Count one NFL executive among those who think that Jameis Winston, crab legs in his pants be damned, is the top pick in this year's NFL Draft.
Right now, most mock drafts have Marcus Mariota, the Heisman winner and record-setting quarterback at Oregon, as the consensus No. 1 selection in the upcoming NFL Draft. Mariota, after all, enjoyed some big numbers with Oregon and Winston not only has character concerns but also regressed on the field last season at Florida State.
So most mock drafts right now have Mariota being taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first pick and Winston falling somewhere in the next handful of selections. But for one longtime NFL executive, Winston is the better quarterback and the better pick. He says this even with character concerns surrounding Winston.
“He's got plenty of size, he's got a good arm. He can make those tough throws. Whereas Mariota might have five floors of growth left, Winston might have only a floor left to reach his development. He's been born and bred for this,” the executive told Metro.
The executive spoke on the condition of anonymity because he didn't want to be quoted on the record about current draft selections. He works in player personnel and boasts a storied resume in the league.
“To me, if you need a quarterback for today, he'd be the choice. He's lived and not shied away from the spotlight. He throws the ball in tight windows. He's willing to cut the ball loose and fit it in there,” the executive said. “The loud personality might rub people the wrong way. It might not bother you the first few weeks – he might need to dial it back a little bit – but you want him to be himself.
The executive noted that for comparison sake, he sees 2013 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck as "one level away from where Winston currently is."
"[Winston] has been groomed for this," the executive said. "He's the most NFL ready quarterback in this draft."
“He does have an elongated release, I don't know if that is problematic. I have heard that it's a concern, though it's not huge. He tried to do too much this past year. The biggest drawback on him is the off the field.”
And that is where Winston is going to have to answer questions.
He was once investigated for an alleged rape. Then there was the whole stealing incident where he stuffed his pants with crab legs. And he screamed obscenities in the middle of the FSU student union last September, something that registered him a one-game suspension.