Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Antoine Winfield Jr played a hybrid position during the 2022 season. When the team’s defense lined up in their base 3-4 defense, he lined up as a free safety. But in the team’s nickel packages, Winfield Jr lined up in the slot. This was a change from his first two seasons where Winfield Jr lined up predominantly as a free safety.
Todd Bowles spoke to this at the 2023 Scouting Combine via Brianna Dix of buccaneers.com.
“His tackling is outstanding, his intensity is outstanding, what he does for the team is outstanding. I think he’s one of our top three defensive players. He can only get better with experience, you know? I don’t want to move him around as much this coming season than I have this year – I’ll try to leave him at one spot as best as I can.” Bowles stated. “I think he’ll master that spot and get even better for us.”
Winfield Jr being moved back to free safety will make him the “last line of defense” as well as require him to diagnose plays and base his coverage and/or support on what he sees. This will put Winfield Jr in position to provide over the top support against the pass and attack when a running play ensues.
“I will probably be in the middle of the field more,” Winfield assessed. “I like having that freedom to roam around and be in the middle of the field, have that presence…I’m able to play around and cover different things than being in the slot.”
This change for Winfield Jr will allow him to use his instincts and awareness to diagnose plays and put himself in the best position for the defense to succeed.