Jameis Winston has a lot of work to do this summer.
Like it or not, it's never too early to have a conversation about NFL draft stock. For the Florida State signal-caller, the last 10 months or so have been a tumultuous affair of the public perception variety, to say the least.
Winston's character has a major black eye at the moment. The latest issue, where he was caught on camera leaving a store with crab legs and being hit with 20 hours of community service and suspended from the baseball team, actually overshadows other past issues.
The sophomore two-sport star can call the incident a "moment of youthful ignorance" all he wants, but it's the latest in a pattern of alleged behavior that will raise many an eyebrow at the pro level.
Bleacher Report's Ray Glier summed up the recent trend in an apt manner:
But while he did lead FSU to a national championship in 2013 and claimed the Heisman Trophy, Winston and other FSU players were questioned by police in November 2012 after 13 windows were broken at an apartment complex near Doak Campbell Stadium after an apparent BB gun battle. Earlier, in July of that same year, a Burger King employee called police to complain that Winston was stealing soda. He was not charged in either incident.
Glier's excellent column also touches on the dismissed rape charge, so observers get the idea—Winston is a young student athlete in need of guidance.
What Winston seems to inherently not understand about being a public figure is that he is held to a higher standard. The NFL is blind in the face of talent to a fault, but poke the bear too much and bad things can happen to a prospect's stock.
As an NFL scout and front-office executive told B/R's Mike Freeman, there has been some notable damage done that Winston must recover from quickly:
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.'
It's not too late for Winston to clean up his act. Perhaps being suspended from the baseball team was a necessary coming-of-age moment.
The NFL knows about Winston's immense talent, but there are flaws in his game. One AFC scout told ESPN's Jeffri Chadiha that "his lower-body mechanics are below average, and he doesn't really step into his throws. He's also not a great athlete when you're talking about speed and agility, so the read-option isn't a possibility with him."
Winston is not a lock to be the top quarterback by the time the 2015 draft rolls around. That's on a strictly football basis. Ask Teddy Bridgewater. Names such as Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley and Bryce Petty are first-round caliber and may overtake Winston.
Now add in the fact Winston has been unreliable to date. As it stands, he cannot be trusted by pro teams. Repeat mishaps suggests Winston isn't learning from his behavior, which will cause a dip on draft day. At the bare minimum, he should not be putting himself in any situation that can get allegations thrown his way.
Winston is lucky so much time remains before next year's draft, should he choose to enter. In that time span, a streak of silence off the field will do him wonders. Another pitfall will only make the crescendo of negativity around his name and pro stock further nosedive.
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