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NFL Draft 2022: What reliable Georgia safety Lewis Cine brings to the Vikings

Lewis Cine had the kind of career that seemed quiet and uneventful, only because it went pretty much as everyone expected: Very well.

This could bode well for minnesota vikingswho picked Cinema with the final selection of the first round.

Georgia’s defense had a lot of stars and guys who made huge plays, and if you quizzed even Georgia fans on a) who was the team’s leading tackler, and b) who was the defensive MVP of the national championship game, they may say a few names before getting to Cinema.

Which again could bode well for Cine’s NFL career.

Cinema just did the job at strong safety the past two years, making plays when needed in the back end and rarely (if ever) being the guy who was around the ball for a big play. If there was a weakness on last year’s Georgia defense it was probably the secondary, which at times had leakiness in coverage. But Cine was the one who stabilized things in the back, keeping things from getting worse on pass plays and being very dependable in run defense. He was the cleaner in Georgia’s secondary.

A blue-chip recruit out of Texas — where he moved from Massachusetts late in high school — Cine played off the bench as a freshman behind JR Reed, who had been a starter on Georgia’s 2017 team that nearly won the national championship. Then Cine ascended to the starting role late his freshman year, and started the last 27 games of his career, including the national championship, when he had seven tackles.

Dane Brugler on Lewis Cine (No. 3 S, No. 33 overall prospect in The Beast)

A two-year starter at Georgia, Cine played free safety in former defensive coordinator Dan Lanning’s scheme, also seeing time at strong safety and the “money” position. He was born in Haiti, grew up in Florida, learned to play football in Boston, became a top recruit in Texas and earned All-American status at Georgia – a diverse journey that concluded with him earning Defensive MVP honors in the 2021 national championship game .

With his range, explosiveness and appetite for contact, Cine is a do-everything safety and led a talent-rich Georgia defense in both tackles and passes defended in 2021. Although he has room to tidy up his tackling technique, he is at his best as a physical run defender, running the alley like a freight train and tuning up his target. Overall, Cine lacks ideal size by NFL standards and has marginal ball skills, but he is an enforcer vs. the run with the athleticism in coverage to make plays. He is an ascending talent with NFL starting skills, similar to Xavier McKinney as a prospect.

Top College Highlight

During the national championship, Cine charged upfield and made a big hit on Alabama running back Brian Robinson, stopping him for a short gain. The hit was what made the highlight. The awareness was what NFL scouts have to like: There was plenty of open field for a big play if Cine hadn’t snuffed it out.

What you may have missed

Cine’s hairstyle — mop-style, a la Sideshow Bob in “The Simpsons” — was a trademark for him the past couple years at Georgia. His hair went over his eyes during media interviews. But he changed it in advance of the draft on the advice of co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who told him to “bring (his) hair up and be professional.”

Superlative

You need awareness to play safety, and Cine showed it consistently at Georgia. The above play in the national championship was one example, along with another: Cine spotted .a tight end coming open in the flat, where two Georgia players had vacated in order to blitz, and Cine surged up to make a tackle for loss/ Another example, in a less notable game, saw Tennessee try a halfback option and Cine having none of it, hanging back and knocking away the downfield pass.

(Top photo: Tony Walsh/UGA Athletics)

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