Lovie Smith just said he'd be comfortable with Jameis Winston as the face of the franchise, according to ESPN's Pat Yasinskas. Smith was speaking with reporters at the NFL scouting combine.
"He went through the school justice system. He was cleared. He went through our court system and he was cleared. Exonerated. What else can you do," Lovie Smith said, according to Rick Stroud. Winston has faced a rape accusation for which he has not been charged, although he was not proven innocent, either.
"You look at the league right now. You look at the history of our league and there's been some good players that have been accused of things and they're playing right now," Lovie Smith told Pat Yasinskas. "Some we talk about. Some we don't even want to bring up. I'm talking about the ones that have been accused. There's guys accused, and there's guys who have actually committed things. I think with Jameis, he's accused. So for those people who are out there, if there's a group, I assume there should be a group of people who have been proven innocent. They should have a say also"
That certainly sounds like a coach who'd select Winston with the first overall pick. Winston is the consensus best quarterback in the draft from an on-field perspective, and the rape accusation is by far the most significant question he faces.
One group that needs to be convinced he's ready to be the face of the franchise is the Glazers. But according to Charlie Campbell of Walter Football, the Bucs' owners are currently comfortable with Jameis Winston, and will support taking him if he stays out of trouble between now and the draft. While the team's owners rarely push through their own viewpoint, if they aren't willing to have Winston be the face of their franchise, he won't be.