"Bad guy or immaturity? I'm leaning toward the latter," Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht told Peter King. King talked to both Jason Licht and Jameis Winston this past week for his weekly MMQB feature.
Licht's assessment of Winston's personality comes a week after Lovie Smith said he'd be comfortable with Jameis Winston as the face of the franchise, given what he knows now. It certainly looks like the Bucs are gearing up to pick the Florida State product, but they're not done with their assessment of either player. Licht told King they plan to spend 30 hours one-on-one with each of the top two quarterbacks. So far, they've only had a fifteen-minute interview at the combine with each player.
That Licht sees Winston's off-field issues as immaturity doesn't mean he's not concerned about them. No general manager wants his quarterback to be immature, although that immaturity doesn't seem to have affected Winston's dedication to football.
"I'd be lying if I said I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the off-field stuff," Licht said. "It's always in the back of your mind. We're people too. We have wives and daughters and bosses to answer to. And at the end of the day we will do the kind of due diligence the likes of which I don't believe the Bucs will have ever done. This decision is going to affect so many people and their families. We've got to get it right."
But overall, Licht was very impressed with both players, comparing them to some of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
"I've been lucky in this league in my 20 years," Licht said. "I've seen some great ones. I was in Miami starting out when Dan Marino was there. I worked for New England and watched Tom Brady grow. And I've been around Donovan McNabb and Kurt Warner. I've seen the common threads. And now in these two quarterbacks, I see an amazing amount in common. They both had great success in college. Both won a Heisman. Both winners. Both tape junkies. Both coaches' dreams. Both mentally can handle the pressure of what they're about to face."
Jason Licht named one specific play he was impressed with for Winston, a down-field block on a running play. That represents Winston's competitive drive. He didn't come up with a single play that left him coming away impressed with Marcus Mariota, saying that there were a lot of highlight plays he loved -- but apparently no down-field block.
Peter King's affirmed what we've known for weeks now: Winston is the consensus pick. King notes that "about 80 percent" of the people he spoke to think the Bucs will take Jameis Winston.
Jason Licht doesn't sound entirely certain yet, and there's certainly room for change. Those 30 hours one-on-one with each player will be crucial. But right now everything certainly points at Jameis Winston as the next Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback.