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O'HARA'S DRAFT PREVIEW: 5 safeties that could interest Lions

The name is familiar for one of the top safeties in this year's draft, and so is the game.

Antoine Winfield Jr. of the Minnesota Golden Gophers has more than his father's name and their similar physical size going for him.

Antoine Winfield, the father, performed at a level bigger than his size (5-9, 180) in 12 seasons at cornerback for the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings. He played 191 regular-season games with 173 starts, made three Pro Bowls and intercepted 27 passes.

Antoine Jr. is 5-9 and heavier at 203 pounds. Like his father, he was a playmaker in the two full seasons he played for the Gophers.

He had 2.5 sacks, an interception and four passes defended as a true freshman in 2016 and seven interceptions in 13 games as a senior in 2019. In between, he played only eight games in 2017 and '18 because of injuries.

Good football players come in all shapes and sizes, and Winfield Jr. will go off the board somewhere in the 2020 draft that is not considered strong at safety. Xavier McKinney of Alabama and Grant Delpit of LSU are regarded as the top safety prospects.

Winfield was asked at the Combine what advice his father has given him.

"He really just tells me to be myself, and be my own individual person," Winfield said.

He was asked if he has watched film of his father playing in the NFL – four seasons with the Bills, eight with the Vikings.

"All the time," Winfield said. "It's just incredible to see what he did at his size. We're almost about the same size. My dad had a lot of heart, and that's kind of what I looked up to in him.

"That's something I kind of modify my game after. It's not about how big you are, how tall you are.

"It's how much fight you have."

View photos of Mike O'Hara's top 5 safety draft prospects that could interest the Lions.

Following is a breakdown on where the Lions stand at safety, with five prospects and one sleeper in the upcoming draft.

Lions' safety draft status: Lack of strength and depth of the position and priority of other needs make it likely the Lions won't take a safety early, and maybe not until Day 3.

Lions depth chart:


(Note: Some analysts consider Isaiah Simmons of Clemson a combination linebacker/safety. He is rated as a linebacker in this draft series and not included in the safeties.)

1. Xavier McKinney, Alabama.

6-0, 201. 4.63 Combine 40.

Stats: 3 years. As starter last 2 seasons: 11.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 5 interceptions and 20 passes defended.

Breakdown: McKinney got early playing time as a nickel linebacker, but he's predominantly a safety with good range and instincts. Big-game producer, he had two sacks and a forced fumble in a loss to LSU.

How he could fit Lions: Like many Alabama players, he arrives in the NFL ready to play. Likely a mid first round pick.

2. Grant Delpit, LSU.

6-2, 213. No Combine workout.

Stats: 3 years, starter last 2. Filled up the stats sheet: 199 career tackles (have one more on me), 17.5 tackles for loss, 8 interceptions and 32 pass breakups.

Breakdown: 2019 Thorpe Award winner as the nation's top defensive back, he showed his potential as a 2017 freshman – 3.5 tackles for loss, 9 passes defended and an interception. Range and size put him in competition with McKinney to be the first safety drafted.

How he could fit Lions: Fits the legacy of LSU safeties who were NFL playmakers.

3. Ashtyn Davis, Cal.

6-1, 202. No Combine 40.

Stats: 4 years, 49 games, 33 starts. 7 career interceptions, 19 passes defended.

Breakdown: Went to Cal on a track scholarship and made the football team as a walk-on. In track he won the 2017 Pac-12 110-meter hurdles championship. Started three games at cornerback as a 2016 freshman. Converted to safety in 2017 where his speed and range were assets.

How he could fit Lions: Speed on the back end as a Day 2 prospect.

4. Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota.

5-9, 203. 4.45 Combine 40.

Stats: 4 years. Limited to eight games in 2017-18 because of injuries. Closed out career with a big 2019 season – team-high 88 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 3 sacks.

Breakdown: Had seven interceptions in 2019, tying the school's modern-era single-season record.

How he could fit Lions: A savvy depth player, could be on the board late in Day 2 or early Day 3.

5. Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois.

6-3, 221. 4.45 Combine 40.

Stats: 4 years, 38 games, 36 starts, 13 interceptions, 31 pass breakups.

Breakdown: Combination of size, speed and athleticism (40-inch vertical jump) makes him a prospect. Mostly a safety at Southern Illinois but started two games at cornerback in 2018.

How he could fit Lions: An athletic player who could break in on special teams.

Sleeper: Josh Metellus, Michigan.

5-11, 209. 4.55 Combine 40.

Stats: 4 years, 46 games, 38 starts. 9 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions, 21 tackles for loss.

Breakdown: Logged a lot of playing time on the back end of Michigan's defense as a four-year player. Good speed for the position. Coached in high school by Devin Bush, a former Michigan star and NFL player whose son, Devin, played linebacker for Michigan and was a first-round draft pick in 2019.

How he could fit Lions: A depth prospect with long arms and big hands.

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