Following the Rookies: NFC South Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Updated: Nov 7, 2020
The Buccaneers made arguably the biggest splash in Free Agency picking up the GOAT, Tom Brady. Quietly though behind the scenes though they had a sneaky good draft. Their 1st pick was Offensive Tackle Tristian Wirfs who helped make a good offensive line into a great offensive line. With their 2nd pick, they took safety Antoine Winfield Jr, son of former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield. Both of these rookies have had an immediate impact on the success of this Buccaneers team.
Starting in all 8 games he has played in, Wirfs has not missed a single offensive snap so far this year giving up only 1 sack to Khalil Mack. On top of that, he has only recorded 3 total penalties, 1 holding, and 2 false starts. The entire Bucs offensive line has only given up a total of 10 sacks in 8 games which is fantastic for Brady. Wirfs strengths come from his quick feet and agility to be able to stay in front of speed rushers. His lateral movement is fantastic which helps him easily block smaller, speed edge rushers. As seen by the sack he gave up to Khalil Mack, he needs to improve his ability to anchor on the edge against power rushers with an elite bull rush. He has solid hands to hit his marks in pass protection and can find new marks when missing the initial contact. His run blocking is solid as he possesses elite strength to move players at the point of attack. He can get caught leaning forward, especially when attacking defenders at the 2nd level which can lead him to miss/fall off some blocks. His main goal right now is to keep Tom Brady off the ground, and so far he has done a really good job of that.
Antoine Winfield Jr. has started in all 8 games he has played in, averaging 99% of defensive snaps. He has recorded 44 tackles (31 solo/13 assisted), 1 tackle for loss, 2.0 sacks, 4 QB hits, 1 interception, 4 passes defended, and 1 forced fumble. He has made an impact at all levels of the field, whether it be a single high safety, playing in the box, or even lined up as an outside corner, he looks comfortable where ever he is asked to play. When playing as a single high safety he has shown that he is very good at coming up to make open-field tackles as the last line of defense in the run game as well as showing solid range to make plays in the passing game by simply just putting himself in the right place on the field. In the game against the Panthers, he lined up as an outside corner in man coverage against Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey ran a quick slant and Antoine took his read steps then quickly planted and tackled McCaffrey for a short gain. He has shown that he can rush the passer on blitzes, taking on blocks from running backs and still getting to the QB. He is the ultimate chess piece for Todd Bowles defensive that already has a stacked front 7. He is a player who is going to be in the running for defensive rookie of the year if he continues to play like this. The Buccaneers arguably has the best 1-2 punch with their 1st 2 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
*All stats are from pro football reference