NCAA Football News

Jameis Winston's Scouting Report and Outlook for 2015 NFL Draft

This year's NFL draft is finally history. After all the mock drafts and media frenzy, the picks are finally locked into place. For teams that didn't find their preferred quarterback in 2014, they may have to look no further than 12 months down the road when Florida State's Jameis Winston is likely to take his chances at professional stardom.

Winston led the NCAA in passing yards per attempt (10.6) and passing efficiency rating (184.8) in 2013, according to Sports-reference.com. He went undefeated in his first year as a starter, won the BCS National Championship, the Heisman trophy, and he has even found time to play baseball for Florida State now that the season is over. He's also highly regarded for his leadership skills and intangibles, as this video demonstrates.

Despite his weekly heroics, Winston may not even be the top quarterback in the 2015 NFL draft. That honor could belong to Oregon's Marcus Mariota. According to Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, one NFL scout would have taken Mariota over Johnny Manziel had he entered this year's draft. Via Thamel:

"I'd take him over [Johnny] Manziel. He's more accurate. He's bigger and I think he's faster, not as elusive, but more durable. A lot of upside there," said the NFL scout.

Mariota has an extra year of starting experience under his belt and his numbers are impressive, but they still fell short of Winston's in 2013.

One area where Mariota does outpace Winston is running the football. Mariota racked up 775 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. Winston managed just 215 yards and four touchdowns on a 2.5 yards per carry average. Mariota may be a more effective runner, but Winston still has the mobility to move around in the pocket and buy time for his throws.

Unlike Mariota, Winston benefits from running a hybrid offense that contains elements of both spread and traditional offensive systems. Mariota will have to convince scouts that his numbers aren't the result of the unique, high-octane spread offense he runs at Oregon.

Winston's numbers aren't purely the result of a high volume passing attack that leaves quarterbacks ill-prepared for NFL schemes. In this way, Winston is unlikely to suffer the same fate as prolific college passers who played in gimmick offenses like Colt Brennan or Vince Young.

In fact, EJ Manuel, Winston's predecessor at Florida State, once stated the Buffalo Bills' offense is less complex than Florida State's. From a May 2013 interview with Sirius XM Radio, via ESPN.com's news services:

"I've done great. The learning curve for me is a lot shorter simply because of what I had at Florida State. [The Seminoles' offense is] more complex and a little bit harder to catch on and learn. This offense is very simple. I've done a great job with it."

This bodes well for Winston, who is working in a similar system under head coach Jimbo Fisher. In fact, Manuel did much more running than Winston in spread-option packages, which means Winston has likely spent more time working on pass plays that translate better to the NFL.

Of course, Winston may not even enter the 2015 NFL draft, according to Coach Fisher. Via Tim Linafelt of FloridaState.247sports.com:

“Everybody says he’s going to stay one year and leave,” Fisher said. “Which I don’t think that’s true. I think it will be two." 

It would be interesting to see how Winston might justify coming back for a junior season barring an injury that keeps him sidelined for an extended period of time as a sophomore.

Winston is a likely top-10 draft pick should he continue his dominating performances and enter the draft after his sophomore season. He has the size, skills and intangibles to compete at a high-level in the NFL. His 2014 season should give him ample opportunity to prove to NFL scouts that he is capable of performing in a traditional NFL offense.

Another quarterback Winston may have to outperform ahead of the 2015 NFL draft is UCLA's Brett Hundley. The Bruins' signal-caller has performed well in Westwood and will have three years of starting experience under his belt should he declare for 2015 as well.

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Why Justin Worley Will Be the Tennessee Vols' Starting QB in 2014

Justin Worley's big-game experience, senior leadership and calm demeanor under pressure will give him command of the Vols offense and the first snaps under center when Utah State comes to Knoxville on Aug. 30, 2014.

After claiming the starting quarterback position in 2013, Worley was on track for a serviceable season, throwing for 1,239 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions before a thumb injury against Alabama sidelined him for the rest of the year.

But the stats don't show that Worley managed to do something no Tennessee quarterback has done since 2009: beat a ranked team. 

 

First Tennessee Win Over a Ranked Team Since 2009

By leading the Vols to a last-second 23-21 win over No. 11 South Carolina on Oct. 19, 2013, Worley proved that he can step up when the pressure is right in his face—literally. 

His 40-yard bomb late in the fourth quarter, thrown moments before getting flattened by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, was caught by Marquez North in dramatic fashion and led to Michael Palardy's game-winning field goal.

Just one week earlier, Worley almost led the Vols to an upset victory over No. 6 Georgia before losing, 34-31, in overtime. In both games, he turned in nearly error-free performances, throwing for a combined two touchdowns, 394 yards and no interceptions. 

Despite his achievements in big games, Worley's fellow signal-callers aren't going to let him run away with the starting position without a fight. 

 

Riley Ferguson 

Redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson may be the most talented quarterback on the Vols' roster, and both fans and media have speculated that he has the strongest arm out of the bunch.

In fact, head coach Butch Jones told Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times Free Press in August 2013 that Ferguson "stepped up" and "made some big throws" shortly after arriving on campus. Even Worley admitted he was impressed by his young teammate's arm strength. 

Since then, Ferguson has continued to prove himself to coaches, teammates and onlookers in practice, but he appeared rattled and uncertain during the Orange and White game in April 2014, throwing an interception and fumbling after a blindside sack. 

Despite his talent, his lack of in-game experience will keep the starting position out of his reach for another season. 

 

Joshua Dobbs

After an impressive performance on the road against Alabama to replace an injured Worley, sophomore Joshua Dobbs showed that he wasn't quite ready for the spotlight by struggling to move the chains and throwing too many interceptions against Auburn and Vanderbilt. 

However, his play against Kentucky to close out the Vols' season, which included 199 yards passing, two touchdown passes and a 40-yard touchdown run, is good reason to be optimistic about his future on Rocky Top.

Dobbs also appeared poised and greatly improved in the 2014 spring game, throwing multiple crisp passes to his wide receivers and breaking several tackles on his way to the end zone on a busted play.

With Ferguson receiving a redshirt last season, Dobbs is a prime candidate to sit out in 2014 while he continues to develop and mature.  

 

Nathan Peterman

Nathan Peterman, the Vols' redshirt sophomore quarterback out of Fruit Cove, Fla., likely fell to the bottom of the pecking order after turning in a disastrous performance against the Florida Gators in 2013.

Peterman also suffered a serious thumb injury in the game that denied him the chance of redemption later in the season. 

Although his debut in The Swamp was far from ideal, Peterman is the second-most experienced quarterback on Tennessee's roster.

Bouncing back from adversity and climbing the depth chart in 2014 isn't out of the question for the former 4-star recruit, per Rivals, but it won't be enough to unseat Worley. 

 

It's Worley's Job to Lose

Of all the quarterbacks on the roster, Worley doesn't have the strongest arm, the quickest release or the fastest feet.

But with new offensive weapons surrounding him in 2014, Worley is poised to become the efficient, calm quarterback and the leader Tennessee needs to compete in the SEC and get back to its first bowl game since 2010. 

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Texas Longhorns Go Undrafted in NFL Draft for 1st Time Since 1937

For the first time since 1937, the Texas Longhorns failed to have a single player selected in the NFL draft, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Who said Mack Brown couldn't develop talent?

Wide receiver Mike Davis, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, defensive tackle Chris Whaley and cornerback Carrington Byndom were among the Longhorns with draft aspirations, but they've instead joined the ranks of the undrafted free agents.

Jeffcoat said that he does have some opportunities available to him, per Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman:

Prior to his resignation in December of 2013, one of Brown's biggest knocks was his inability to make the most out of his impressive recruiting classes. He could get the players to come to Austin, but once there, their potential was spoiled.

Take a look at how the 2010 class ended up:

Baylor head coach Art Briles alluded to the fact that five players from his program will be playing on Sundays:

The fact that Texas failed to get a single player drafted is another sign of how far the Longhorns have fallen down the totem pole. This isn't some plucky school from a non-AQ conference which is happy to get a guy taken in the second or third round. Texas has the richest football program in the country. To have zero players drafted is unacceptable.

This is also a likely factor in the Longhorns' decision to bring former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong to Austin:

Louisville had four players taken in the draft, including three in the first round. One of Strong's most impressive accomplishments with the Cardinals was the way in which he got the most out of his players.

The 2014 NFL draft will likely serve as a nadir for Texas football, or at least as much as an NFL draft can be a low point for the school.

Now Strong can come in and work with a clean slate to a certain extent. Given his track record at Louisville, hopefully this is the last time Texas is absent during the draft.

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