2. Football IQ and skills
At a young age, Winfield started watching film with his dad, who was a three-time Pro Bowler in his 14-year NFL career. That head start in his childhood certainly paid off in a big way.
Winfield is one of the most intelligent and instinctive players in this year’s draft at safety, as he has a knack for seeing things unfold before they actually do.
"Against single-high looks in those situations, Winfield recalled from film study, the Nittany Lions liked to throw a deep route to Hamler, who would fade toward the sideline and away from the safety. Quarterback Sean Clifford would throw the ball over Hamler’s outside shoulder, further guarding against a safety getting over to break up the pass, and often get a big play. So at the snap, Winfield sprinted away from the post and toward Hamler. Clifford’s pass was a bit short, but Winfield was already in position for an interception — his second of the game — that would end a Penn State scoring threat and continue a monster performance that solidified his status as one of the best safeties in the 2020 NFL draft class."
One of Winfield’s best strengths is noticing cues from the quarterback and recognizing if they’re familiar with what he’s seen on film evidenced by this story from the Penn State game. He breaks on the ball quickly in the ground game and anticipates routes in the passing game.
Baiting quarterbacks into throws was also one of Winfield’s strong suits at Minnesota, and hopefully the results end up being the same once he makes the transition to the NFL.
This kid can flat out play, as it seems like Winfield is always where the ball is. Not to mention, he delivers hits with a level of intensity similar to that of Brian Dawkins.
Winfield still has a long way to go to be mentioned with a legend like Dawkins, but his personality on the field sets him apart from the typical defensive back, and he exudes confidence.
Also, Winfield is a freak athlete, as his quad muscles resemble those of Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley. This allows Winfield to have great body control and balance to stick with opposing receivers, tight ends, or running backs in coverage.
Winfield also flips his hips smoothly, which allows him to change direction and recover quickly if he gets fooled initially.
All the right traits and skills are there for Winfield to develop into a star in the NFL. He showed it on the field at Minnesota and at the NFL Combine, which is why Winfield has climbed up on draft boards with a sky-high ceiling.