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Monday, July 11, 2011
Antoine Winfield's full repertoire revealed

By Kevin Seifert

In kicking off our summer Calling Canton series, we noted there are a number of ways for players to gain critical acclaim. Some generate immediate attention, others blossom later in their career and a few benefit from adjusted judgments over time.

A few of you tripped over that final category, but I think we have an excellent example in Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield. To be clear, I'm not including Winfield in this series. Fair or not, a player with three Pro Bowl selections in 13 seasons isn't likely to draw the serious attention of the voting committee.

Antoine Winfield
Antoine Winfield has been a steady presence in the Minnesota secondary since joining the team for the 2004 season.
With that said, I'm happy to see Winfield benefiting from adjusted judgment over time in the final years of his career.

Cornerbacks with low interception totals are often bypassed for postseason awards, and Winfield played 10 years before his first Pro Bowl recognition. Even Winfield has admitted his Pro Bowl years weren't necessarily his best, but it takes time for some less tangible attributes to be evident on a national scale.

To that end, I thought Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus did an excellent job putting together a comprehensive analysis to demonstrate why and how Winfield is a special player. In describing him as the NFL's "most complete" cornerback of the 2010 season, Monson noted:
Monson makes clear Winfield is not the best cornerback in the NFL, a point I would agree with. But the numbers illustrate a cornerback who tackles well, is disciplined if not elite in coverage and has playmaking instincts on the blitz.

Winfield has averaged 1.8 interceptions per season in his career, a figure that has often clouded judgment of his overall game. There are many observers, including some NFL coaches, who can't understand this late-career fascination. To me, it's overdue. It might sound strange, but here's what I've always thought: Winfield is a better football player than he is a cornerback.