Jameis Winston’s NFL Stock Rises, As Johnny Manziel’s Plummets

Who would have guessed that between Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel, “Johnny Football” would be the borderline thug? The underachiever? The ticking time bomb?

Yes, white people can be thugs, too, and Manziel has exhibited all the earmarks. He’s even robbed someone. . . himself.

Drafted by the Cleveland Browns despite concerns about his size, arm strength and off-the-field shenanigans, Manziel, we continue to learn, is falling toward an abyss that has been occupied by many NFL quarterback busts.

It is just a tad early to give Manziel that label. But he has a lot of catching up to do. More on his descent later.

What’s important is that Winston of Florida State has had a similar career arc as Manziel, albeit it a year later. He, too, won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, returned for his sophomore year and declared for the draft after it. And Winston was embroiled in myriad controversies that had nothing to do with football.

For a time, the sexual assault case that was dropped, the stolen crab legs and the public obscenity brought down Winston’s stock. The questions surfaced about Winston’s penchant for trouble, from serious issues to petty concerns, and soon NFL personnel wondered if he would be worth the trouble.

Upon further review, those same league staff members have reversed their opinion of Winston.

Now, according to unidentified NFL scouts who spoke to ESPN, Winston’s stock not only has risen, but he is projected as the No.1 pick in the draft in a few months, a pick held by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Not even a month ago Heisman Trophy-winner Marcus Mariota was a sure thing to be the first pick; Winston was No. 25 on some draft experts’ charts.

“Winston is the most advanced on-field quarterback in the draft,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said. “Questions about Winston’s maturity and off-field decision-making are more than fair and could have him written off some draft boards if he can’t convince teams he can be a franchise leader … but if Winston realizes his potential, he’s a possible superstar.”

“If” is the operative word. Manziel, to this point, has been unable to stop partying and drinking enough to learn the playbook, according to teammates who spoke to ESPN. “More than once, (Manziel) teammates corrected the play-call in the huddle, or headed to the line hoping things would work because the call was wrong. Sometimes, the offense would get lined up wrong because Manziel forgot to read the whole play or got the verbiage wrong (saying ‘left’ instead of ‘right,’ for example).”


Worst, Manziel did not seem to care much about getting better.

“Manziel throughout the entire 2014 season was a ‘100 percent joke,” one teammate told the network, which added that two team sources said security found a player on game day (Manziel) who they felt clearly had partied hard the night before and was “drunk.”

Winston never let his off-the-field issues impact his performance. He played at a high level last season before declaring for the draft. Along the way he was cleared of rape/sexual assault of a student, who just participated in a documentary called “The Hunting Ground” about her experience with Winston.

But the legal part of Winston’s troubles are over. He said the right things about a need to grow up and that cannot be truer than now.

Manziel has set a terrible precedent. Winston has to craft his own path, one that shuns the troublesome past so he can flourish in the future.

Back to top