From now until the 2020 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#11 Antoine Winfield Jr./ FS/Minnesota – 5’11 202
- Very smart safety with a deep knowledge of the game
- Excellent deep safety who cleans up mistakes in front of him
- Downhill trigger is outstanding
- Has the ability to match up in the slot with receivers
- Does not make a lot of mistakes, in position most of the time
- Good tackler
- Versatile player who shows ability to play in man coverage
- Stocky, strong frame that served his father well for 14 seasons.
- Highly athletic player who can turn and run in any direction
- Reads the quarterback well and knows when to leave his assignment
- Shorter arms than desired for a defensive back
- Frame is stocky, but small. May struggle against length in the NFL
- Does not miss tackles, but does not strike with force in the run game
- Angles in the running game could be more consistent
- May not be able to stay with receivers in the NFL
- Limited matchup ability due to size
- Injuries forced him to miss eight games in consecutive seasons
- 2019 Consensus All-American
- 177 career tackles, three total touchdowns and four sacks
- Seven interceptions in 2019 tied Minnesota record
- Academic All-American 2017-19
- Big 10 Defensive Back of the Year (2019)
- Started nine game as a true freshman
- Finalist for Bronko-Nagurski (2019)
- Son of Antoine Winfield, who played 14 seasons in the NFL, Three-time All-Pro
If Antoine Winfield Sr. had played football in this decade, there’s a good chance he would play safety, just like his son, Antoine Winfield Jr. The two are eerily similar in their style of play, physical dimensions and skill set. The major difference between the two is that the elder Winfield played corner, and the younger played primarily free safety for the Gophers during his collegiate career. It is striking how similar the two are.
Winfield Jr. is an excellent free safety prospect who has a well-rounded game and the overall skill set to be a beneficial coverage player in the NFL. Like his father he’s a zone coverage player with the downhill burst to break up plays and keep the offense from making big plays in the passing game.
Intelligence and discipline are the hallmarks of Winfield Jr on the field. He has a professional approach to the game is nearly always in the right place and dissuades passes from even being thrown his way. That makes it tough to show a highlights of ‘nothing’ happening.
When quarterback do throw his way, he has the closing burst to make them pay. He has great speed, backed up by a good 40 time at the combine. (4.45). He’s not just a linear athlete either. Winfield Jr. can turn and run from sideline to sideline and make plays either on the ball or a receiver. Any pop fly to the middle of the field is fair game for Winfield Jr.
The 2019 Unanimous All-American safety isn’t just a passive coverage player though. Again, just like his father he’s a presence in the running game. He fires downhill and is a solid presence in the running game.
While he’s best roving deep in the secondary, he’s shown the flexibility to play in the slot against tight ends. This is especially encouraging given his height and arm length.
He can also line up in the box and provide adequate run defense. Despite his smaller stature he’s well built with a strong, athletic core and lower body. He’s a bit of an ankle-biter, but he does not typically miss tackles.
The biggest drawback about the Texas native is something he cannot control; his size. Winfield is short in stature, standing at just a shade over 5-9 with sub-par arm length. It doesn’t show up often, but Winfield may struggle against athletes who have the same level of skill that he does. His ability to recover when he does make a mistake is limited by his height and reach.
The good news is that there is precedent for a player with his exact dimensions being successful in the NFL, his dad. While that’s not a guarantee that Antoine Winfield Jr. will be a Pro-Bowl player, it’s an encouraging sign for teams that are looking for reasons to NOT draft a player who doesn’t fit the classic dimensions of a football player. His skill borders on first-round talent, but he’ll likely fall in favor of players with better measurements. That means he’s a steal waiting to happen from the middle of the second round on.
Projection: Round 3
Games Watched: vs Penn State, vs Wisconsin, @Fresno State, vs Nebraska, @Iowa