MINNEAPOLIS - University of Minnesota All-American Antoine Winfield Jr. is officially headed to the NFL, and he’ll be teammates with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
Winfield Jr. was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 45 overall pick in the NFL Draft Friday night. He's the highest Gophers' draft pick since Rasheed Hageman went No. 44 overall in 2014, and second-highest since Maxx Williams in 2015.
He was named the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year after leading the Gophers with 88 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks and finished in the top five in the country with seven interceptions.
Winfield was named a consensus All-American after the season.
Earlier this week, Gophers coach P.J. Fleck was asked what type of player the team drafting Winfield would be getting.
“They’re getting a relentless football player with an incredibly high IQ. He’s a lot in a little frame. You’re getting a linebacker-type tackler, you’re getting a corner coverage person and then you’re getting a wide receiver with the catchability. You’re getting I think one of the smartest players we had on our football team to be able to play football at an incredibly high level,” Fleck said.
Fleck added, “Ten years down the road, people are going to really look back and say ‘Boy, how did we miss on Antoine Winfield Jr.’ if they don’t take him? I think he’s a special player, he’s a once in a decade type player that comes along because he has it all.”