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NFL Draft 2015: Teams not concerned with Jameis Winston's off-field issues?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah spent a lot of time on Jameis Winston. So much time that he managed to fill an entire, hour-long podcast with interviews and observations on the Florida State quarterback. You can find that here (Move The Sticks podcast) or here (iTunes).

I'm not going to transcribe everything, because that would take forever, but I did want to get to the quotes on Jameis Winston's character. Mostly because that's the big question mark for him. We know he's a good player on the field, if not perfect, and we know he works hard and everyone at Florida State loves his leadership. So the one thing that can prevent him going number one overall is the quarterback.

Daniel Jeremiah wasn't very concerned, really, starting with the rape accusation. "The team's I've talked to that have done their homework on this issue, they've told me they're comfortable with the findings. So they're okay with what the courts ruled on that."

That's crucial for any NFL team, because that rape accusation is the biggest off-field issue. The rest can be ascribed to immaturity, which may or may not be improved upon, but that accusation is on a whole other level. But Jeremiah's investigation didn't stop there, and he had a lot to say about Winston's character beyond that.

"I do tend to hink it's more immaturity than this is a bad guy. I look at the guys that flop in the NFL, and I look at the guys that have a real, real, real issue with substance. I don't see that any of that with Jameis Winston, that doesn't concern me at all. They don't like football, that's not a concern with me when you talk to people that have been around Winston at all. So, look, they need to be investigated, documented, studied, all that stuff, but the digging I did with Winston I felt comfortable with it. I think is somebody that needs to be a little bit more mature, but this is not a major character risk."

And talking to others who have been around Winston, Jeremiah saw that confirmed.

"He is a self-motivated young man, he doesn't see barriers, he pushes through barriers, he has high aspirations, he wants to achieve greatness, all those things that you're looking for," Stanford head coach David Shaw told Jeremiah. "And as a coach, one of the things you look is the difference between what's a bad guy, and what's a guy that has a lot to learn, you know has some maturity to go through. And I think Jameis has been the latter, he's learned a lot of tough lessons.

"Probably the biggest lesson is being in the spotlight, and you have to live your life differently when you're in the spotlight, and being that quote-unquote 'face of the franchise,' being the guy that everybody looks to in the huddle. And you have to be that stand-up guy, and I think he's learned a lot of lessons. I do not think he's a bad kid, I do not think he's a risk necessarily, I think he's grown up a lot, I think he's got a chance to be successful at that next level."

Jeremiah also shared an anecdote of Florida State's equipment manager reaching out to him to give Winston a boost.

"Jameis is the real deal," the equipment manager said. "I've been around him since his high school days, he's a special young man. He smiles and has fun and his best attribute is his love and understanding of his teammates. I've finished season number 25 this year in the business, 17 in the NFL eight at the Division I level, been around [Joe] Montana, Ray Lewis, Derrick Thomas, Marcus Allen and Derrick Brooks. Without question, he's as good a leader as any of those guys. He's an exceptional player, and when he says he plans on playing in the Super Bowl next year he honestly does. I would not put anything past him."

Jeremiah thought the trainer was honest, and Winston's leadership was authentic. "When you talk to people that have played with [Winston] and you've talked to people that have been around him, you don't get [that his leadership is fake] at all. And to me, I thought that spoke volumes about him as a leader."

Assorted other notes:

  • Good arm strength, outstanding pocket awareness and general feel for situational football.
  • His interceptions are a real concern, mostly getting locked in and missing a backside/underneath defender.
  • Outstanding on timing and anticipation.
  • Winston's pre-draft trainer said he was a little heavier than ideal, but he worked hard to lose it and the weight is not uncommon. Jeremiah was a little concerned with the weight, though.
  • The trainer was actually pleasantly surprised with his 40-yard dash time, which was widely seen as disappointing at 4.97 seconds.
  • Winston was very committed to studying football film, even while playing baseball. Jeremiah wasn't at all concerned about his commitment to football.
  • Winston actually was kind of a leader on the baseball team, which Jeremiah was very impressed with.
  • Jeremiah would take Winston first overall, comfortably.

Again, the entire podcast is definitely worth a listen. There's a ton of good stuff in there about his leadership, his on-field play and his character. And overall, this was obviously a very good investigation for Jameis Winston, who continues to look like the likely number one pick.