The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 100-1 to win Super Bowl 50. Those football odds aren’t going to get any shorter after Tampa Bay’s projected first-overall pick needed medical tests at the NFL Combine.
We’ll admit it: Picking on Jameis Winston has been far too easy for us. Nobody here at the home office has ever met the guy. And it’s not like we’re all angels here. Some of us even shoplifted a few things when we were kids. Comic books, candy, assault rifles – okay, maybe not assault rifles. Point being, there’s already enough finger-wagging out there in the sports media. It’s even less relevant when you’re dealing with the NFL odds.
That doesn’t mean we’d take Winston first overall at this year’s NFL Draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the other hand, seem intent on doing just that. If you’re willing to look past his character issues (this is the NFL, after all), Winston brings a lot to the table. He’s big, strong, he’s a great pocket passer with a fantastic arm…
You’ve Got Some Nerve
We might have to re-think that. Winston was expected to do some throwing this past Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but those plans were scuttled because of some “weakness” in his throwing shoulder. Reports on Friday confirmed that the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner went to a hospital to have his shoulder checked out. And the results might be troubling enough to make the Buccaneers reconsider their options – emphasis on might.
The weakness is question appears to be related to a nerve in Winston’s right shoulder. It’s not an uncommon problem for athletes; according to Dr. James Andrews, it happens quite often with baseball pitchers in particular. Winston was a relief pitcher as well as a quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles.
Again, we don’t want to be too alarmist about this. But if you’ve done any betting on baseball, or you’re simply a fan of the sport, there should be some bells ringing in the back of your head anytime a pitcher experiences arm trouble – especially the shoulder or the elbow. And those bells should be ringing just a little bit louder after Winston’s QB coach, George Whitfield Jr., told reporters that he was unaware of any shoulder issues prior to the Combine.
As we go to press, Winston is expected to throw Saturday at the Combine, so we’ll see how that develops. But it’s not just his shoulder that people are worried about. Last week, a photo of Winston circulated on Twitter that showed him looking rather pudgy. Whitfield said the photo was five weeks old, and that Winston had already lost “12-15 pounds” since then. Whitfield also told Peter King at Sports Illustrated that Winston had been working on his strength after playing through a high-ankle sprain last season.
Then you have those aforementioned character issues. On Thursday, Christine Brennan at USA Today reported that Winston should already have “one strike” against him when it comes to the NFL’s new personal conduct policy. If the league were to agree, that would mean that Winston’s next violation would result in a harsher punishment than the six games that first-time offenders are now subject to.
Mistakes Were Made
Winston spoke to the press at the Combine and admitted that his conduct hasn’t been up to snuff. “I want to let y’all know I know I made mistakes,” Winston told reporters. “I know I have a past. But, right now, it’s about me moving forward and earning the trust of all these 32 teams out there.”
Unfortunately, we might never know the true extent of Winston’s past, thanks in large part to the Tallahassee police force and Florida State University. But even if all these concerns aren’t enough to prevent Tampa Bay from making Winston their No. 1 pick, that doesn’t mean we have to make the Buccaneers one of our NFL picks in 2015.