Ever since Bill Belichick was handed the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been on the clock. After being the last remaining winless team in 2013, the Buccaneers finished a league-worst 2-14 in 2014.
A number of mock drafts have been published and many of them have Tampa Bay taking Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, a former Heisman Trophy winner, with the first overall pick. While Winston has been as infamous for off-the-field issues as he has been accomplished on it, the 21-year-old Winston may be the Buccaneers’ best option and here are five reasons why:
1. QB is a Need for Tampa Bay
As if it weren’t already, Tampa Bay cutting Josh McCown on Wednesday makes the quarterback position one the Buccaneers need to address prior to the start of the 2015 season. Third-year man Mike Glennon is the only quarterback remaining on the Tampa Bay roster and Glennon is just 5-13 in his career as a starter.
2. Winston is the Most NFL-Ready QB in the Draft
There certainly could be a debate as to which quarterback from this year’s draft will have the best NFL future, but as far as being NFL-ready is concerned, Jameis Winston is the clear-cut choice. Winston played in a pro-style offense at Florida State and actually reads defenses fairly well. Winston has plenty of arm to make all the throws on the next level and with protection, is pinpoint accurate as he complete over 66 percent of his passes as a collegiate.
3. Winston is Clutch
In 2014, 108 or 42 percent of the NFL’s 256 regular season games were decided by a single score, putting many quarterbacks in high-pressure situations. That’s a situation Winston thrived in over his final 14 games as a Seminole, leading Florida State from down at halftime five times and engineering five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. His most memorable comeback came in the BCS title game at the end of the 2013 season as Winston rallied Florida State from a 21-3 deficit against Auburn. Winston threw the winning touchdown with 13 seconds left to deliver FSU its first national championship in 14 years.
4. Good for Ticket Sales
Winston hails from a university located in the same state as Tampa and with an undergraduate enrollment of over 30,000. Florida State fans and graduates are spread throughout the state with many residing in the greater Tampa area. Having the quarterback who helped return their school to national prominence playing football games on Sundays in their backyard could lead to a significant spike in ticket sales for a team that ranked just 28th in attendance this past season.
5. Mental Toughness
Say what you will about Winston’s off-the-field troubles, but the former Florida State quarterback has always been seen as a leader by his teammates and a player others rallied around. Despite spending virtually the entire 2014 season under the microscope, Winston led Florida State to a perfect regular season, an ACC championship and an appearance in college football’s first playoff. Winston had his share of turnovers compared to the previous season, but was always able to be resilient enough to bounce back and come through with the game on the line.