Antoine Winfield is one of the Seahawks’ most intriguing additions, in my opinion, this offseason. He’s a cornerback with a well-established reputation as an elite tackler who has also graded out well in the past in coverage. Yet he’s also 36 years old and entering his 15th season in the league. One of the most interesting aspects will be to see how his body holds up this season and if he’s lost a step or two.
Pro Football Focus, though, gives Winfield stellar grades for his play the last five years, and the Seahawks are banking on getting something similar from Winfield, who will likely see a lot of the field as the team’s nickelback. Pro Football Focus is a site that prides itself on evaluating players not on reputation but on performance, and they are currently releasing their rankings of the best players at each position over the last five years.
Winfield checked in as the fifth-best cornerback against the pass in the league. Here’s, in part, what PFF wrote about him: “His game is built upon allowing catches for short yardage and making stops in coverage — evidenced by four complete seasons in which he is yet to allow more than 10 yards per reception into his coverage.”
But the most interesting nugget from the site: “It shouldn’t be forgotten that Winfield gets the job done in coverage and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the past three years.”
Winfield fared better when it came to evaluating cornerbacks against the run: He was ranked first, and it wasn’t even close. There’s a tendency in sports to saddle reputations on players and keep building on those reputations even when the performance doesn’t back it up. But in Winfield’s case, his play validates his status as one of the league’s top corners against the run.
The only other corners to be ranked in both categories? Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson.