Let’s be real, here: Syracuse has struggled in the secondary over the years. Even with all of the success the Orange have had at various positions, somehow, the program has always had a tough time finding elite defensive backs. Now, the team has had better success with safeties than cornerbacks over the years, with only Kevin Abrams and Will Allen really being standouts at CB in years past. But in the next couple of years, Corey Winfield could find himself being mentioned with those two former Orange stars.
Last season, Winfield played in eight games before missing the final four games of the year due to injury. In his eight appearances, he made 30 tackles, with 2.0 sacks and a pair of interceptions. He also had three pass breakups, and forced a fumble.
Heading into the new season, with a new defensive coordinator and entirely new defensive scheme, people are obviously going to start wondering which players from the previously regime are going to make an easy transition. By all accounts, Winfield’s name should be kept at the top of that list. The 6-foot-1, 190 pound cornerback (previously a wide receiver) is one of the most athletic players not just on defense, but on the entire roster, and is viewed by the new staff as a potential pro prospect before it’s all said and done.
Yes, I just said that. I spoke with someone close to the team earlier today, and the indication I got was that the staff is extremely high on Winfield’s potential. The consensus seems to be that the redshirt junior has an outstanding chance of becoming an NFL-caliber corner as he continues to learn and grow into his position. Because of this, he’s one of the players we should probably be keeping a close eye on with practice about to open tomorrow morning.
Syracuse obviously has some pretty big question marks on defense, and the secondary definitely struggled a year ago. But if Winfield plays up to the staff’s expectations, it will go a very long way toward the overall development of the Orange defense in 2016. He’s definitely one of the players to watch as things start kicking into gear this weekend.