Jameis Winston is in the news again. Unfortunately for him, the only person being helped by this new incident involving Jameis Winston is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. He’s got all the talent, he’s got all the charisma, but if he’s not careful, Jameis Winston is not going to be the first pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.
First it was the broken windows. Then we of course had the well-documented sexual assault mess that he was involved in. Now shoplifting. Jameis Winston, I have to ask: what are you doing? If you’re the Heisman Trophy winning Florida State quarterback, you have to know that you are the top NFL QB prospect entering this season, and you have millions and millions waiting for you. You love baseball and continue to play for FSU. Why would you go and shoplift? The “I forgot to pay” line isn’t going to cut it. You have to be smarter than to shoplift $32 worth of crab legs from a Publix. You’re a celebrity now, a national celebrity and superstar athlete, you can’t be pulling stupid stuff like this.
But who does this affect? Winston got a citation, big deal. The FSU baseball team loses him for a few games, they can manage. He’ll be playing for the football team this year, he’ll still light it up. The one person who is going to be affect the most and benefit the most from this is nearly 2,800 miles away in Eugene, OR, and that is University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Had Mariota entered the draft this year, the argument could have been made for him to be a first round pick. Next year he is expected to be in the top three eligible quarterbacks (the third being Brett Hundley of UCLA, and while I am a huge Hundley fan, the other two are still viewed as potential higher draft picks currently). We all know Jameis Winston is a great quarterback, and while Mariota may be right up there with him, Winston is definitely the top choice right now. But how much more of these antics can the league take? Winston has now had multiple run-ins with the law of varying degrees (and one botched investigation as well), whereas Mariota is in the clear in that regard thus far. If this season ends and the two of them are neck and neck, who’s to say Mariota doesn’t pass Winston based on character and past issues alone?
It may not matter. Winston is a great talent and a great prospect. But you can only screw up so many times before people have to think that you may be a character risk. Jameis Winston’s game isn’t an unknown quantity, his off-field behavior is. If he slips up again, whether it be some petty shoplifting or something more serious, Marcus Mariota can only benefit from it (this is assuming that on-field play remains consistent for both). Right now, Jameis Winston is setting himself up to be the top pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. But if we see any more incidents like we have seen with the shoplifting case, he may vacate that spot, and Marcus Mariota will be right there to step in.