Fool Mike Mayock once, shame on him.
"I have to put my hand up and say I missed that last year with Manziel, and I'm upset with myself," Mayock said Thursday on a media teleconference.
Manziel saw limited playing time in his rookie season in Cleveland, played poorly during it, and was admitted into a rehab facility during the offseason, from which he was recently released. Winston is the presumptive No. 1 overall pick of next week's NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a Heisman Trophy-winning talent whose off-field behavior has earned him as much scrutiny as any draft prospect in recent memory. Mayock moved Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, a Heisman winner himself, to the top of his quarterback rankings earlier this month -- ahead of Winston.
"I've got (Marcus) Mariota one, because I believe in Mariota, but the other piece of that is, with Jameis Winston I've got trust issues both on and off the field. Do I trust him with the football on the field, given the way he turned the ball over, especially this year with 18 interceptions? It could have been 40 very easily," Mayock said. "Can I trust him with the ball, which is the most important thing during an NFL game. And two, can I trust him off the field? To me, those red flags are significant enough that my answer is, I would go the other way with Mariota."
The Tennessee Titans at No. 2 and the New York Jets at No. 6 are strong possibilities for Mariota. Mayock believes the Jets should be thrilled to take the former Ducks star if he is still available. Mariota's lack of experience in a pro-style offense is perceived by scouts to create a much more steep learning curve for his NFL career than that of Winston. Mariota's character is unquestioned, however, and Mayock suggested that, in general, players with character issues prior to the draft don't generally change their stripes as pros.
"When kids have significant red flags, how often do they change? My perception and my experience is, plus or minus, 90 percent of the time, a kid ultimately turns into who he's always been," Mayock added. "When you get a repeated pattern of bad decisions, you might be on your best behavior leading up to the draft, you've got all kinds of people around you telling you what to say and how to act. But once you get comfortable, whether it's one year in, two years in, three years in, once you get comfortable again in the NFL and you get paid, typically that kid goes back to being who he always was."
Off-field concerns about Winston center around an allegation of a sexual assault from 2012, although Winston was neither legally charged in the matter, nor found to be in violation of the FSU student code of conduct. He was also suspended for FSU's game against Clemson for shouting an obscenity at the FSU student union, and was given a civil citation for shoplifting seafood from a Publix grocery store in Tallahassee. Winston has said the seafood was given to him by a store employee.