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- Position: Quarterback (QB)
- Class: Sophomore (redshirt)
- College: Florida State
- Ht/Wt: 6'4", 231 pounds
Jameis Winston is a breath of fresh air for quarterback-needy teams: a prototypical passer who looks like a franchise player on the field and played in a pro-style offense in college. Off the field, he has some questions to answer.
Winston processes the game very effectively; some reports are trickling in from scouts who say that his understanding of playbook concepts is the best they've seen since Peyton Manning. He really has a tremendous mind for football schemes. Winston rarely seems to panic, no matter the situation.
His accuracy is good because he anticipates his receivers coming open and throws them into their breaks. Sometimes he lets his mechanics break down, which can send passes off target, often causing him to miss high. Winston reads the full field and does a good job choosing the right target, but sometimes fails to identify defenders dropping into zone coverage, especially over the middle, which leads to interceptions. Winston is very difficult to bring down in the pocket, and his strong legs let him run for extra yards when the play breaks down.
Winston has had several personal incidents in his time in college, which will raise concerns for scouts. He was investigated for a sexual assault case and acquitted, but there are some who suspect the Tallahassee police didn't run the investigation appropriately. He was cited for shoplifting $33 worth of crab legs from a grocery store (which will be removed from his criminal record when he completes sanctions for the case). He stood on a table and yelled an offensive sentence in the Student Alumni Union. His off-field demeanor didn't seem to cause issues with his teammates, and while I take any case of violence against women seriously, a lack of evidence means that the sexual assault case will likely remain unresolved. If Winston had a clean record off the field, I feel confident in saying he'd be the consensus top player in the draft, and it seems that NFL teams feel that his problems can be mitigated in the professional league.
Solely in terms of football abilities, Winston is clearly my top quarterback in this class, and a Top 5 talent. While he's not nearly as fast as Marcus Mariota, he's a better passer, and reads the field extremely well. He also plays better under duress. People may raise concerns about the number of interceptions he threw this season, but don't count out his incredible Heisman-winning season in 2014 with a better supporting cast. I think he'll end up like Andrew Luck in the NFL: a very productive passer who plays aggressively and ends up with a large chunk of interceptions in the process. The difference maker will be his attitude and maturity off the field. I think Winston can keep it together, and that's why I continue to grade him above Mariota.