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Jameis Winston the Next JaMarcus Russell?

According to some personnel men and scouts around the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are rumored to be considering taking Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston as the first pick in the upcoming NFL draft, may bitterly regret the decision, according to an article by Bob McGinn in The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal.

Likening Winston to former Louisiana State quarterback JaMarcus Russell, whom the Raiders selected with the first pick in 2007, only to see him post a 7-18 record and a passer rating of 65.2 in his three seasons in the NFL, one executive said bluntly:

With Jameis Winston I see JaMarcus Russell. They do dumb things. Isn’t it interesting? Lack of focus by JaMarcus is what I see in Winston. They’re physically talented, but during the course of a game they kind of lose their focus and just put the ball up for grabs. I see the body. I see the lack of focus. I see the same coach and system. Only Winston’s not as good an athlete and his arm isn’t as strong as JaMarcus’.

Both Winston and Russell were tutored by Jimbo Fisher, who served as head coach during Winston’s tenure and quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator while Russell played at Louisiana State. Former Packers backup Matt Flynn proved to be the most successful quarterback who has played for Fisher, among the group including Rohan Davey in New England, Christian Ponder in Minnesota, and E.J. Manuel in Buffalo.

Winston and Russell boast size; Winston stands 6’4”, 231 pounds, and Russell 6’ 5½”, 258 pounds.

Another NFL personnel man opined:

We’re looking at another guy (Winston) that’s a product of the system and has tremendous athletes around him. Oh, my goodness. Is this guy really going to be the first pick of the draft? You’d be drafting a quarterback that can’t run, has off-field problems, has no power in his legs and makes bad decisions on the field. Somebody’s going to make a horrible mistake.

When scouts were asked to rate Winston and Marcus Mariota, the consensus ruled that neither would become an all-time great. Winston was considered athletic, with a terrific work ethic and poise on the field; Winston’s general attitude elicited some criticism, even beyond his off-the-field exploits. On personnel director, observing Winston at pro day March 31, noted that when Winston introduced his 17 teammates, his egocentrism clearly manifested itself. He said, “People were saying, ‘Oh, he’s a leader. But it was more of a, ‘Hey-look-at-me-kind-of-thing,’ as opposed to something good for his teammates. I just don’t like his whole makeup, his whole salesman act. He’s all about himself.”

Another scout pointed out, “He’s got that same smile that JaMarcus had. They light the room up. That’s what Jameis seems to be doing.”

One dissenter argued that Winston would justify Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith’s selection of him, saying, “He doesn’t have all-time great talent, but he’s just clutch. He’s pro ready. It’s clear-cut to me Winston’s the best quarterback in this draft, talent-wise.”

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