Jameis Winston had a so-so showing at the NFL Combine last week, running a 4.97 in the 40-yard dash and recording a 28.5-inch vertical leap. While Winston probably wasn’t going to blow scouts away with his athleticism to begin with, those numbers were still a tad underwhelming.
But should we care about them?
“Not really,” Fox Sports football analyst Joel Klatt said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The only thing you have to ask yourself is what would Manning or Brady do? For instance, I don’t think Manning or Brady could go 12-3 on the broad jump on two consecutive jumps.”
That, if you didn’t catch it, was a reference to Connecticut cornerback prospect Byron Jones, who set a combine record by leaping 12 feet and three inches in the broad jump.
“Maybe Brady (could do that on two jumps), but definitely not Manning – especially after the neck surgeries,” Klatt said. “So what does it matter for Jameis Winston? Very little.”
So what should we take from Winston’s performance? And Marcus Mariota’s, for that matter?
“I think it was important for them to come out and compete,” Klatt said. “I know that (Winston’s) people thought he was going to be in the mid-4.8s (in the 40-yard dash). So was it disappointing for him as an individual? Probably. Does it matter? No. Did it matter how they threw? Not really. The people as far as evaluators, though, they just love that these guys actually came out and just competed and said, ‘We don’t really care if this is going to hurt or help our stock. We’re just going to come out here and compete because that’s what we do.’”
And if you think that’s common, you had better think again.
“We haven’t had a first pick in the draft throw at the combine since Cam Newton,” Klatt said. “Not even Andrew Luck – the All-American axe-wielding, bearded Andrew Luck. He didn’t even throw at the combine. So I think most people were just happy that (Winston and Mariota) came out there and competed – and they did a heck of a job.”
But what about Winston’s delivery? A lot of scouts say it’s too slow.
“He is definitely sloppy with his footwork and a little slow, and he doesn’t have a quick release over the top – or stroke,” Klatt said. “It’s just like shooting a basketball, to me. Throwing a football is very similar to shooting a free throw. You never want to change your actual throw, but what you do is you use your legs and your base in order to create all the torque and momentum to create different velocities and touches. And so Jameis, he’s got a slow delivery – or stoke of the football – and he’s kind of slow and sloppy with his footwork. And when you marry the two together, yes, it is an elongated delivery.
“Do we see elongated deliveries in the NFL?” Klatt continued. “Yeah, we absolutely do. Is it what leads to some of the interceptions? There’s no question – and he threw 18 of them. There’s only one player in college football that threw more. So that’s a concerning thing. You got to take care of the football. He was unable to do that last year. Now, the one saving grace for him is he bails himself out in clutch time and plays as good as anybody in the fourth quarter.”