With the NFL draft quickly approaching, every franchise is going through their potential options and establishing a plan A, plan B, and even Plan C; anything can happen in the draft and teams must be reactive.
Winston Over Mariota
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the 1st pick of the 2015 NFL Draft and they are expected to select a quarterback after they cut ties with Josh McCown. In general, the quarterback class is a weak one, but there are two prospects that are separated from the rest of the pack; Jameis Winston from Florida state and Marcus Mariota from Oregon.
Winston would be the better option for the Buccaneers on the field, but character questions allow for there to be a serious debate on whom they will take in April. Lovie Smith, head coach of the Buccaneers, went on the record saying he would be comfortable having Winston be the face of his franchise.
Mariota athletically is unparalleled when comparing these two, but playing from the pocket consistently is how you win on the next level, and Mariota has not proven he could be a quarterback from the pocket.
Winston performed beautifully at the NFL combine showing he is the most accurate quarterback out the latest class of signal callers. Passing from the pocket is an art in the NFL that will never be replaced, and Winston has repeatedly shown he can do so, looking poised at the same time.
Steve Mariucci spent time with Jameis and went through the xXs and O’s of football on air. Winston amazed everyone with his tremendous football IQ at such a young age. NFL scouts compared his knowledge of the game to Peyton Manning, not a small compliment.
Michael Wilbon of ESPN was critical of these comparisons, “ I don’t believe any of this garbage. It’s garbage. Has he thrown a pass? Has he shown you that he cannot get beat in a bowl game? I’m talking about lately. Has he done anything since then? Has he had pads on since then? No he hasn’t Tony. Don’t fall for this junk.”
Wilbon has a point, it is premature to compare him to Manning, but his display of football knowledge was not garbage, it was extremely impressive.
Winston’s collegiate statistics are impeccable. In two seasons, Winston threw for 7,964 yards, 65 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. He also rushed for 284 yards and 7 touchdowns. Most impressively, he lost one game over two years and won 27, including a national championship his freshman season.
Jimbo Fisher, Winston’s head coach at Florida state, recently appeared on NFL AM and raved about Winston’s potential on the next level. Fisher compared Winston to Joe Montana, arguably the greatest quarterback ever.
“There are certain guys you just don’t want to play against. It’s not just “can he do it?” Fisher told NFL.com. "But there are certain guys you don’t want to play against. When you (NFL AM co host Eric Davis) played with Joe, if Joe got the ball at the end of the game, what was gonna happen? Your team was gonna win. That’s what this guy does.”
Needless to say, expectations are through the roof for Jameis after being compared to the likes of Peyton Manning and Joe Montana. If Tampa were to draft Winston, there would be no reason to believe they could not win their division.
Last season, the NFC South was atrocious, and the Carolina Panthers lucked their way into the playoffs with a record of 7 wins, 8 losses, and 1 tie.
Tampa Bay fans will be expecting a trip back to the post season if they draft Winston. Expectations will not overwhelm Winston; he admitted, “I plan on winning the Super Bowl next year.”