Bucs security Antoine Winfield Jr. made a right away impression as a rookie in 2020. He was a serious a part of Tampa Bay’s Tremendous Bowl-winning protection, beginning his profession off in one of the best ways doable. Then, he adopted up that debut season with a Professional Bowl yr in 2021. And with that, in simply two years, he has established himself as one of many NFL’s high safeties.
As a part of its ongoing positional rankings sequence, ESPN listed out its Prime 10 safeties final week. The record, primarily based on a survey of greater than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and gamers, ranked Winfield at No. 9 heading into 2022. His highest rating was No. 3, whereas his lowest was outdoors the highest 10.
Right here’s what Jeremy Fowler wrote in regards to the soon-to-be 24-year-old security:
Winfield has emerged as a major participant in his first two seasons, incomes a number of top-five votes from personnel who love his mixture of toughness and vary. As one NFC exec stated, he may not be “particular” but, however he’s monitoring for that standing. “[Winfield] was actually, actually good [last year],” the exec stated.
Winfield did a little bit little bit of all the things, recording two sacks, two interceptions, three fumbles recovered and 88 tackles on his approach to the Professional Bowl. In move protection, Winfield allowed 5.8 yards per goal when he was the closest defender, tied for twelfth amongst safeties (per NFL Subsequent Gen Stats).
“His [5-foot-9] measurement may damage him a bit, however that’s actually the one factor with him,” an AFC scout stated. “He’s good in opposition to the move, and he can help the run. Good instincts.”
An NFL coordinator added, “He’s acquired actually good spatial consciousness, and he can cowl from the slot.”
Winfield Has A Case For ‘Particular’ Standing Already, However He Can Cement It This Yr
It’s fascinating to learn that an nameless NFC government stated that Winfield isn’t “particular” but. As a result of in some ways, he actually is. He’s your prototypical do-it-all security. And because the nameless AFC scout stated, his measurement is the one actual knock on him. On that entrance, anybody who has seen him play is aware of his measurement doesn’t impede a lot of what he’s in a position to do on the sphere. He can cowl, observe the ball, catch the ball, defend in opposition to the run and blitz the quarterback extraordinarily properly. He has been challenged to usher in extra interceptions this yr, which might assist elevate him to the subsequent degree.
Over two seasons, he has 182 tackles (126 solo), 5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, seven quarterback hits, 4 pressured fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, three interceptions and 12 passes defended. His presence within the Bucs’ secondary is extraordinarily vital. It’s his versatility that has Tampa Bay in a great place with the place heading into the brand new season, even with out Jordan Whitehead.
So, what’s maintaining Winfield from being extensively thought of as a “particular” or “elite” security? It’s one thing so simple as time. He’s solely two seasons into his profession, so his general physique of labor may not line up with the sport’s high safeties simply but. That’s a part of what makes 2022 so vital for him. With one other season like we noticed in each 2020 and 2021, he possible reaches that upper-echelon standing. And when it comes to incomes a second contract with the Bucs, Winfield must be in place to try this this yr as properly. The staff has to already be pondering forward with the third-year security, because it’s unlikely that the decision-makers will need 2023 to be a contract yr for the 2020 second-round choose.
So, for nearly as good as Winfield has been by means of the primary two seasons of his NFL profession, one of the best actually could also be on its approach. And that’s the enjoyable half.