Reuters –Quarterback Jameis Winston, who posted a 26-1 record in winning a Heisman Trophy and a national championship in two years at Florida State, proved he was just the character wanted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 2-14 Bucs made Winston the first overall pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday, declining trade offers and overlooking some character issues caused by off-field incidents at college.
The strong-armed, 6-foot-4, 230-pound Winston has all the tools for NFL success and was considered the best prepared to step into the professional game after leading the Seminoles to so much success in a pro-style offense.
Some wondered about Winston’s make-up given a sexual assault allegation made against him, a shoplifting citation, and a game suspension for getting up on a table on campus and screaming a sexually charged phrase made popular on the Internet, but Tampa Bay’s background checks convinced them he could be counted on.
Winston skipped the draft proceedings in Chicago to watch on television back home in Bessemer, Alabama, where he happily donned the red Tampa Bay cap of his new team.
“So proud to be @TBBuccaneers,” tweeted Winston, who preferred to celebrate at home surrounded by family and friends than make the trip to Chicago.
Tampa Bay did their due diligence, as Bucs general manager Jason Licht told the Tampa Tribune that the team spoke to some 75 people about Winston and that he “couldn’t feel more confident about the process we have gone through.”
Winston was the first overall number one pick for Tampa Bay since 1987 when the Bucs selected quarterback Vinny Testaverde.