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Is Jameis Winston Still a Top NFL Prospect?


The controversy surrounding Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has prompted discussion over his status as a top NFL prospect. Here, two Athlon editors debate the question: Would you draft Winston?


Truth be told, I like Oregon’s laid back Hawaiian signal-caller, Marcus Mariota, best among NFL Draft class of 2015 QBs. But I’d definitely draft Florida State loose cannon Jameis Winston over injury-prone peers like UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Baylor’s Bryce Petty.

Like everyone else, I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger. So I’d like to think that someday soon, Winston will look back on these days and be embarrassed by it all. For his sake, hopefully his eureka-moment regrets come while he’s an NFL millionaire and not a has-been who could’ve been.

Personally, I think the 20-year-old Winston — who was born in Bessemer, Ala., (population 27,500) and attended Hueytown (population 16,000) High School (enrollment 1,100) — is just an immature country kid.

Winston was thrust into the national spotlight on Labor Day Monday Sept. 2, 2013, when he completed 25-of-27 passes for 356 yards, accounting for five TDs and zero turnovers in his first career start for Florida State University (enrollment 41,500).

Since then, he’s won the Heisman Trophy in New York and BCS national title crystal at the Rose Bowl (21 million viewers). He’s been the closer for the Seminoles baseball team and arguably the highest-profile, most-accomplished athlete in all of college sports. But he’s had more than his share of run-ins.

First, there is a serious rape allegation for which a Title IX investigation is pending. That is far and away the most concerning charge — regardless of the current climate of the NFL.

He was also caught on tape stealing crab legs from the local Publix grocery store. But that may have be a wink and nod deal with Winston. FSU was called “Free Shoes University” by Steve Spurrier; it may have become “Free Seafood University.”

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The latest error in judgement was his most juvenile. Winston shouted profanities in public, allegedly on a dare from a friend.

A 6'4", 230-pound redshirt sophomore, Winston clearly has plenty of growing up to do. But he still has plenty of time — and undeniable NFL talent.

— Nathan Rush


Let’s see: The NFL has been taking PR body blows over the misbehavior of some of its superstars. The league is struggling to attract female viewership, and the relentless 24-hour news cycle gleefully latches on to every last example of the mistreatment of women at the hands of the misogynistic thugs who populate NFL rosters. While the league’s popularity has yet to suffer, the growing ledger of misdeeds has the NFL in the crosshairs of the morality police — and appropriately so. Now more than ever, character counts when you’re putting together a draft gameplan.

And you’re asking if I would select crableg thief/emotional two-year-old/screamer of sexist obscenities/sexual assault suspect Jameis Winston?

Florida State, which has tolerated an awful lot from its athletes over the years, finally had enough and shelved Winston for an important conference game during what the Noles hope will be a national championship season. When FSU tires of a superstar’s antics — this is the team that opposing fans call the “Criminoles” — it’s a signal to all 32 NFL franchises that this guy simply isn’t worth the trouble.

And his open defiance of his own coach in dressing out for the Clemson game despite the suspension is a clear indication that he’s an uncoachable mess. He’s basically Vince Young with a rap sheet. And like Young, it’s pretty clear that Winston has peaked in college. Even if Winston does an about-face and shows signs of newfound maturity (which seems unlikely), the cloud of his past misdeeds will follow him into all 32 war rooms, where his résumé will be met with a chilly response.

“He’s a big-ass immature kid,” one NFL scout told Sports Illustrated. “I think he needs to stay another year and prove that he can keep himself clean. Maybe even two more years. The skill is there, but …”

Football culture, with its casual acceptance of misogyny and general bad behavior, is about to undergo a needed transformation. The Jameis Winstons of the world need not apply. 

— Rob Doster