Jameis Winston has elected to forgo his final two years of eligibility at Florida State and has declared for the NFL Draft. We’ll analyze his pro prospects in just a minute, but what do we make of his decision to leave school now? Is that the right move?

NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah says no.

“I’ve said all along I’ve thought the absolute best thing for his career would be to come back to school for one more year, stay out of trouble, have a clean slate for a year, show that you can mature and make good decisions off the field – and I thought the play on the field would take care of itself,” Jeremiah said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I thought he would be a lock to be the first pick in next year’s draft. Now, when you look at the quarterback group we have this year, it’s not very inspiring, and he is a ridiculously talented guy. He’s very gifted.”

Indeed, as of now, Winston and Marcus Mariota are the only quarterbacks in the running for a top pick.

“I went to the Rose Bowl game,” Jeremiah said. “And if you look at (Winston’s) stats – and this is why in scouting you got to make sure you’re scouting with your eyes and not just your ears and what people say – but for me as an evaluator, sitting there in the press box studying both guys, Winston was far more impressive with what he was doing: working in the pocket, making NFL throws, sticking balls on guys on digs and corner routes, some of which were dropped, versus another guy that’s just kind of a pick-and-pop, catch-and-throw offense that doesn’t really translate all that well. I left the stadium feeling a lot better about Winston than I did about Mariota.”

Doug Gottlieb’s main concern with Winston – at least on the field – is his relatively slow release. People often compare Winston to Big Ben due to their size, style of play and intangibles, but Roethlisberger has a very condensed throwing motion, whereas Winston takes more time to unwind.

Might this be a problem in the NFL?

“Well, he’s tightened it up a little bit from last year to this year,” Jeremiah said. “Here’s when you worry about a guy’s release. (Byron) Leftwich is the name you’ll probably hear a bunch about. So both guys probably (have) similar arm strength. Leftwich had a big arm, Winston’s got a big arm. However, the reason I think Winston will be okay is because Leftwich was one of those classic, strong-armed guys that would wait to see guys get open and then release the ball. You can get away with that in college without throwing with anticipation. Winston, on the other hand, throws with outstanding anticipation. So that, to me, negates some of (the) long-release topic that’s going to be discussed.”

Jeremiah added that Winston is typically two or three steps ahead of the defense.

“In fact, that led to some of the picks he had this year,” Jeremiah said, “because he throws with such anticipation and trust and he had some young receivers that didn’t know what the heck they were doing.”


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