It is starting to look more and more like Jameis Winston is going to be the top pick of the NFL Draft and the biggest reason is because Winston is viewed as “NFL ready” and has already mastered the two toughest factors in moving from college to the NFL.
Winston has spent the last four weeks with quarterback guru George Whitfield training for the upcoming NFL combine and draft. Whitfield talked about Winston in a recent interview with Peter King of theMMQB.com.
Whitfield, who has worked with Andrew Luck, Ben Roethliseberger, and Philip Rivers among others, explains that Winston is not the greatest athlete and doesn’t have the strongest arm, but that he does have the two most important traits all NFL quarterbacks have to have.
The first is “great pocket awareness.” That is, Winston is able to adjust and look for other options when the main target is not open, and he knows how long he has to do that before he is at risk for being sacked. Winston’s pocket presence is so good that Whitfield calls the Heisman Trophy winner “a savant.”
Whitfield also explains that Winston is NFL-ready in large part because the system at Florida State trained him to master the other important trait for NFL quarterbacks, reading defenses.
During their training together, Whitfield exposed Winston to NFL-type defenses designed to confuse a quarterback and Winston handled it very well. “Florida State had a 400-level NFL curriculum,” said Whitfield, “It was very hard for us to confuse him out there.”
In other words, Winston is NFL ready and has already shown the ability to do the two things that cause many highly-touted college quarterbacks to fail in the NFL, handle pressure and read defenses.
This is also the biggest knock against Marcus Mariota which shows just how much NFL teams value these traits.
Mariota was long-considered the best prospect in the draft before starting to slip in large part because teams just don’t know how he will handle complex NFL defenses. In college, Mariota rarely faced pressure in Oregon’s uptempo offence, an offence that was so efficient Mariota rarely needed to adjust to defenses.
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer recently called Mariota “a phenomenal talent” but said that he is not NFL ready and “not ready to play in a traditional system.”
In other words, Mariota is an investment that could pay off down the road. But Winston, is closer to being a can’t-miss prospect because he has already mastered some of the most difficult requirements for being an NFL quarterback.
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