Vaughn McClure, Atlanta Falcons: If he remains focused and picks up coordinator Dirk Koetter's complex offense quickly, then the answer is yes. But I've been told Winston struggled at the start of his transition to the NFL. The Buccaneers have no questions about his ability to throw the deep ball, but Winston has to be able to make all the throws to enjoy immediate success. One thing that has helped his cause, at least initially, is the positive attitude he brought to the team. And during the draft process, numerous teams raved about his football intelligence. Winston has a talented receiving corps, led by Mike Evans, but will he get solid protection from the line? He has all the talent to succeed, but it might take Winston some time to adjust. He will make the Bucs competitive in the division in the future, but probably not in 2015.
David Newton, Carolina Panthers: Will he make Tampa Bay better? He can't help but do that. Josh McCown was 28th in total quarterback ranking (35.7) among the 30 who qualified in 2014, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Only Geno Smith of the Jets and Jacksonville's Blake Bortles were worse. McCown was 1-10 as the starter. He had 11 touchdown passes in 11 starts. Again, it's hard to imagine Winston being worse. That Winston inherits two 1,000-yard receivers, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, will help make his transition into the NFL easier. The expectations for the first pick of the draft, while high, will be tempered. Or should be. So the pressure won't be there. Winston will come in with a winning attitude. That also should help. But can he make the Bucs competitive in the division? No. They weren't 2-14 because they were one missing piece way.
Mike Triplett, New Orleans Saints: Yes. But then again, I picked the Bucs to finish second in the division last year because they added QB Josh McCown, and that didn't pan out. I just can't help but think this team is something of a sleeping giant because it has so much talent at certain spots, with elite defensive players such as Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David and receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. I expect Winston to go through a learning curve and battle some inconsistency -- especially behind a shaky offensive line that will be counting on two second-round draft picks. But I think Winston is talented and polished enough to at least catch fire a few times. I don't think his head will be swimming too much, especially coming from a pro-style offense at a big-time program like Florida State. I don't expect the Bucs to contend for the NFC South title this year -- but they could certainly play spoiler.