Connor Neal | April 11th, 2020
Antoine Winfield Jr., SAF, Minnesota #11
Weight: 203 pounds
Year: Redshirt Sophomore
Games Watched: Nebraska (2019), Iowa (2019), Penn State (2019)
Despite Winfield’s size, he might play the biggest of all the safeties in this class. Winfield’s biggest concern is his history with injuries. He didn’t play a full season until 2019, missing games in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons. When Winfield was finally healthy and on the field, he is an aggressive and versatile playmaker who is around the ball at all times during the game. Winfield also comes from a lineage of NFL players as his dad is Antoine Winfield, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills but spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota Vikings and was a reliable starter for most of his career.
As you can see below, my grading scale is out of 100 and is graded based on 10 skills: range/closing ability, tackling, instincts, man coverage, zone coverage, speed, ball skills, run support/pursuit, physicality/big hit, and athleticism.
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|Winfield is all over the place on the field. Wherever the ball is, that’s where you’ll find this man. For being an average athlete, he closes in very quickly to the ball.|
|Winfield typically hits well. However, he has occasional laps where he waits a bit too long before going in for the tackle.|
|There are times where it looks like Winfield knows the exact play the offense is about to run. This man has absurd instincts about what the play is and where the play is going.|
|This guy is sticky as hell. Winfield might be the second best man coverage safety in this draft, behind Xavier McKinney. He has loose hips and does a good job following the receiver around.|
|Winfield isn’t as good at zone coverage as he is with man coverage. That doesn’t mean he can’t get the job done though. He is above average here too. He has the coverage skills to play nickel if need be.|
|Around the scouting community, there are some who don’t view Winfield as the fastest guy. When I watched his tape, I saw no problems with his speed. In fact, I thought he was actually pretty quick and didn’t have a problem keeping up with whoever he is guarding.|
|When Winfield was healthy this last season, he was a ballhawk. He came up with seven interceptions in 12 games. He also does a good job of breaking up passes.|
|Due to Winfield’s relentless nature and how he doesn’t shy away from contact, he is very useful in run support. He chases players down all over the field as well.|
|When Winfield doesn’t whiff on tackles, he lays the boom. A majority of the tackles he makes is a statement style hit. On the other side, Winfield doesn’t shy away from contact. He plays aggressively.|
|Despite what others may say, Winfield is a pretty damn good athlete. I don’t scout the combine, but let’s use his combine results as an example. He ran the fourth fastest 40 time for a safety at 4.45 seconds.|
Deduction: – 3 for his injury history
Final Grade: 85.5
Round Grade: Early 2nd Round
Projected Round: Round 2-3
Safety Rank: SAF 1
If Winfield can avoid injuries, this kid has a chance to be better than his father and the best safety from this class. I believe Winfield has the highest ceiling of all safeties in this draft class, but injuries may stall his career. We will have to wait and see if he can avoid injuries or not. Either way, it is well worth the risk for a team to take within the top 40 selections.
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Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images