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Jameis Winston, the RS Sophomore quarterback from the Florida State Seminoles, enters the 2015 NFL Draft as one of the most successful passers in ACC history. Winston led Florida State to the first ever BCS Playoffs in 2014, passing for 3,907 yards, 25 TDs and 18 INTs along the way (65.3% completion rate). He was named first-team All-ACC. His four 4th quarter comebacks in 2014 led the nation in that category. It was a “down” year by his standards, as he was virtually unstoppable during the 2013 season. He was the youngest Heisman Trophy winner in the award’s storied history after a season that included a National Championship victory over Auburn. Winston was a consensus All-American selection and first-team All-ACC pick. He totaled 4,057 yards, 40 TDs and 10 INTs (66.9% completion rate), capping off a career that despite only being two years long, rewrote several Florida State records. Winston is the school’s single-season record holder for completions (305 in 2014) and TDs (40 in 2013), and finished his career as the school’s record holder in yards per game (295) and TDs per game (2.41). His 27 consecutive starts with a TD pass is also a Seminole record, and he is tied for first for the most 300 yard games in a career with 14. He’s second all-time on the school’s TD list (65) and third for passing yardage (7,964). Winston has added 851 career rushing yards and 7 total rushing TDs to his impressive resume of passing statistics over the last two seasons. Physically, Winston possesses the prototype quarterback measureables; Sports a tall frame with enough mass to take the hits required from the position. A true pocket passer who can stand tall and fire the ball on all three levels of the passing game. Better than average mental clock; Knows when to tuck and run or slide out of harm’s way. A throw-first QB; Side-steps and slides through traffic before bailing on the play. Has enough power to break free from oncoming rushers and keep plays alive. Has a strong arm that can make all NFL-level throws; Displayed the kind of zip and velocity required to squeeze the ball in tight windows on intermediate passes. Applies proper touch and loft to screen passes and downfield over-the-shoulder throws. Mechanically sound with an average-paced release that he shortened between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Throws with a ¾ motion, bringing the ball up around the earhole level. Footwork tends to be inconsistent, especially when there are defenders at his feet; He can get a little sloppy and hop into his throws or release off his back foot, but his arm is plenty strong enough to get away with it. Better passer when rolling to his right than his left; Has complete command over location and velocity when rolling right, tends to lose track of his footwork and base when rolling left. A generally accurate passer, although when he misses, he misses high; Tries to put too much zip on the ball resulting in some sailing throws. A risk-taking quarterback who trusts his arm too much; Makes some head-scratching throws leading to concerns about his ability to read defenses and defenders. Tries to force the ball into coverage which lead to 18 INTs this past season; Some of the passes that he completed in traffic would be likely NFL INTs. More accurate on short and intermediate passes than he is on the third level, but his deep ball is plenty good enough to be part of his arsenal. Not an overly athletic guy and he won’t threaten to do much harm with his legs, but he possesses enough slippery movement skills to avoid pressure and pick up positive yardage with his legs. Is entering the NFL with significant character concerns including sexual assault allegations (no charges filed), shoplifting (crab legs incident) and immature campus behavior (screaming vulgarities that led to suspension).
BOTTOM LINE: There’s no denying that Jameis Winston has the natural arm talent to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He can make every throw on the route tree and is a generally accurate quarterback when the pocket is clean. While he does have moments when the ball gets away from him a bit, I’m not nearly as concerned about that as I am some of his questionable decision making. He’s a gambler and a downfield, aggressive quarterback. So I understand that there will be some bad moments mixed in with the many good. But I’m concerned that he’s forcing the ball into coverage because he simply isn’t processing things quickly enough. He did a lot during the Scouting Combine, and the NFL Draft process in general, to prove he has a very high football IQ, but his game tape has too many negative reps like that to ignore. That said, Winston proved to be a gutsy winner who can put a team on his shoulders and win games. Add that with his arm talent and overall ‘plus’ combination of traits, and you have a quarterback worthy of an early selection. His character issues need to be investigated fully, as he appears to be a risky investment at this juncture from an “above-the-shoulders” standpoint.
GRADE: 8.1 (1st Round)
-submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)