As an NFL prospect, Jameis Winston checks a lot of boxes. He is 6 feet 4 inches and 230 pounds, has a strong arm, played in a pro-style system and produced on the field, and his team won.
His freshman season was one of the best in college football history. He set the FBS record for passing touchdowns (40) by a freshman and became the third quarterback since 1950 to win the Heisman and lead his team to an undefeated national championship. The others were Cam Newton and Matt Leinart.
Winston is now taking his talents to the NFL.
"Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden will meet with Winston and four other quarterbacks during the sixth season of "Gruden's QB Camp," which makes its debut Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
To prepare you for the show, we break down Winston's greatest strength, his rise in interceptions in his final season and a cause for concern.
Greatest strength: Winner
Winston was 26-1 as a starter at Florida State. He won his first 26 starts with the Seminoles, the longest win streak to start a career in the 21st century.
He played his best football when his team needed him the most. His Total QBR in the first half last season was 54.0. After halftime, it was 74.6, including 84.3 when Florida State was trailing, which was fifth-best in the FBS.
Area of focus: Too many interceptions
Winston threw 18 interceptions last season; only New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers, with 23, had more. Fifteen of Winston’s 18 interceptions came on passes thrown 10 yards or longer. His 15 such interceptions were three more than any other Power 5 quarterback.
During his freshman season, Winston excelled throwing downfield. He led all Power 5 players in yards and touchdowns on passes thrown 10 yards or longer. However, 54 percent of his completions and 65 percent of his touchdowns on such passes went to Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, who did not return to the Seminoles in 2014.
The question for NFL evaluators is whether those 18 interceptions resulted from poor throws or decisions by Winston or if they were attributable to inexperienced players around him. Winston’s coach, Jimbo Fisher, thinks they were more the latter.
In a recent interview with the NFL Network, Fisher explained, "This year, some of it, he forced the ball. Some of it was not all him. It was young linemen in the middle missing blocks, having to get rid of the ball early, or young receivers ... they had to grow. He was playing chess, and they were playing checkers."
The good news for Winston is that college interceptions do not necessarily portend NFL failure. Since 1980, there have been 75 quarterbacks from FBS schools selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The two players who threw more interceptions than Winston in their final college season - Dan Marino (23 interceptions) and Matt Ryan (19 interception) – both went on to successful NFL careers.
Largest concern: Decision making off the field
Winston’s off-field problems have been well-documented. He faced potential felony charges after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in December 2012. In 2014, he walked out of a supermarket without paying for $32 worth of shellfish and was issued a civil citation and suspended from the baseball team until he completed 20 hours of community service. Then, in September, he was suspended for the Seminoles’ game against ACC rival Clemson for shouting a profane, sexually explicit phrase in the Florida State student union.
The saying is, “The best ability is availability.” If Winston is not available to play, it will not matter how much ability he has.
Garrett Grayson, Colorado State Rams