Early success of Antoine Winfield Jr. is no surprise to Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians
Even as a second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, former Minnesota star Antoine Winfield Jr. has proven to be one of the biggest steals. Not only has the former Gopher made contributions in his rookie season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’s a big reason why the team is just one victory away from reaching the Super Bowl.
Winfield carved out a starting role for himself early in his career with the Buccaneers and has delivered in a big way. He’s piled up 64 tackles, 6 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and an interception during the regular season, helping Tampa Bay to an 11-5 record. Not a bad year for a rookie.
His production hasn’t declined in the postseason, either. In two games, Winfield has been responsible for 12 tackles, 11 of those being solo stops. He’s also forced a fumble, helping get the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game.
Some may be surprised the former Gopher is having so much success in his first NFL season. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is not one of them.
“It was as easy a choice as there was [in the NFL Draft]. With his bloodlines and the way he plays — his tape was unbelievable,” Arians said while meeting with the media this week. “You know of his football intelligence and such a great kid. So, really nothing there that would surprise me that he’s had this much success.”
Winfield will try to help his team take down Green Bay and Sunday and punch a ticket to the Super Bowl. He’ll have his hands full, trying to figure out future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field.
In the 2020 NFL Draft, Winfield was taken with the 45th overall selection by the Bucs.