The story of this draft may not be Johnny Manziel. Or Jadeveon Clowney. Or whom the Houston Texans will select with the first pick. Or even Mel Kiper's hair.
The story of this draft could instead be a man who was just cited for stealing crab legs from a grocery store, who is more talented than almost any quarterback who will get picked this week, but whose stock is falling rapidly. That man is Jameis Winston.
Winston is incredibly gifted. He will play one more season at Florida State, and it's possible he gets even better. Despite being accused of sexual assault, followed by some questionable investigating by the Tallahassee Police Department—not exactly Scotland Yard—he still had a great chance to be the first overall pick in next year's draft.
Then came the Great Crab Legs Caper. Winston was given a citation for busting out of Publix with some delicious crab meat. Hope it was worth it. Hope he got some Dijon mustard to go with them as well, because when you listen to NFL personnel men—and I queried some in the immediate aftermath of the incident—Winston's draft stock is incinerating right before our eyes.
This from an NFL scout: "When I heard about this, I was stunned. He was the top overall pick next year. Was. Not anymore. This latest thing shows a continuation of bad judgment. I don't trust him, and I can tell you very few teams in the NFL will trust him."
This from a front-office executive: "He's on his way to falling out of the first round."
This from another scout: "We're talent whores. But we're not total whores. It's almost impossible, at this point, to trust Winston."
This from former Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell, who tweeted: Incredibly dumb move by Jameis. Sooner or sooner u need to realize you are held to a diff standard than most. As QB, as Heisman, as teammate"
He added: "As a Heisman and national champ QB you don't get to make "immature" mistakes. You have to rise above. Better learn quick…Again, Winston needs to be hyper aware of the consequences of every action. No matter how big/small those actions are."
There is something to the fact that college athletes, incredibly, don't have enough to eat. Yet with Winston, he has lost the benefit of the doubt. This isn't about hunger. This is about arrogance and entitlement.
Said Bleacher Report draft expert Matt Miller: "Jameis Winston may want to check and see if Major League Baseball scouts are willing to look the other way on character concerns, because NFL teams will not. Winston, whether he ever sees an arrest or a trial, now has two high-profile off-field issues in his belt. Consider the vitriol with which anonymous scouts have bagged Johnny Manziel for his off-field lifestyle—and he's never been associated with anything close to this.
"Winston's off-field transgressions will only magnify the fact that he's not a very polished quarterback. His long, slow release must be sped up to survive in the NFL, and when you look at the amazing talent around him at Florida State, you have to wonder how well he translates to a pro-style offense. The bad news for Winston is that the off-field issues could force him out of college sooner rather than later—and this is a player that cannot afford to lose any time developing his skills."
And, finally, one last scout: "This reeks of entitlement. Nothing more."
I do not know if Winston is entitled. I don't know if he's a bad guy. I don't know if he's a rapist. I just know a line has been crossed. One where Winston was considered troubled but not damaged, to where we are now—so damaged teams are extremely wary. They are, for the moment, running from Winston.
It may sound strange to say that stealing crab meat is a tipping point for a player who has been accused of, you know, sexual assault. But NFL teams are notorious excuse-makers. The feeling among some NFL front offices was that in the alleged rape case, he wasn't convicted, or didn't plead to a crime.
Now what NFL teams are seeing is a player where the list of negatives is growing rapidly. They are seeing the alleged rape case more as Winston being lucky due to police incompetence than actual innocence.
So here we are, a week before the draft, and the most talked-about big name isn't one of the usual guys. It's Winston. Whose reputation isn't just damaged. It's beginning to look crippled.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.