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Can Trae Waynes be a #1 corner?

With the departure of William Jackson, the Bengals need their splashy CB signing from 2020 to elevate his game.

Minnesota Vikings v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Sadly, William Jackson III wasn’t feeling the love from Cincinnati Bengals fans.

That doesn’t mean we weren’t giving him love. I know I was. I made this highlight video for him following his first season on the field. And I don’t think Bengals fans were particularly harsh on him in general.

Nonetheless, he was happy to get out, and now Cincinnati is without a clear #1 cornerback. That is a big concern in today’s NFL.

The strongest candidate to fill Jackson’s shoes is Trae Waynes, the former Minnesota Viking who signed a 3 year, $42 million deal with the Bengals in 2020. He, of course, was placed on injured reserve in September after suffering a torn pectoral muscle. So we’ve never actually seen him on the field for Cincinnati.

Waynes’ tape from Minnesota does not suggest he is a guy who can cover top receivers like Tyreek Hill, Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, or Keenan Allen, all of whom the Bengals’ defense will face this year.

Still, there is a reason the Vikings drafted him with the eleventh overall pick in the 2015 Draft. He is a fast, long corner who showed, during his time at Michigan State, that he is able to recover after getting initially beat, much like Jackson. He had a high ceiling coming out of college, and at only 28 years old, it’s fair to say he could still reach his potential, especially with a team that wants to give him a second chance so badly.

If Waynes can emerge as a solid CB1, the rest of the secondary should fall into place. The safeties are already capable of intimidating opposing offenses with the magnificent Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell roaming the deep field. And former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Hilton is arguably an upgrade at slot corner. Chidobe Awuzie will be the other boundary corner with Darius Phillips and Eli Apple providing depth.

We discuss Waynes’ ability to replace Jackson and the overall state of the secondary in the video below.

You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: