Minnesota Gophers Junior defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. has a decision to make if he wants to enter the NFL draft. His stock has continued to rise throughout the season and if he does decide to make the jump, the Minnesota Vikings need to try and get him on their squad.
Winfield Jr. is the son of Antoine Winfield who was a standout during his time with the Minnesota Vikings. Dad’s knowledge of the Twin Cities was a big reason for Winfield choosing to play his college ball in Minneapolis, and it makes sense if he plays his pro ball only a few miles away from TCF Bank Stadium.
Winfield Jr. was recently named the Big Ten defensive back of the year, and with the Vikings, he could make an impact right away.
After having a great secondary since Mike Zimmer took over, they have taken a big step back this season and currently rank 20th against the pass giving up 242.9 yards per game.
After this season Mackenzie Alexander and Trae Waynes are both free agents. Safety’s Jayron Kearse and Anthony Harris also can leave this offseason. The team could also release Xavier Rhodes and save some money, which might be a smart move with the way he has been playing. With a lot of change expected, it would be smart to target Winfield Jr. who could play right away.
Matthew Valdovinos of Pro Football Network gave the following overview of Winfield Jr:
“Antoine Winfield Jr.’s draft stock is currently the highest it’s ever been. After his two interception performance against Penn State, many are starting to see him for what he is: A top five safety in this draft class. He lacks elite size, but makes up for it with solid technique and athletic ability. He has the speed to play in any coverage, but is a sure enough tackler and strong enough at the point of attack to play at the line of scrimmage. Add on his elite ball skills, and you’ve got quite an intriguing prospect. The medical history is worrisome, and his size stems questions. However, Antoine Winfield Jr.’s draft stock has been skyrocketing all season. If he continues to play at the level he has, then first-round consideration could become a real possibility. I currently grade Winfield Jr. as a top five safety prospect, and a second-round player.”
If the Vikings could get Winfield late in the second round, that would be a huge boost to Mike Zimmer’s defense.