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Minnesota Vikings 2011 Player Outlook: DB Antoine Winfield

Bryan HighfillCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2011

Considered one of the best tackling cornerbacks in the NFL, Antoine Winfield is entering his age-34 season. But looking at last year's statistics, it's clear he has shown no signs of slowing down.

With all the uncertainty surrounding their secondary, Winfield has been the one constant bright spot, and has played a big role in Minnesota's improved pass defense. 

Since joining the Vikings in 2004, Winfield has averaged 72 tackles and 2.5 INTs a season. Not bad for the 5'9" "Mighty Mouse." On top of that, he's made three consecutive Pro Bowls.

Even while he enters the twilight of his career, Winfield has still continued to play at an above average level (look no further than his Week 16 performance against the Philadelphia Eagles). Other than the injury to his foot in 2009, Winfield has also proven to be extremely durable.

In 2010, the Vikings featured Winfield as more of a nickel-slot package defender instead of starting opposite the opponents best receiver. With Minnesota's usage of the "Tampa 2" scheme and underwhelming safety play, many fans think Winfield could make the switch to safety and prolong his career (after all, he signed a five-year extension in '09).

The Vikings could move Winfield to strong safety where he would continue to impress in run support, but he also has the awareness and athleticism to break up the deep ball or come up with a pick. Not only would his presence dramatically improve the safety position, he could also be used as a cornerback in an emergency situation.

Paired with last year's breakout safety, Husain Abdullah, Winfield could have an All-Pro type of season in 2011.

 

2011 Prediction: 84 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 FR, 5 PD

(Note: FR = Fumble Recovery, PD = Pass Deflections.)

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