|Ben Liebenberg / NFL|
|Jameis Winston can confirm to NFL teams that he has desirable off-the-field intangibles by getting his degree.|
It's been widely assumed in media circles that Florida State QB Jameis Winston will declare for the 2015 NFL Draft following his redshirt sophomore season, but the Heisman Trophy winner's dad threw a little shade on that notion when he suggested his son will play two more seasons at Florida State.
Antonor Winston recently revealed the family's plans to have Winston play another year of baseball and two more seasons of football. Additionally, the family wants Winston to finish his college degree before pursuing a pro career in football or baseball.
While I'm certainly intrigued by Winston's talent and pro potential, I believe an extended stay in Tallahassee could help him blossom into a standout player at the next level. Here are four reasons why:
1. College graduates play longer and enjoy more success in the NFL.
There was a lot of conversation about the Philadelphia Eagles' decision to target college graduates in the draft, but the approach is certainly not a novel one in the NFL. For years, the rosters of top teams in the NFL have been loaded with college graduates. In fact, two of the top three teams with the most fifth-year seniors drafted squared off in Super Bowl XLVIII (the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos). Given the likelihood that a fifth-year player will have earned a college degree, the science behind the approach is sensible.
For Winston, the securing of a collegiate degree in biomedical or mechanical engineering would confirm his intelligence, work ethic and maturity. These traits are essential to success in the NFL, particularly at quarterback, where aptitude, industriousness and leadership are coveted at a premium.
2. The additional collegiate starts will ease his transition to the NFL.
Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Parcells believed top quarterback prospects should be three-year starters heading into the NFL. The two-time Super Bowl champion wanted to see enough visual evidence to make sure that a signal-caller was ready for the next level. Quarterbacks with 30-plus collegiate starts have enough appearances on the resume for evaluators to make solid assessments about their pro potential. Additionally, quarterbacks with significant experience have been exposed to various coverage and blitz tactics.
Thus, Winston's inexperience (just 14 collegiate starts) could prevent him from hitting the ground running as a pro. With two additional years under his belt, he would likely enter the league with at least 40-plus starts and more exposure to advanced pre-snap tactics (hot reads, sight adjustments and audibles) that are on par with the demands placed on an NFL signal-caller.
Jameis Winston through the yearsCheck out Florida State's Heisman-winning quarterback, "Famous" Jameis Winston, as he emerges as one of college football's top stars.
3. Staying in college will allow Winston to repair his reputation.
For all of the great things Winston accomplished on the field, the questions persist about his maturity and character based on a few transgressions over the past year. If Winston elects to stay in Tallahassee, he can change the perception about his ability to be a face of a franchise by displaying outstanding leadership skills on and off the field. Earning the "C" on his chest (team captain) and doing great deeds in the community will alleviate some of the concerns of NFL decision-makers down the road.
4. Another season of baseball could give Winston significant leverage down the road.
There is little doubt that Winston will attract interest as a Major League Baseball prospect after striking out 31 batters in 33 innings as the closer on the Seminoles' top-ranked baseball team. The right-hander posted a 1.08 ERA and showcased a fastball that has topped the 96-mph mark on the radar gun. Thus, Winston stands to be a top pick in the 2015 MLB Draft if he continues to dazzle on the mound. While NFL executives cringe at the thought of losing a top prospect to the diamond, the remarkable display of skill and athleticism in another sport could raise his value on draft boards around the league and make Winston the most coveted prospect in the 2016 class.
Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.