Jameis Winston just keeps racking up awards for his rookie season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback was named Pro Football Focus' Rookie of the Year, beating out former teammate Ronald Darby, Leonard Williams, Tyler Lockett and Todd Gurley.
While some young quarterbacks in recent years have played conservatively and relied on the talent around them, Winston was asked to do much more with lesser talent. His average depth of target of 10.3 was the fifth-highest among quarterbacks this year behind MVP candidates Carson Palmer, Cam Newton, and Ben Roethlisberger. He accomplished a 4,000-yard season despite a below-average offensive line in pass blocking efficiency. On paper, he has a strong receiving core around him, but Austin Seferian-Jenkins missed over half the season, and Vincent Jackson missed six games. The Buccaneers lacked consistency from their third and fourth wide receiver spots.
Where Winston was most impressive was his big-time throws. He had 39, which tied him for sixth-best alongside Tom Brady. If he can take away some of the negatives, the former FSU standout could be a Pro Bowler by his second season. When you consider how many outright busts there have been at quarterback over the past three years, and how long it's taken for others to develop, the fact that Winston was this good this early is incredibly impressive.
Winston's rookie season hasn't gone unnoticed elsewhere. Earlier, ESPN's Mel Kiper called him his Offensive Rookie of the Year, also naming Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Kwon Alexander to his All-Rookie team.
These awards are a testament to the excellent draft class the Bucs had this year. The Bucs appear to have nailed their first four picks, with left tackle Donovan Smith the only one whose development as a starter was a little questionable.
Those rookies didn't play well enough to save Lovie Smith's job, even though Jason Licht and he both consistently emphasized that all personnel decisions were made jointly. Instead, whoever the Bucs hire to be their next head coach will get the benefit of these players' abilities.