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Jameis Winston meeting with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday

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Presumptive top draft pick Jameis Winston is meeting with Tampa Bay Buccaneers officials Tuesday.


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NFL Media reporter Albert Breer reports that per a Bucs source, Winston arrived in Tampa on Monday night in advance of Tuesday's meeting. The Bucs confirmed the meeting via Twitter Tuesday morning.

Each team is allotted 30 player visits at its facility. Winston's visit is considered unusually early, as most occur in April after pro days. NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport reported that the rest of Winston's team visits will come after his March 31 Pro Day. One reason for the early visit with the Bucs was that both sides could fit it into their schedules.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said last week that Bucs officials had reached out to FSU coaches about Winston. Bucs coach Lovie Smith said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he would be comfortable making Winston the public face of the Bucs.

The Bucs definitely need a quarterback, and Winston is the most pro-ready quarterback available in this draft. But his off-field issues are well-documented, and Tuesday's meeting is just the latest step in the vetting process.

In a video on the team's website, Winston said he wanted to let the Bucs know that "I can be the face of this franchise one day." He also said he expected to be the opening-day starter for whomever drafts him -- "One thing about me is I like to compete" -- and that "I would love to be here."


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Josh McCown (11 starts) and Mike Glennon (five) shared the Bucs' quarterback job in 2014, but McCown was released in February (and then signed with the Cleveland Browns) and Glennon -- at this point in his career, at least -- isn't considered a viable long-term answer. While the Bucs also need a pass rusher, a safety, a linebacker and help along the offensive line, filling the hole at quarterback would seem to be the highest priority. Thus, the idea that Winston will be the No. 1 pick.

Smith hired Dirk Koetter as his new offensive coordinator, and Winston's skill set would seem to mesh well with what Koetter likes to do offensively. While Winston -- as with every NFL prospect -- has some mechanical issues he needs to work on, his background in a pro-style attack is a big positive. Winston has a strong arm and was 26-1 as a starter at FSU. He led the Seminoles to the national title in 2013, when he won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman, and guided them to a College Football Playoff semifinal appearance in 2014.

This will be the fifth time the Bucs have chosen first overall. They struck it big the first time, taking eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon in 1976. USC running back Ricky Bell was the No. 1 overall pick in '77, Auburn running back Bo Jackson the top pick in '86 and Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde went first in '87. Jackson never played for the Bucs, Testaverde's biggest successes came elsewhere and Bell's career was cut short by illness, though he had a big season in 1979, when Tampa Bay fell in the NFC championship game.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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