Don't compare Jameis Winston to JaMarcus Russell

TAMPA, Fla. -- There's a story out there that’s getting a lot of attention because it compares Jameis Winston to JaMarcus Russell, one of the biggest draft flops ever.

The story comes from Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. It contains anonymous quotes from personnel men that put Winston in a very unflattering light. The personnel men see him as very similar to Russell, who was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2007 and failed miserably.

"With Jameis Winston I see JaMarcus Russell," one personnel man said.

Ouch. That’s about the worst thing you can say about a quarterback prospect. But there is more.

"Is this guy really going to be the first pick of the draft?’’ another personnel man said. “You'd be drafting a quarterback that can't run, has off-field problems, has no power in his legs and makes bad decisions on the field. Somebody's going to make a horrible mistake."

The Bucs are poised to take Winston with the No. 1 overall pick. But I don’t think the comparisons to Russell are fair or accurate. They’re not the same guy.

Winston had a much more productive college career than Russell, whose draft position was dictated by athletic ability that was off the charts. It’s true that Winston isn’t nearly as good an athlete as Russell, but the Bucs already know that and don’t seem scared.

Winston isn’t much of a runner. But Tampa Bay’s offense doesn’t require the quarterback to do much running. Winston does make some bad decisions on the field, as evidenced by his 18 interceptions last year. But Florida State’s coaches have said more than half those interceptions weren’t Winston’s fault.

The mention of off-field issues is a concern. Winston’s off-field issues have been well documented. But the Bucs seem convinced he might be a little immature but isn’t a bad person. The questions about Russell were about his work ethic and dedication to football. No one ever has questioned those things about Winston.

Russell and Winston are two very different quarterbacks with different personalities. They shouldn’t be compared.