Greg Cosell is one of the best tape analysts in the business -- he's been doing it for decades now. So I always try to listen to his opinions on quarterbacks, and Jameis Winston came up last week when he appeared on The Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone.
"One could argue that stylistically, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston are somewhat similar," Cosell said. "I remember when Matt Ryan came out. I very much liked Matt Ryan when he came out, but there were some who believed that he was a little slow-twitch, that he was a little bit of a strider. The same things that I believe about Jameis WInston."
Intriguingly, he compared Mike Glennon to Matt Ryan as well when the former came out in the draft. The Bucs certainly seem to have a type right now, despite Lovie Smith making noise about athletes at quarterback: they want pocket passers. Of course, having someone who's compared to Matt Ryan doesn't mean he'll have the same level of success.
"The biggest concern for Tampa will be the offensive line, because I think that Jameis Winston needs an offensive line. I think he needs a running game too and they don't really have one right now, we don't know who their back will be at this point. But I think they're going to have to be a little careful with Winston because there could be a lot of pressure on him, and he does have that willingness to turn it loose and he can be a little reckless.
"Jameis is a pull-the-trigger quarterback. He's a confident thrower, he has built into his DNA, which is great, that he's gonna turn it loose, and he's going to throw to receivers even if they appear covered. And with those two big guys on the outside and a big tight end, that plays into the way he sees the game. The issue there is pass protection, because Jameis is a little slow twitch and a little deliberate in everything he does and that needs to be speeded up."
Those are all fair concerns, and I'm sure the Bucs share them. Which would be why they invested two second-round picks on the offensive line, which they hope will help them make strides in the running game as well. Ultimately, though, offensive line and running game or not -- Winston is going to have to prove his quality by himself. Because that's what the best quarterbacks do: they succeed even when their offensive line and running game are struggling.
That's not to say that Winston has to be successful as a rookie, and I think we can expect some struggles, especially in the form of turnovers. Any quarterback is going to look better when he has help, of course, but these players don't get paid over $20 million per year because they need everything to be perfect for them to be successful. And really, Winston did show in college that he can be successful when he's pressured and when the offensive line is less than perfect. That's exactly what he's going to have to do in Tampa.