Giants could snag impact safety Antoine Winfield Jr. early on Day 2

Antoine Winfield Jr, Minnesota Golden Gophers. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Antoine Winfield Jr, Minnesota Golden Gophers. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The New York Giants parted ways with last season’s starting free safety. They can find a replacement early on Day 2 with Antoine Whitfield Jr.

Antoine Bethea is gone. That raises the chances of the New York Giants selecting a safety with the 36th overall pick. There may be a new Antoine in town, as right now, it certainly looks like Antoine Winfield Jr. will be available for Big Blue in the second round.

New York Giants fans almost universally hated the Odell Beckham trade. Most of them probably still do, but on the bright side; part of the return for him, Jabrill Peppers, is a good strong safety, and Winfield would be a great fit opposite him in the Giants deep into the secondary.

The best attribute of Antoine Winfield is easily his mentality. He’s a ballhawk, in the classic sense of the word. His instincts and athleticism help him get into a good position to make plays.

Winfield breaks hard on the ball and has intentions of taking it away every time. As a matter of fact, he’s quite comfortable with the ball in his hands. In college, the former Minnesota Golden Gopher had some success in the punt return game. That’s probably not an option in the NFL, given his injury history.

In both 2017 and 2018, Winfield was limited to four games each, due to season-ending injuries. A healthy Winfield, or even a 2019 Winfield, is unstoppable. There was a renewed energy around the Minnesota football program last season, and Winfield’s seven picks had lots to do with it.

A real gamer, Winfield checks all the boxes as a football player. He should have a great deal of knowledge. His father, Antoine Whitfield Sr, played cornerback in the NFL for 14 years, with three Pro Bowls to his credit.

Junior inherited his dad’s bulldog mentality and ball skills. For a safety, Winfield excels in man coverage. A quality that will be attractive to scouts this year. Safeties are increasingly expected to help out with more aggressive pass coverages, in today’s NFL.

There is more to like about Winfield. He plays the run as well as the pass. Tackle support in run defense isn’t an issue either as Winfield uses his dense 5-10, 195-pound frame to wrestle down ball carriers.

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He can either line up in the box or deep in coverage. Additionally, he’s versatile in both types of coverage and can handle different responsibilities. Winfield takes very impressive angles chasing after the ball when it’s in the air, but he’s also plenty effective as a blitzer.

It’s understandable that his injury history keeps him out of the first round. There was also some question his speed in relation to his potential as an athlete in the NFL, but after he ran a 4.45, 40-yard dash at the combine, those doubts were put to rest. I would take the chance on Winfield in the second, especially for the New York Giants who have a need at safety and a realistic chance for him to fall to them.

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What do you think about the New York Giants selecting Antoine Winfield Jr. in the second round? Let us know in the comments section below or on social media.