Ready or not, Jameis Winston is Bucs' starter

TAMPA, Fla. -- On the final day of organized team activities, Jameis Winston didn't exactly look like a polished NFL quarterback.

He threw several interceptions on a day when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense dominated the offense. There were moments when backups Mike Glennon and Seth Lobato looked better than Winston. And there were moments when Winston looked like a rookie.

That's because he is a rookie.

But guess what? The starting job already belongs to Winston. No official announcement has been made, but he'll be the starter on opening day against Tennessee in September. He'll be the starter at the beginning of training camp. He'll be the starter when minicamp rolls around next week.

The Bucs can make all the noise they want about competition. But the starting quarterback job was decided the moment the Bucs used the first overall draft pick on Winston. Glennon is a nice backup, nothing more and nothing less. Lobato might be practice-squad material.

Winston has the potential to be a superstar, and that's what the Bucs are banking on. For every bad throw Winston made on Thursday, he had a good one. All the signs are there that he can be a good quarterback.

Winston has picked up the playbook faster than anyone expected. Already, he is making some of the right calls at the line of scrimmage to adjust to the coverages he's facing. In the OTA sessions that have been open to the media, Winston has thrown some deep passes with exquisite touch to Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. There have been moments when he has looked good in the short- and medium-range passing games.

But there also have been moments when Winston, who threw 18 interceptions at Florida State last season, has forced the ball to receivers who weren't open. That’s a concern, but it's not a deal-breaker.

This is the time for Winston to make mistakes. He can be imperfect in OTAs, minicamp, training camp and preseason games. There is plenty of time before Winston has to be ready for the real thing. Plenty of time to clean up the mistakes.

But the Bucs are playing Winston with the first team already because they want that growing process to play out quickly. The Bucs drafted Winston to be their franchise quarterback and they're not about to change direction.