Jameis Winston's character bigger concern in 'new climate'

NFL teams evaluating Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston have little to be concerned about where the Heisman Trophy winner's on-field intangibles are concerned, but NFL Media analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah believe the sexual assault allegation that continues to follow Winston could be a bigger issue in his scouting evaluation than it would have been in years past.

"We're in a new climate in the National Football League. You're talking about some serious allegations, not charges, but allegations, that he has to answer," Brooks said in an exchange with Jeremiah on the third-year sophomore's draft status. "Then you throw in the immature acts, there are a lot of conversations, a lot of dialogue that needs to take place between Jameis Winston and team officials before they can get comfortable with him."

The new climate to which Brooks referred is in part driven by the NFL's plan to strengthen its personal conduct policy when it comes to penalties for domestic violence issues. Jeremiah referenced the changing dynamic as well, and how it might affect Winston or any other draft prospect with off-field issues involving women. Winston was not charged criminally in the sexual assault case, but he still could face discipline from a forthcoming school code-of-conduct hearing.

"The serious allegations that exist off the field, and nothing has been completely finalized on that, with that kind of hanging out there in the climate we're in right now in the National Football League, I think this does have an effect," Jeremiah said. "I think that needs to be completely closed up, to know it's not going to rear its head again. As an organization, this is the quarterback of your team, this is the face of your franchise, and this is a pretty serious issue."

While Winston's off-field character figures to be heavily scrutinized by scouts regardless of when he declares draft eligibility (he could declare as early as 2015), Brooks said Winston's "football character" -- on-field leadership, work ethic, etc. -- appears strong.

"(Football character) was more of a concern with Jadeveon Clowney, but when you look at Jameis Winston, the football character is fine," Jeremiah said. "When he's out on the field, you know what you're going to get from him. A very consistent, dedicated guy. From everything that I hear, he does a nice job of putting in that extra work in the film room as well."

Winston and the top-ranked Seminoles are idle this weekend before a road trip to Louisville next Thursday.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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