is a Feb. 21, 2015, file photo showing Jameis Winston
at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Winston has spent much of the past two months
crisscrossing the nation, sharpening his quarterback
skills and trying to convince NFL teams he's learned
from mistakes made off the field and ready to become
the face of a franchise.
— Jameis Winston has spent much of the past two months
crisscrossing the nation, sharpening his quarterback skills
and trying to convince NFL teams he's learned from mistakes
made off the field and ready to become the face of a
A lot of
his effort was geared toward the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who
have the first pick this year's NFL draft.
into Winston's pro day at Florida State on Tuesday, by all
accounts the 2013 Heisman winner has made a strong
Bucs' decision-makers, coach Lovie Smith, general manager
Jason Licht, and — maybe even more importantly — the
Glazer family, which owns the team, appear to be comfortable
with Winston's history of off-the-field issues.
realize he has made some mistakes, gotten himself in some
situations he would like to do over, but we don't see
anything that we can't help him with," Smith said
during last week's NFL spring meetings in Phoenix, Arizona.
think that's behind him, and that's why we feel
comfortable," the coach added. "You can't indict
young people for some stupid things that they do. We all
made it a point to show he's capable of doing just that,
despite his checkered past.
He faced a
sexual assault allegation, but was never charged in the
alleged incident. He walked out of a supermarket without
paying for $32 worth of crab legs and suspended three
baseball games, then missed a football game after climbing
on a table in the FSU student union and shouting an
"offensive and vulgar" comment about women.
hasn't shied away from questions about his past.
to being interviewed by Tampa Bay and other teams during the
NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana, the 20-year-old
visited and toured the Bucs headquarters in March, meeting
with Smith, Licht and the three Glazer brothers who run the
also requested — and received — a meeting this month
with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in New York.
quarterback is represented by The Legacy Agency, whose
high-profile football clients include running backs DeMarco
Murray and Reggie Bush.
He has said
he does not plan to attend the draft in Chicago, instead
choosing to stay home in Alabama to enjoy the occasion with
family and friends.
co-chairman Joel Glazer told the Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay
Times during the meetings in Phoenix that — based on
extensive research Tampa Bay has done — the owners would
be comfortable with using the No. 1 pick on either Winston
or 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, the draft's other top
reiterated his belief that Winston's off-field missteps have
been more the result of the quarterback making immature
choices than Winston being a bad kid.
are saying that he's done some things that are not OK, and
we don't feel like in the future he would make those same
type of decisions," the coach said. "You have to
look in the eye and feel comfortable with the answers you're
getting. He's admitted the mistakes he's made, and I'm one
who believes in second chances."
everyone signing off on any character questions, that would
make it simply a football decision.
worked this winter in San Diego, California, with private
quarterbacks tutor George Whitfield, spent time in Ann
Arbor, Michigan, with former San Francisco 49ers and current
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, and also showcased his arm and
athletic ability at the NFL Combine last month.
get their next close-up view Tuesday, when Winston will
throw to some of his college teammates during Florida
State's pro day in Tallahassee, Florida.
to be no debate, however, over Winston's potential. He's a
quarterback who completed 66 percent of his passes for
nearly 8,000 yards and 65 touchdowns in two college seasons.
Bay, which hasn't made the playoffs since 2007, absolutely
needs a quarterback.
coming off a season in which they went 2-14 and ranked 30th
in total offense, haven't had the first overall pick in the
draft since 1987, when they took Vinny Testaverde. He had a
long, successful career that didn't really take off until
after the team gave up on him becoming the franchise QB
they've never had.
26-1 as a starter in college, leading Florida State to a
national championship as a red-shirt freshman and helping
the Seminoles earn a spot in the inaugural College Football
Playoffs last season.
stage for the possible selection of Winston or Mariota, who
also visited One Buc Place this month, Tampa Bay released
incumbent starter Josh McCown with a year left on the
contract he signed as a free agent in 2014.