Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is a phenomenal football player, and is likely going to be the first overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. But despite his talent and how much it may help an NFL team, it’s time to stop putting him on the pedestal and deifying him as such.
Winston may be a future All-Star player, but I think we can all agree that his behavior over the past couple of years makes him far from an All-Star person. Most recently, when reporters asked him why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should take him with the first pick, Winston’s response was short and sweet: “Because I’m the best player in the draft.”
Granted, the general philosophy of any team participating in a draft, regardless of selection position, is that the best player is picked each and every time. Given Tampa Bay’s needs, and in spite of the fact that NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah feels that USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams is the best player in this year’s draft class, chances are that Winston’s going to Tampa Bay is not just likely, but a near-certainty.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Winston shouldn’t be running his mouth at this time. This is a player who has a laundry list of character issues, and this recent display of arrogance, albeit a small one, only adds to it.
Almost a year ago, Winston was caught shoplifting crab legs from a Publix supermarket in Tallahassee and given a ticket.
This past college football season, he was suspended for the Seminoles’ game against Clemson after being seen shouting obscenities at fellow students whilst standing on a table near FSU’s student union.
Winston later apologized for his “selfish” actions.
That leaves us with the giant elephant in the room: the sexual assault allegations against Winston. Sure, the state attorney chose not to pursue charges against him and the university ultimately cleared him of any wrongdoing after conducting an investigation of its own. Just the same, the fact that he was accused at all is going to leave people asking questions, this writer included.
Sure, FSU did appear to take the “Code of Conduct” hearing seriously, even bringing in a former Florida Supreme Court justice to preside over it, but was the administration serious about it or just using that aspect as window dressing for what was ultimately a kangaroo court?
And yet, despite all of these incidents, scouts and NFL teams cannot stop gushing over how great an NFL career Jameis Winston is going to have. With 7,964 passing yards and 65 touchdowns across two seasons with the Seminoles, plus a 66.1 completion percentage and national championship under his belt, it’s hard to argue against taking him first overall.
But how great a player’s on-field performance is gives zero indication of how they may spend their time away from the game.
Winston is likely going to sign a large contract if he is picked first, but what if he ends up with further off-field issues during training camp. Unlike Florida State, or any college program for that matter, the NFL’s strict Personal Conduct Policy will not give Winston a freebie just because of who he is.
On the professional level, he’s going to be held to the exact same standard as every other player in the league, be it a perennial Pro Bowler or regular benchwarmer.
Talented as he may be, his past brings up a few red flags and his high opinion of himself should only add to concerns over them.
Thus, the Buccaneers and other teams should be wary as the NFL Draft draws closer.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports