NFL Draft Players to Watch: Jameis Winston, Stock Down?

By Jason McIntyre

Each week this season, we’ll highlight a few games with NFL draft prospects with an eye toward the 2015 draft. Here’s week one if you missed it; here’s week two; here’s week three.

Florida at Alabama, 3:30 pm, CBS

FLORIDA: Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Junior: Pass rushing terror disappeared in a lot of important games last year (just 1/2 sack in five games against ranked teams), but looks primed for a large junior year. He’s expected to enter the draft if he has the season many expect him to. Possesses similar size (6-foot-2, 265 pounds) and traits (quick first step, deceptive power for his size) to Dwight Freeney, and he’s a 1st/2nd round pick. Good stats a sophomore (10.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles). Gave up eating McDonald’s in 2014.

FLORIDA: Leon Orr, DT, Redshirt Senior: I don’t expect Alabama to struggle against Florida the way it did against West Virginia, but if the Gators want to keep it remotely close, Fowler and Orr will need to slow the Tide’s mighty ground game. And Orr (6-foot-5, 305 pounds) is a disruptive space eater in the middle who could help. Could he pack on 40 pounds and retain his speed and play in a 3-4 in the pros? Came out of high school a top 100 recruit (playing tight end) and briefly was an offensive lineman at Florida. Up-and-down college career, and many are still waiting to see his best ball. Get him with the right defensive coach – Rex Ryan? – and we might see it. Mid-round pick now based on athletic ability, not on his tape.

ALABAMA: Landon Collins, S, Junior: Fans and scouts are enamored with the 6-foot, 215-pound hard-hitting safety. I don’t think he’s as good an NFL prospect as the last great Alabama safety (Mark Barron), but I would rate him ahead of Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, who went to Green Bay in the first round last year. On a stacked ‘Bama defense last year (Top 5 by nearly every metric), Collins was a stud playmaker (2nd in tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions) but how will he perform in big games this year without as strong a supporting cast? I think he’s closer to the 22-32 range in the 1st round than 10-21. History suggests Alabama DBs who have been stellar in college don’t always translate to the NFL.

Clemson at Florida State, 8 pm, ABC

FSU: Jameis Winston, QB, Redshirt Sophomore: Why highlight a guy who won’t play today because he yelled, “Fuck her right in the pussy” in the middle of campus this week, lied to the school, and got caught in a lie? Because it’s always fun to break down guys as their stock tanks. Winston can play, there’s no question about that – great size (6-foot-4, 235-pounds), pocket presence, and he’s mobile. Can put the ball in tight windows, reads defenses well and is a superior athlete. What doesn’t he do? Act like a franchise QB off-the-field. Every scouting report you read will probably start with entitled, arrogant, confident to a fault, and immature – and that’s before you start doing investigative work into his background. Given this rocky start to the NFL season, character matters more now than ever. Winston would be better off losing a game or two than screwing up off-the-field again between now and the draft.

Ronald Darby, CB, Junior: 5-11, 190: The second best defensive back on the team (PJ Williams, MVP of the National Championship, projects as a better pro) was with Jameis Winston on the night of the alleged rape, but the University cleared him this summer. Was the 2012 ACC defensive rookie of the year; could be an All-American this year. Very good cover corner who could have shutdown potential at the next level. Fast. Will definitely be tested against Artavis Scott (speed) or Mike Williams (size).