Vikings ask Lewis Cine to direct from day one
EAGAN — For first-round picks, the road to the NFL is bumpy.
Minnesota Vikings top pick Lewis Cine played in the national championship game, then straight into the NFL Combine prep, then competed in the Combine, then practiced on the pro day of Georgia, then visited NFL teams who could draft him, then was picked by the Vikings and flew to Minnesota to be introduced, then Friday entered the field in a No. 6 jersey for minicamp recruit.
On top of all that and learning his first NFL playbook, Cine is asked to take on an additional task at the start of the Vikings’ offseason program: directing.
“I said to him today, ‘Hey, run this group here,'” head coach Kevin O’Connell said of his message to Cine. “There’s a reason you were our first draft pick and he has this makeup and it comes naturally to him to lead by example. But I challenged him, take the rest of this DB group under your wing. You have andrew [Booth Jr.] with you, you have Akayleb [Evans] and a few guys there that we’re going to rely on to compete.
The Vikings had a smaller group of rookies and tryouts than we’ve seen in the past and focused exclusively on 7-on-7 drills and passing. the necessary checks for secondary school.
“How I saw it was property of the information, the calls there,” O’Connell said. “These safeties drive the ship a lot of ways down, whether we’re playing shell cover or single high cover, much of the same look, so any rep he can get his teammates out with and communication, it’s a huge thing for him.
Coming from the best defense in college football, Cine said he felt familiar with some of the basics of Ed Donatell’s scheme and had to adapt the different terminologies. Of course, he admitted that there is a certain learning curve necessary.
“I would be lying if I told you I was on point every time I checked,” Cine said.
The young Vikings safety has a strategy for taking on the top role his coach has given him: to focus on the value of people-to-people relationships. He made it his goal to meet everyone he could within the TCO Performance Center, not just his teammates and coaches.
“I think for one in terms of leadership, you have to know everyone,” Cine said. “You have to know who you’re working with and you have to be respectful and courteous to everyone, so I’m starting to know the name of every single person serving food, people I just see walking down the halls. I show up and get their names because it may seem small, but it goes a long way…it’s a small thing with a big impact.
Naturally, O’Connell is looking for more than Cine to get to know his new colleagues. He’s looking for the intensity he brought to the best defense in college football. The Vikings head coach noted that people shouldn’t confuse Cine’s friendly nature with his attitude during practice.
“I think he has a calm demeanor towards him… But then even if he’s just in a helmet and not in shoulder pads and it’s not full contact, you watch him go over the white lines and the Lewis Cine of the band is coming out,” O’Connell said.
The Vikings have set up a rookie minicamp to go straight to OTAs, which will include the entire roster and Cine’s accomplished new colleague Harrison Smith. Still, Cine plans to find his own way of leading despite his rookie status.
“I’m a natural leader, I know I don’t have to do much, just be myself,” Cine said.