This is a guest post from Alex Karzis, the co-host of the Emails From Doug Whaley podcast.
Now before you scoff at me and label me crazy (because I’d like you to get to know me a little more before you do that) just humour me, if you will, on what Jameis Winston slipping to the Bills would mean to this organization.
First of all, let’s get the “impossibility” thoughts out of your brain. Winston, after only two years of college football, has been involved in his fair share of scandals. Despite already being a professional athlete in many ways already, Winston’s behaviour shows he doesn’t realize how close he is to becoming an NFLer. A much-publicized Sexual Assault case, stealing a soda from a burger king (seriously look it up), or that he didn’t yell out a gratuitous viral Internet meme at a Seminole rally. Winston has proven, through his past actions, that he is simply not at a maturity level that is expected of a professional athlete. Winston may just be the most talented athlete in the draft, but he isn’t infallible.
In 2014, Winston followed up his Heisman winning campaign with a stellar sophomore effort, but he didn’t quite light the world on fire in the same way. Winston’s numbers didn’t slip much — 3,907 passing yards instead of 4,057 in his first season. The thing is, the dip in production captured expert’s imaginations, inspiring scouting reports attacking his weaknesses and character flaws. Not helping things is the squeek-y clean, Marcus Marriota. Marcus Mariota is a fantastic college quarterback, and could very well turn into a great NFL quarterback, but you can say the same thing about Jameis Winston. The difference is, other than calling a customer at the grocery store he worked at “a fat woman,” Marriota’s record is perfect.
Out of the 15 or so different NFL mock drafts I’ve poured over (I’m a little obsessive but that’s besides the point), Winston has been projected as high as 1 and as low as 15. The reason this huge discrepancy exists is a lot of experts predict Winston won’t fair well at the combine. No one doubt’s his talent, the interviews and impressions he’ll give to NFL teams is another matter all together. In the Big Brother-esque system the NFL operates under, a standoff-ish and seemingly selfish personality like Winston’s does not project well. So the thought of him dropping does not seem as crazy as it first might appear. In the recently posted (January 19th) Mock draft done by the Wikipedia of sports journalism, Bleacher Report, they have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting Winston 1st. While I’ll admit that there is a possibility this happens, for the sake of this article lets just say he doesn’t.
Perhaps Mariota goes first and the Jets don’t take a quarterback, instead trade for Jay Cutler (HA!). Bleacher Report has New Orleans selecting a linebacker at 13. If the Bills overlords T-Rex, and Mr.Emailsfromdougwhaley himself, create a generous package of picks, including the 2016 first rounder, along with another pick in the current draft and Kiko Alonso, that should be enough for Darth Goodell to announce that, “with the 13th pick in the NFL draft, the Buffalo Bills select, from Florida State, Jameis Winston.” What ensues is me throwing out my “I hate Rex Ryan” t-shirt, and I start researching how plausible it would be for me to move to Buffalo — and not live under the poverty line.
But in all seriousness, I don’t think this scenario is far from absolutely insane. With Rex as the coach, it would provide perhaps the biggest home run the Buffalo Bills could ever hit. Ryan is a very dominating presence within his team and his organization. With Ryan’s presence, Winston would be faced with either learning the Ryan way or not playing. With the discipline Ryan would bring, and the already established offensive schemes Greg Roman could draw up for Winston, the Bills already have a significantly better offense than they have had in many, many years. Couple that with being able to be flexible with Jerry Hughes due to the switch to 3-4, and a linebacking core that showed it was perfectly fine without Alonso anyway, Winston would represent an actual reason to be hopeful for the franchise.
Often times in sport, fans are unreasonable about their expectations of their teams due to the inability to separate the unconditional love they have for the team, from the real story at hand. The Bills going into the season as of right now have very little excitement on the offensive front. Greg Roman is well respected, and I do believe that he could improve this offense quite a bit, but the fact of the matter remains that Football teams generally live and die with their quarterback. Sure Seattle has the Legion of Boom, but no one on planet earth could explain to me how Russell Wilson isn’t leaps and bounds ahead of EJ Manuel who seems like quarterback de facto for the Bills at this point. Winston would not only provide competition within the Bills roster, but he would bring an attitude of winning, and a real and genuine distaste for losing. 9 wins was big for Buffalo, but replace Manuel/Orton with Winston and I don’t think it’s unthinkable to perceive 3 more wins on top of those 9. If Jameis Winston somehow wound up in Buffalo, it would be a good thing. A very, very, good thing.