Jameis Winston is favored on the NFL betting line to win the 2015 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, but does his bust potential mean we should look elsewhere with our football picks?
Here we go again. The football odds are out for who will win the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, and surprise surprise, the top favorite is this year's No. 1 overall pick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston. As we go to press, most of the sportsbooks on our NFL odds board have Winston pegged at +500; BetOnline has him even chalkier at +450.
Winston's price may be fairly consistent across the board, but not everyone agrees that he's the favorite. The fine folks at The Greek have San Diego Chargers RB Melvin Gordon on top of the football odds at +350. No other book has Gordon any shorter than +600 at press time. The Greek also has Winston tied at +500 with Oakland Raiders WR Amari Cooper and St. Louis Rams RB Todd Gurley. Did somebody say “hold percentage”?
All Your QBASE Are Belong to Us
We've had quite a lot to say about Winston over the past couple of years. Most of it hasn't been very flattering, and when it comes to Winston's chances of making it in the NFL, the stat gurus at Football Outsiders aren't terribly optimistic, either. They give Winston a 61.3-percent chance of becoming a “bust” player, based on their QBASE (QuarterBack-Adjusted Stats and Experience) projection model.
Let's put aside Winston's past and his projected future for the moment. As the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, and as a former Heisman winner and national champion with the Florida State Seminoles, Winston was naturally going to end up carrying way too much chalk on the Offensive ROY props market. He could very well win the award; the Buccaneers have nowhere to go but up, and Winston has the pro-style tools to make an immediate impact. We just don't think Winston makes a very good NFL pick in this situation, and it only gets worse when you factor in the advanced stats and the off-field behavior.
At least Winston's a quarterback, though. There was a time when rookie QBs weren't trusted to do anything besides hold a clipboard; from the inaugural award in 1967 all the way through 2003, only one quarterback was voted the winner, and it was Dennis Shaw of the 1970 Buffalo Bills. Virtually all the ROYs were running backs, with the occasional wideout thrown in for good measure. Tight ends? Offensive linemen? No soup for you.
Then Ben Roethlisberger came along. He won the award with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004, and since then, five other quarterbacks have been named ROY, compared to three running backs and two receivers. It's the new NFL, so Winston does have that going for him. He's also in charge of his own destiny to a greater degree than the other “skill” players, who have to rely on their quarterbacks to give them the ball.
But what about that other Heisman-winner who got drafted this year? Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota is further down the NFL odds list, from as short as +650 at The Greek to as high as +1200 at 5Dimes. This looks like a much better landing spot for our football pick. Mariota has been overshadowed in the marketplace and in the media by Winston; people are concerned that the former Oregon Duck is too spread-happy and won't adjust quickly enough to the NFL game.
They may be right. Then again, Mariota's skills have always been misrepresented, and by all accounts, he's been absolutely impressive in both offseason workouts and the Titans mini-camp, just as he was during the NFL Combine. Mariota is in the pole position to start at quarterback for Tennessee in Week 1, and with a twice the potential payout as Winston, we're adding him to our offseason football picks.
Free NFL Pick: Take Mariota +1200 at 5Dimes