of which occurred in a decisive Week 16 defeat against the Green Bay Packers.

Vikings rookie safety Lewis Cine makes debut at Philadelphia – Twin Cities

The effectiveness of Adofo-Mensah’s initial draft choices, particularly Cine and second-round cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., has come under scrutiny due to the limited impact they have had. Addressing concerns, Adofo-Mensah acknowledged that both Cine and Booth are still in the process of writing their stories, but their future with the team is uncertain.

“Cine didn’t really have a rookie year,” Adofo-Mensah explained, noting the injury and the subsequent adjustment to a new defensive strategy under Brian Flores. He emphasized the ongoing belief in the team’s players and the commitment to their development but acknowledged the results-oriented nature of the business, stating that the outcomes will determine their future with the team.

A Tale of 2 Drafts for Vikings, Adofo-Mensah

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s choice to trade the 12th overall pick, which he inherited due to the challenges in the final year under Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer, has not played out as he expected. Entering the draft with only three selections within the top 150 picks, Adofo-Mensah traded the 12th and 46th picks from his first draft to the Detroit Lions for picks No. 32, 34, and 66.

Utilizing several other trades, Adofo-Mensah strategically maneuvered up and down the draft board, including making a deal with the Green Bay Packers, who selected receiver Christian Watson at No. 34. In the end, Adofo-Mensah transformed the initial three picks (No. 12, 46, and 77) into a total of six selections, acquiring picks No. 32, 42, 59, 66, 165, and 169.

Here are the players he selected in those first five rounds:

Rd. 1, No. 32: S Lewis Cine
Rd. 2, No. 42: CB Andrew Booth Jr.
Rd. 2, No. 59: G Ed Ingram
Rd. 3, No. 66: LB Brian Asamoah
Rd. 4, No. 118: CB Akayleb Evans
Rd. 5, No. 165: DT Esezi Otomewo
Rd. 5, No. 169: RB Ty Chandler

Apart from Ingram, who has proven to be a reliable starting guard, and Chandler, the Vikings haven’t witnessed significant contributions from their top draft picks from two years ago, particularly the top four selections. There seems to be some regret in the organization, especially considering that Kyle Hamilton, who earned an All-Pro nod with the Baltimore Ravens in his second season, and Trent McDuffie, the eighth highest-graded cornerback according to Pro Football Focus, were available at the 12th pick.

Adofo-Mensah’s second rookie class is showing promise, with Jordan Addison, Mekhi Blackmon, and Ivan Pace Jr. emerging as consistent contributors for the future. According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings rank second in wins above replacement (WAR) from rookies on a per snap basis. This indicates that the Vikings obtained the second-highest quality snaps from their rookies, trailing only the Houston Texans, who secured their first playoff berth in four years with notable performances from C.J. Stroud and Tank Dell.

Vikings Must Get 2024 Draft Right

Adofo-Mensah, O'Connell, Vikings

Adofo-Mensah has emphasized the significance of this offseason for the franchise, signaling a potential departure from Kirk Cousins after his six-year tenure as the veteran quarterback. Making the correct decision regarding the quarterback position, whether it involves Cousins or not, will be crucial for Adofo-Mensah as it could determine the extent of time he has to reconstruct the remainder of the roster.

Despite any quarterback decisions, the Vikings are still facing substantial needs on defense, particularly in areas such as edge rusher, defensive tackle, and cornerback. Addressing these defensive gaps is imperative if the Vikings aim to be competitive in the upcoming season.

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