Jameis Winston seems primed to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft next week. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select him with the first pick as we all expect, it would be completely justified.
Winston had an unbelievable college career. He won every game he started expect last year’s National Semifinal game against Oregon, finishing his college career with a 27-1 record over two seasons. As a freshman, he became the youngest person to ever win the Heisman Trophy and he holds just about every offensive award college football has to offer.
When the college season was in full swing, Winston was constantly compared to former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck.
Coming out of Stanford back in 2012, scouts lavished over Luck. Although he didn’t have the greatest measurables, his leadership abilities were clear. From his beginning as a freshman, Luck was able to make the key plays to rally the team and win games. He finished his college career as the all-time leader for winning percentage of any quarterback in the history of Stanford University with a 31-7 record.
Winston’s college career was very similar to Luck’s college career.
Winston also had that on-field leadership ability in college. Throughout his college career, he has shown the distinct ability to rally the team around him and win. It’s the quality that has made Luck a successful NFL quarterback and it is a big reason why Tampa Bay might make Winston the first pick.
Unfortunately, the comparisons aren’t all good for Winston.
As the scouting process has gone longer, more questions have surrounded Winston. His measurables ended up being questionable, at best. He has had several “incidents” over the past two years, which has caused many scouts to doubt his maturity. Complicating matters even more, some are starting to doubt his work ethic after appearing out-of-shape during an offseason workout.
Speaking to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, an unnamed NFL executive compared Winston to former No. 1 pick, and all-time draft bust, JaMarcus Russell.
“With Jameis Winston I see JaMarcus Russell,” the executive said. “I see the body. I see the lack of focus. I see the same coach and system. Only Winston’s not as good an athlete and his arm isn’t as strong as JaMarcus’.”
When you really think about this assessment, it is completely correct. They are very similar in size and measurables, with Winston being slightly worse than Russell in just about every category. The LSU team Russell played on used a very similar pro-style system and had very similar athletes as Winston’s Florida State team. In addition, they have both shown a distinct lack of focus in their college career.
This is a very scary similarity for Tampa Bay. They are one good quarterback away from revitalizing their franchise and becoming a perennial contender; or they are one bad quarterback away from another decade of losing.
Watching both Russell and Winston attentively while they were in college, the Florida State team rallied around Jameis Winston both years he quarterbacked the team. In contrast, Russell was not known for his leadership ability. He was more of a pure athlete who relied on talent to win games.
That being said, it is hard to count on someone’s leadership ability before we have ever seen him in an NFL locker room. There is no way of knowing how a team will react to someone and whether he will have the ability to rally them as he did in college.
For the Buccaneers, it may be the most important question their franchise has ever had.