Jameis Winston Selection Begins New Era


The Jameis Winston era in Tampa began at 8:12  pm tonight as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected the Florida State quarterback, as predicted for virtually the entire draft season.

The Buccaneers have had four #1 draft picks in their history and whiffed before, selecting players like Bo Jackson who never played a snap for them.

As Winston smiles into the camera, Bucs fans are left cautiously excited about the pick. There’s two ending to this story based on the two quarterbacks he’s often compared to – Ben Roethlisberger or JaMarcus Russell.

Rothelisberger’s won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is renowned for his toughness. He, like many top quarterbacks, seems to be playing better with age.

JaMarcus Russell is a competitor for biggest draft bust of all time.

Winston’s success will revolve around his maturity and ability to transition out of the semi-pro college style he played in to the faster pro game. Winston charmed interviewers with his personality during the run up to the draft. He’ll need to work hard and keep smiling that million-dollar smile to erase the stigma of his off-field college missteps.

Winston made headlines as a college superstar but also for a sexual assault accusation, shoplifting and an incident with other students that resulted in a half-game suspension. Whatever else he brings to Tampa, he’ll have that baggage too.

Mar 31, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston greets a young fan after FSU Football Pro Day at the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

So what do the Buccaneers get in Jameis Winston?

It’s not a guarantee he will mature into a franchise quarterback, but the tools are all there. Winston has size, arm strength, athleticism and football IQ. He had a high interception to touchdown ratio but also engineered a ridiculous amount of 4th quarter comebacks. That perseverance in the face of adversity is a unique intangible that none of the other quarterback prospects this year can match.

But Tampa also gets a chance to break the 1-2 quarterback curse.

As Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post details, whenever quarterbacks have been taken back to back with the first and second picks overall, one of the two has flourished and the other has failed.

Kilgore writes, “The pattern of one quarterback thriving and the other flaming out doesn’t mean only — or either — Winston or [Oregon quarterback Marcus] Mariota will succeed. But it does speak to the difficulty of choosing a quarterback at the top of the draft, and how often expected strengths or weaknesses fail to pan out.”

To a certain extent the onus is on Winston more than Mariota due to the off-field issues. But Winston was the unanimous first pick for a reason – his experience in the pro system versus the spread offense can’t be overstated. Other quarterbacks in those previous dichotomies had the same difference – most famously Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck in 2012.

Luck was the 2012 sure-thing first pick and Griffin was the spread offense hero that outplayed him for 2012 Rookie of the Year honors, then plummeted to the basement of quarterback statistics afterwards while Luck continues to fly high.

Hopefully Winston can show he’s a high flyer too.

Next: NFL Draft Day 1 Grades and Analysis

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