NFL Combine Update – Jameis Winston

Don’t have time to follow all the NFL Combine information regarding Jameis Winston?  No worries, let Football Garbage Time compile it all for you!

Off-Field Concerns

As we all know, NFL pundits trust Jameis Winston to adapt better to the NFL system since he played in a pro-style offense at Florida State.  And right now, he’s the favorite to be picked first overall by Tampa Bay (though, as I’ve said previously, I think they should be taking Mariota).  In fact, when asked about his off-field issues, Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith stated:

“He went through the school justice system. He was cleared.  He went through our court system and he was cleared. Exonerated. What else can you do?  You look at the history of our league and there’s been some good players that have been accused of things and they’re playing right now. … Yeah, we’re okay with where (Winston) is.”

Looks like Smith is definitely on the band wagon, at least with respect to his off-field issues. In fact, it appears that most coaches are, as with respect to interviews, Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Report notes that Winston is doing well:

Physical Concerns

But during the health checks at the Combine, signs of weakness in Winston’s throwing shoulder surfaced.  Since Winston also pitched while in college, there was concern that he developed an injury from pitching, which is incredibly common.  ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Winston underwent an “electromyography” to analyze the cells in his shoulder and that this sort of issue “often” treatable through therapy.  Regardless, it appears now, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, that Winston “check out fine at the hospital”:

Later, though, an anonymous scout told NESN that the shoulder may not be a short term concern, but is a long term concern.  Of course, sports fans are well aware of situations like this with pitchers, like Masahiro Tanaka.  Tanaka had partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which usually results in the infamous Tommy John Surgery.  But Tanaka avoided surgery and is considered a ticking time bomb now in New York.  Of course, Winston does not have an elbow injury, and “weakness” in the throwing shoulder is not nearly as serious as a ligament tear, so let’s not get crazy, but it is something to keep in consideration, especially for someone you’d want to be your franchise quarterback.

The other concern that arose was hand size, as Winston measured at 9 3/8 inches, a bit smaller than is optimal for an NFL quarterback.  As reported by Bill Polian of ESPN:

“The size of Jameis’ hands are a little bit of a concern. … [Winston’s hand size is] not great, below the norm. 9.5 is the norm, 10 is ideal.”

Again, not a huge issue as 9 3/8 is just 1/8 of an inch off the norm, but as noted by some NFL scouts, hand size can impact handling the ball in adverse conditions, like rain or extreme cold (unless of course, the balls are deflated, then hand size probably doesn’t matter as much — sorry, couldn’t help myself).  Compared to Mariota’s 9 7/8 inches, it’s a consideration, but again, hasn’t adversely effected Winston in his college career, so is unlikely to significantly impact him in the Draft.

AP Photo

AP Photo

Winston checked in at 6’ 3 6/8″ and 231 pounds, which is a slight concern.  He’s lost 17 pounds since FSU’s playoff game, which may indicate that Winston has a weight issue (losing that much weight in a short time is usually not a good sign as it indicates that it may also come back just as quickly).  However, this is merely speculation, and since the height and weight in a vacuum is not out of the ordinary (for reference, Mariota had the exact same height, and a similar weight of 222 pounds), it shouldn’t significantly impact his draft prospects.  And besides, perhaps Winston just wanted to look good for the Combine.  He did state at his news conference:

“A lot of people thought I was fat but I look good and I know it!”

40 Yard Dash

Winston ran the 40 yard dash on Saturday and ended up with a 4.97 on the first try and a 4.99 on the second try.  He actually had a little burst on the first attempt, but looked slow in the second attempt, particularly when shown side by side with Mariota (who achieved a 4.52 and 4.56 in his two attempts).  Check out the side by side below, Mariota blows him away:

Of all the current elite quarterbacks, only Tom Brady ran a slower 40 (5.28).  Even Peyton Manning was faster with a 4.8, and we all know that if Manning is scrambling, the offense is in real trouble.  Looks like Winston will have to dissect defenses from the pocket.  As for Mariota, the comps are Russell Wilson (4.55) and Cam Newton (4.56).  Not too shabby.

Passing Drills

Quarterbacks started with speed out left routes and across the middle.  With respect to Winston, after throwing across the middle, there was this comment by Kurt Warner:

On deep go routes, you want the ball to be a little early to push the receiver in stride.  Winston’s early attempts required the receivers to slow up, but later attempts were spot on in stride, drawing this comment from Mike Mayock of the NFL Network:

The quarterbacks had significantly more issues throwing speed out right routes.  Winston had no problems with all speed out right attempts.  One pass attempt was dropped, but was spot on.

With curl routes, Winston was a little high, but still hit receivers.  With corner routes, receivers had to slow up significantly.  Probably his least impressive attempts.

All in all, in my opinion, Winston did not hurt his draft stock with passing drills, and, in fact, confirmed his pro-style system readiness.

Winston added a 28.5 inch vertical and a 103.0 inch broad jump, ultimately grading out at a 6.52, tops among quarterbacks at the Combine (Mariota ended up second with a 6.3).  Interestingly, according to NFL.com, the comp for Winston post-Combine is Eli Manning.  Sounds relatively solid, but certainly not a homerun.

It’s not the end of the evaluation yet, as the FSU Pro Day is next for Winston, and although there’s significant discussion regarding whether the Combine is an actual indicator of NFL potential, what’s for sure is that being the odds on favorite to be drafted first overall, Winston can only be hurt from his Combine and Pro Day results.  So far, other than a potential medical issue that appears to be cleared, his draft stock has not changed.

Of course, that’s not how Winston saw it:

Ah, Winston.  Some things will never change.  See you all at the FSU Pro Day!

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

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