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NFL Draft Preview: Minnesota Gophers Safety Antoine Winfield Jr

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Will Winfield be a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft?

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Penn State v Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The NFL Draft begins Thurday, April 23rd and we get the closest thing to real sports since the NCAA conference tournaments ended on March 11th. The Gophers will likely have 4 players drafted this weekend and we begin profiling the player who has the best chance at being drafted in the first round.

The last time a Gopher was taken in the first round was 2006 when the New England Patriots took Laurence Maroney 21st overall. Since then Ra’Shede Hageman and Maxx Williams have both been drafted in the 2nd round. But will Winfield be the Gopher’s first player taken in the first round in 14 years?

Antoine Winfield Jr - Safety

Measurables:

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 203 lbs

Combine Results: (Rank within position)

40 yard Dash: 4.45 (4th)

Bench Press: did not participate

Vertical Jump: 36” (8th)

Broad Jump: 124” (12th)

3 Cone Drill: did not participate

20 yd Shuttle: did not participate

Mockdraftable Spider Graph:

Antoine Winfield Jr. came the Gophers as a college defensive back with little recruiting buzz around him. He played his final high school seasons in Texas and besides having a very famous (and talented) father, not much was known about the younger Winfield. He started 9 games as a true freshman showing some real promise. But each of his next two seasons were cut short due to pretty significant injuries. In 2017 and 2018, Winfield was injured in the 4th game of the season. Then 2019 he was fully healthy and experienced a breakout season.

As a 4th year player but technically still a sophomore, Winfield exploded earning himself a number of postseason awards. He was a unanimous All-American, Big Ten defensive back of the year and Big Ten 1st Team. Going from oft-injured to a unanimous All-American meant it was time for Winfield to move on to the NFL.

Positives:

  • Good speed
  • Tackling ability
  • Instincts
  • Big-play ability

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of great size
  • Injury history

Highlights:

Mock Draft Predictions?

The consensus around Winfield is that there really isn’t a consensus. I think team’s like his playmaking ability and his natural instincts for the game, but his lack of size and injury history are keeping him out of the first round.

ESPN/Mel Kiper - Round 1 Pick 26 to Miami Dolphins

ESPN/Todd McShay - Round 1 Pick 19 to Las Vegas Raiders

NFL.com/ Chad Reuter - Round 3 Pick 74 to Cleveland Browns

The Athletic - Round 2 Pick 58 to Minnesota Vikings

CBS Sports - Round 3 Pick 85 to Detroit Lions

Draftwire/USA Today - Round 2 Pick 45 to Tampa Bay Bradys Buccaneers

Walterfootball.com - Round 2 Pick 36 to New York Giants

Prediction?

While I’m hopeful that one team decides to take a chance on Winfield in the 1st round, I think that most teams will assume that he’ll be there in the 2nd. Which he will be. I think Winfield goes on Friday but ends up being a 2nd round steal for some team. Out of high school, he was doubted because of his size. And his father was doubted because of his size. Winfield Jr. ended up an All-Americand the senior ended up being one of the best corners in the NFL throughout his career. Maybe someone takes him early.