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Vikings potential draft prospects: Minnesota Safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings have multiple holes that need to be addressed. This week on, there will be a series of draft prospects being highlighted before the draft starts on Thursday night.

The Vikings need a lot of help in the secondary, but the safety position isn’t the biggest area of concern. That could change on draft night if the team decides to part ways with last year's breakout player Anthony Harris. The Vikings used the franchise tag on Harris but there have been rumors of a trade involving him all offseason.

The tandem of Harrison Smith and Harris was one of the best in the league in 2019, beyond that there is no depth at the safety position. Both Jayron Kearse and Andrew Sendejo left in free agency, so at the very least the Vikings will have to address the position as a depth move.

Antoine Winfield Jr. would be able to come in on day one and be a chess piece in Mike Zimmer’s defense. The in-state favorite had a great season in 2019, helping the Gophers finish in the top 10 for the first time in a very long time. He’s not the biggest safety prospect, but he is just as big of a ballhawk as any safety in this class.

He had the injury bug in 2017 and 2018, but he got his chance to show how good he was in 2019. Winfield finished his 2019 campaign with seven interceptions and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award for the nation's top defensive player of the year.

On top of being a ballhawk type safety, Winfield shows flashes of his dad in the run game. He flies downhill from his safety position and isn’t afraid of big collisions. His dad was arguably the most fun Viking of all time to watch make plays and Winfield Jr. shows flashes of his dad on film.

Not only would it be fun to watch another Winfield suit up for the Vikings, but the departure of Trae Waynes leaves the number 26 wide open for the former Gopher. Winfield recently spoke with Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson and had this to say about the possibility of playing with the Vikings.

“I grew up a Vikings fan. I grew up around the area, so I’m familiar with it all,” Winfield said. “I was raised a Vikings fan and it would just be a dream come true to play for them.”

A lot will depend on what happens with Anthony Harris but seeing Winfield Jr. in purple just seems right. He is likely to go somewhere in the second round, so it will be interesting to see if the Vikings have him in their plans for the future.

Stay tuned for more draft profiles coming throughout this week on The profiles will be addressing positions of need for the Vikings, and there will also be reaction pieces available after each day of the draft.

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