By Johnny Dean
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are so loaded with offensive talent that the national media is drooling over them. You would think it’s a no brainer that this year’s player to watch would come from the offense. Sorry to disappoint but this year’s Buccaneer player to watch comes from the defensive side of the ball. In 2019 I picked Jamel Dean as my “Player To Watch” for the Buccaneers. For the 2020 season, I have one of the newest Buccaneers as the “Player To Watch”.
This player was a 2019 consensus All-American, was ranked #1 in interceptions for the Big Ten and was ninth in interceptions returned for touchdowns. He was also #1 in interception return yards and was ranked fourth in the Big Ten in 2019 with 58 solo tackles. This player was also a key on special teams while adding a punt return for a touchdown. He was ranked sixth in 2018 in return yards.
Jr. By Name Only
At this point you may have figured out I’m talking about Buccaneers second round pick Antoine Winfield Jr. As a safety, he is amazingly versatile. When playing over the top he can bait the quarterback with the best of them. His eyes are constantly focused on the quarterback and his closing angles are excellent. In the pass rush he also excels at making plays on the ball. This seems to be second nature to him. His tackling ability shows little regard for contact which makes him a threat wherever he lines up. Watching tape on Winfield Jr. reminds you a bit of another Buccaneer defensive back, a certain Buccaneer who wore the number 20.
So despite the talent Tampa Bay has added to the offense, this year’s “Player To Watch” goes to the defensive side of the ball in Winfield Jr.