Debate: Should Bucs draft Jameis Winston with No. 1 pick?


If you're the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, do you feel good enough at this point, knowing the on-field and off-field strengths and weaknesses of Jameis Winston, to take him with the No. 1 overall pick?

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  • Bucky Brooks
  • Winston ready to thrive in NFL

Absolutely. Winston is an exceptional quarterback prospect with the tools to succeed in a pro-style offense early in his career. Although I'm troubled by some of his off-field issues, I believe the proximity to Tallahassee would allow the Bucs to vet his transgressions and make Winston an easy sell for ownership as well as the fan base. Considering the impact that quarterback play has on a team's playoff prospects, I would opt for Winston if I were the Bucs.

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  • Gil Brandt
  • Bucs should roll the dice on Winston

In my estimation, Winston is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft. He has all the measurables and played in a pro-style offense. When Florida State came to Dallas for its opener against Oklahoma State in late August, I had the opportunity to visit with all the FSU coaches, including Jimbo Fisher, who told me Winston was the best quarterback he'd ever had, from a talent standpoint and as a worker. Yes, he played much better in 2013, but I think all the off-field issues he was dealing with affected him on the field this past season. I think he's awfully immature, but that's different than being malicious. By all accounts, he's not. If you can get him into a smaller town, a town like Tampa, he has a chance to become an excellent quarterback in the NFL. If I were the Buccaneers, I'd roll the dice.

I wouldn't feel comfortable enough, for a couple of reasons. My primary concern is that I just don't trust his maturity. Leadership, maturity and tremendous work ethic are required of quarterbacks taking over rock-bottom franchises. Leadership in college can be different than in the pros -- ask Johnny Manziel. If one element is missing, that can be trouble. My second concern is that I fear the pass protection in Tampa Bay will keep Winston on the run, and that isn't one of his strengths. I would have no problem taking Winston if I were a more established team with a strong offensive line.

I would feel good enough drafting Winston No. 1 overall if the Bucs are going to stick with their current offensive system. I have few, if any, questions about Winston's on-the-field ability and believe he would be a good fit, given his remarkable anticipation and ease with throwing to big receivers, like the ones the Bucs have in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. I know the interceptions increased in 2014, but Winston's admission that he was cognizant he forced throws -- because he wanted to rather than because he had to -- tells me he knows exactly what he's doing with every throw. His off-the-field issues will be scrutinized, but I think once GM Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith sit down with Winston, they'll be much more comfortable with his personality and be OK with what he will do with his time away from the facility.

I definitely would not feel comfortable taking Winston first overall if I were the Bucs. Winston's inconsistent play this season is more than enough to make a shrewd general manager pause, particularly Tampa Bay's. Winston struggled in first halves, especially, and had enough poise and moxie to overcome some significant halftime deficits. I expect he will measure, test and throw like a first-round talent at the NFL Scouting Combine, which will drive his draft value in the right direction. But to me, his play on the field in 2014 won't support the measurables well as scouts dig into his film.

Even though he will be the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft -- and the Bucs certainly need a pro-ready quarterback -- I would not take Winston No. 1 overall. I question whether he can be the public face of a franchise, which is what a quarterback taken with the No. 1 overall pick will have to be. Yes, he needs to polish some rough edges on the field -- just like any quarterback prospect -- but my misgivings strictly are off-the-field issues.

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