Bucs S Winfield Jr. Well On His Way To ‘Special’ Status

Bucs security Antoine Winfield Jr. made an instantaneous affect as a rookie in 2020. He was a significant a part of Tampa Bay’s Tremendous Bowl-winning protection, beginning his profession off in one of the simplest ways potential. 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 collection, ESPN listed out its High 10 safeties final week. The listing, 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 exterior the highest 10.

Right here’s what Jeremy Fowler wrote in regards to the soon-to-be 24-year-old security:

Bucs FS Antoine Winfield, Jr. – Photograph by: Cliff Welch/PR

Winfield has emerged as a first-rate 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 won’t be “particular” but, however he’s monitoring for that standing. “[Winfield] was actually, actually good [last year],” the exec stated.

Winfield did just a little little bit of all the pieces, recording two sacks, two interceptions, three fumbles recovered and 88 tackles on his solution 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 harm 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 bought 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 12 months

It’s fascinating to learn that an nameless NFC govt 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 capable of do on the sector. He can cowl, observe the ball, catch the ball, defend in opposition to the run and blitz the quarterback extraordinarily effectively. He has been challenged to usher in extra interceptions this yr, which may assist elevate him to the following degree.

Bucs FS Antoine Winfield, Jr.

Bucs FS Antoine Winfield, Jr. and Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill – Photograph by: USA At this time

Over two seasons, he has 182 tackles (126 solo), 5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, seven quarterback hits, 4 compelled fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, three interceptions and 12 passes defended. His presence within the Bucs’ secondary is extraordinarily necessary. It’s his versatility that has Tampa Bay in a great spot with the place heading into the brand new season, even with out Jordan Whitehead.

So, what’s preserving Winfield from being extensively thought-about as a “particular” or “elite” security? It’s one thing so simple as time. He’s solely two seasons into his profession, so his total physique of labor won’t line up with the sport’s high safeties simply but. That’s a part of what makes 2022 so necessary for him. With one other season like we noticed in each 2020 and 2021, he doubtless reaches that upper-echelon standing. And by way of incomes a second contract with the Bucs, Winfield needs to be in place to try this this yr as effectively. The crew 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 pretty much as good as Winfield has been by way of the primary two seasons of his NFL profession, one of the best actually could also be on its method. And that’s the enjoyable half.