Beyond the Hype is a scouting report on the top prospects that are eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft. For these preseason editions, I will look at some top quarterback prospects and determine their strengths and what they need to work on in order to push themselves higher on team’s draft boards. First up is the returning Heisman Trophy Award winner, Jameis Winston and his prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Winston had about as good of a Freshman season as one could imagine in that he won a Heisman and a National Title. Even though Florida State lost some talent to the draft, they are loaded yet again this season and are the preseason favorite to win the title again. On top of all of that, he redshirted his first year of college, so he will be eligible for the draft after this season but will also have the option to stay another or even two more years. But you probably knew all that. So let’s focus on what made Jameis Winston so successful and areas that he will need to improve in order to be successful at the next level. I took a look at his games against Miami, courtesy of the excellent video provided by Draft Breakdown.
People are well aware that Winston is a good athlete, but what really stands out on this scramble is his patience and awareness. He keeps his eyes down field, looking to his right, but is able to sense the rush coming from his left and up the middle.
After that, it is just a quick sidestep and he has an easy time getting the first down as he doesn’t run into a defender until he is about 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. Being surrounded by ridiculous talent can be a blessing and a curse. On most plays, Winston only looks at half the field, because usually one of the receivers is able to get open on the side he is looking towards. Still, this play is important as he showed a smoothness in going through his progressions as he bounces his feet quickly from one side to the other.
It ends in a simple dumpoff for the running back, but it is one of the more important plays that I saw on tape as it shows a necessary skill in order to succeed in the NFL.
In the second half, things got ugly for Miami as their defense was clearly worn down. If a defense cannot find a way to pressure Winston, he will tear teams apart. He picked apart Miami in the second half and made it look effortless.
Jameis Winston is not perfect though, as one of the issues I have noticed is inconsistency with his accuracy from game to game. Sometimes, he can find his rhythm and throw everything on point and appear to be the best quarterback in college football, while other times, he can keep his inferior opponents in the game. This is a play where he throws a very poor ball.
He misses badly behind his receiver, and it turns into an easy interception for Miami. It looks like he noticed that open window a little too late, so he threw the ball into the empty space of the defense, but his receiver was already in that space which meant he would be well past it by the time the ball arrived. Still, this is that just takes refinement instead of an overhaul.
Another area of refinement is his throwing motion. It’s a tad longer than I would like to see in a prospect, but because he shows good awareness in the pocket, it doesn’t worry me a ton. It is something that I would like to see him shorten up, but it’s certainly not a Tebow situation either.
One of my biggest concerns with Winston is his tendency to throw high to his receivers. Missing low leads to incompletions where missing high leads to interceptions. He had receivers who were able to make plays on a lot of his balls but missing high consistently can lead to disastrous results. It is one of the key areas that I will be watching for this season.
One final thing that makes it more difficult to scout Jameis Winston is that he is surrounded by so much talent that it is hard to divvy up the credit for the success of their offense. Completing a pass to an open receiver is much easier than completing one in tight coverage. Because of his receivers getting separation, it makes the quarterback look much better. Winston was fine with his accuracy in this game (he did get much better in the second half), but there was definitely room for improvement, but he ended up going 21-29 for a completion percentage of 72.4 which is much higher than he would have had with average talent.
Overall, Jameis Winston is an elite prospect. With his arm strength, mobility, and awareness, he has the potential to go at the top of the first round. Still, he needs to refine his decision making, throwing motion, and become more accurate to truly cement his place at the top. There are a lot of exciting quarterbacks in college football, but Winston has the tools to be the best.