The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be set to draft a likely bust. That's what Football Outsiders' newest quarterback evaluation model finds in this ESPN Insider article. Outsiders' QBASE model gives Winston a 61% chance of busting, compared to Mariota's 22.8% and Brett Hundley's 30.3%.
Note that this is based purely on a statistical model that did not take into account Winston's off-field issues, which are widely seen as the biggest problem with him as a prospect. Instead, the model suggests that we've been severely overrating Winston's on-field prowess, too.
QBASE finds fault with Winston for the same reasons it disliked [Tim] Couch and [David] Carr. All three quarterbacks started for only two college seasons and had good-not-great stats in their last college season. Winston has the same weakness as Couch: His adjusted yards per attempt is not as good as his completion percentage. QBASE also docks Winston a little for not playing better despite some elite teammates.
Of course, a statistical model knows only so much. While Winston's statistical performance wasn't overly impressive in his second and final season, the reason so many scouts are excited about Winston is that he did show many of the necessary traits that translate to the NFL: anticipation, movement inside the pocket, standing tall against the rush, and the ability to make any throw. Those traits aren't reflected in the statistics, which is why the model doesn't pick up on them.
That said, it'd also be foolish to completely ignore this model. It's certainly a reason for concern, as are Winston's interceptions and his inconsistent mechanics. And while QBASE isn't perfect -- no statistical model is -- it has been fairly accurate at identifying busts among number one overall picks, nailing JaMarcus Russell, Alex Smith, Sam Bradford, Tim Couch, Michael Vick and David Carr as likely disappointments.
This is not a death blow for Winston by any means. Statistical models are only one part of projecting players to the NFL, something Outsiders is always quick to acknowledge, and it's easy to rationalize this projection with Winston's fairly unique circumstances: a second-year starter, mired in controversy, on a team that had lost many of its best players. But Winston is far from a safe pick, for a variety of reasons -- then again, neither is anyone else, anywhere, in any draft.