Whitfield: Jameis Winston shadowed by NFL teams on flights

All accounts from Jameis Winston's interviews with NFL teams have suggested the former Florida State quarterback has handled himself well when asked about the character issues that have red-flagged his evaluation as an NFL draft prospect.

But the things Winston has done when he thought nobody was watching him has been part of the vetting process as well, according to Winston's private quarterback coach, George Whitfield.

Whitfield told Yahoo! Sports that Winston's flight schedule surrounding the NFL Scouting Combine in February included a gumshoe passenger or two from NFL clubs in an effort to keep a silent eye on the former Heisman Trophy winner.

"They've staged people," Whitfield said. "Yeah, there are teams that have staged people on different flights he had, just to kind of be in the midst -- a fly on the wall. No (Winston wasn't aware), but I had a team official tell me that. They were aware of another team that said they wanted to do that."

Considered the likely No. 1 overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a prospect of Winston's profile can expect a level of scrutiny that is not just thorough, but unpredictable. Presumably, Winston didn't mistreat any flight attendants, carry an oversized bag or leave his complementary peanut package stuffed in the seat pocket.

Of course, we don't know if it was the Bucs who put someone on Winston's travel schedule, but one would reasonably assume it was a team with a significant interest in picking the draft's top-rated quarterback.

Whitfield indicated there is no end to the ways teams have gone about digging into Winston's background.



"[They've used] private eyes. I know people have interviewed his elementary school teachers, bus drivers, team bus drivers, people that gave him rides at the Heisman ceremony," he said. "Pilots. ... Local restaurants. The lady at the Florida State cafeteria. All that stuff. And hey, if that's what they feel they need to do to ensure themselves so come draft day they can get up on the table for him, then that's what you've got to do."

First-round draft investments are no joke. Neither are the lengths to which teams will go to learn as much as possible about the player on the receiving end of that investment.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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