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Jameis Winston's off-field questions obscure his on-field talent

For all his off-field questions, Jameis Winston's on-field talent is undeniable. But is that enough to be a top NFL draft pick?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Bedard of the MMQB took a dive into Jameis Winston's game tape and came to one conclusion: he's a very good quarterback, with off-field concerns.

There's a lot of stuff in there -- about Winston's pro-readiness, his ability to recognize blitzes and coverages, to play in a pro-style system. How advanced he is as a quarterback. You should really read all of it, because it's an enlightening story. But this is the core point Bedard makes.

If Winston's NFL evaluation were just about what's on film, he'd be the no-doubt No. 1 pick-especially because, given his sloppy footwork and mechanics, he hasn't come close to his ceiling yet. But it's never just about talent when it comes to the NFL. And with Winston, that's especially true. You'd be hard-pressed to recall a quarterback prospect who makes such brilliant choices on the field and such poor ones off it.

I am a little more concerned with his mechanical issues, mostly because those kinds of things have proven to be very hard to fix for NFL coaches. They won't break his career, but that doesn't mean they aren't problems. But his on-field talent isn't really in question -- his off-field behavior is the main reason why he's not a consensus number one pick right now.

For Winston, the next months will be crucial. Not because of what he can show teams on the field, but in what he can show teams about his off-field demeanor. Can he convince them that his previous issues were just immaturity and that he's grown past it, or at least that he will? That there really is nothing to worry about? And, most importantly, that the rape accusation was false?

"On the field there's something special there," an AFC general manager told Bedard. "The problem is, can you ever trust him? Are you going to be able to sleep at night? That's a rough deal with a quarterback."

It only takes one team to draft Winston, of course, and NFL teams will do everything they can to find out whether they can afford the risk, and whether Winston is trustworthy. The Bucs, Titans and other teams have almost certainly already started the process of digging into his background, every incident, every minor blip and figuring out just what's going on with him.

But it's clear that, flaws notwithstanding, if we were going by just his on-field talent, Jameis Winston would be a very high pick indeed.