Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser opened yesterday’s PTI by addressing Mike Freeman’s report that he heard several scouts at the NFL Combine comparing Jameis Winston’s football IQ to Peyton Manning’s. Wilbon was irked immediately:
“I don’t believe any of this garbage. It’s garbage. Has he thrown a pass? Has he shown you that he can not get beat in a bowl game? I’m talking about lately. Has he done anything since then? Has he had pads on since then? No he hasn’t, Tony. Don’t fall for this junk. This is what happens when a bunch of people are there for a purpose where they’ve got to hype something or figure out how they can make themselves important and tell you what they’ve determined. We don’t know anything! If you start comparing him to Peyton Manning, I’m going to shut you down.”
It’s not unlikely that scouts made these comparisons to Freeman, but how truthful they’re being — and whether we should even care about what they have to say — is another story. Nevertheless, we’ve been hearing all sorts of gushing about Winston’s mind over the past few weeks. Steve Mariucci was effusive in his praise. Todd McShay has Winston pegged as the second best quarterback prospect in the past decade, trailing only Andrew Luck.
It’s silly season, and nobody knows anything, but on the surface it’s fascinating that the conversation has headed in this direction considering that Winston’s biggest red flag is his off-field risk. Interestingly, Winston’s athletic measurables aren’t tip-top. Does the dichotomy between Winston’s apparent football intelligence and speed defy racial expectations?
“The thing is we knew that going in there already — the idea of Jameis as a football savant,”said Bomani Jones on Highly Questionable (he’s been making the Winston-Manning comparison for months). “There’ve been videos out there of him as a seventh grader breaking down the Cover 2. There’s only one reason we’re talking about his 40, and that’s because he’s black — if there were any other pocket passer that went out there and ran a five-flat 40, we would start referencing Tom Brady’s 5.2 time when he ran it. This just defies the expectations.”
One thing that seems under the radar is Winston’s turnovers this past season. Florida State lost a lot of players to the NFL between Winston’s two years, but it’s alarming that he threw 18 interceptions this past season after just 10 the year before. Does that not play into his ability to read defenses? Whatever the case may be, we’ve still got over two months left before the Draft, which is plenty of time for the narrative to shift completely for reasons that have nothing to do with football.