Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has been the hottest name in college football this season, and next year he may be the hottest commodity in the 2015 NFL draft.
According to one NFL scout, however, if Winston were eligible, he would be in higher demand than any quarterback in the 2014 draft.
An anonymous NFL scout told Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel that Winston would probably be the first overall pick this season, potentially ahead of names like Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel, if he were eligible heading into his sophomore season (h/t Mike Huguenin, NFL.com).
Scouts aren't allowed to publicly comment on players who aren't yet eligible for the draft, but one scout anonymously broke down what makes Winston so special to Bianchi:
Rarely do you see a quarterback at Winston's age who has the combination of size, speed, arm strength and field awareness that he has. He's a bigger, stronger, faster version of (Louisville's) Teddy Bridgewater.
The scout was spot on in comparing Winston to Bridgewater, who is likely to be taken in the top five of this year's draft. Bridgewater is a bit on the light side at 6'3" and 196 pounds. Winston, at 6'4" and 228 pounds, has the ideal size that will make him the more durable option at the next level.
Jameis Winston is gonna be a star in the NFL. Respect the way he handles himself and the way he speaks #HumbleDude— Hov (@TwitGamePropa23) October 30, 2013
"Leaders are born, not made."- Jameis Winston This kids gonna be a stud in the NFL— Ricky Coleman (@Slickkk_Rickk) October 30, 2013
Winston also has the pass-first mentality that is optimal for NFL quarterbacks. He has thrown for nearly 2,200 yards, averaging 311 yards per game, with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions this season to go with a completion rate just shy of 70 percent. The Bessemer, Ala., native can also run well when he sees fit, as he has netted 126 yards and three scores on 44 carries.
Looking at what he has done in his first year on the field at the collegiate level, it's no wonder why scouts are already drooling over "Famous Jameis." The same scout told Bianchi that any team in need of a quarterback would "absolutely move up" to draft Winston.
For now, Winston is busy leading Florida State toward a potential BCS national championship berth while playing himself onto the short list for the Heisman Trophy.
If Winston keeps up his strong play, it might even set the unlikely stage for NFL teams to tank their 2014 seasons in an effort to earn that No. 1 overall pick in 2015.
Jameis Winston could make 2015's #1 overall pick the most valuable since Luck last year. Lousy NFL teams, start your 2-year tanking!— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) October 26, 2013
The NBA faces a similar issue this year, according to Jeff Goodman of ESPN The Magazine, with Kansas star freshman Andrew Wiggins, who many believe will be pro basketball's next superstar.
Wiggins will only have to endure a few more months of NBA talk before he can move on to the next level. Meanwhile, Winston will be hearing NFL rumors and projections about him for the next 18 months.