Former Florida State Seminoles quarterback and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, the projected first overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft in April, met with Tampa Bay Buccaneers officials on Tuesday, March 3. The Bucs have the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Jameis Winston met with Tampa Buccaneers officials on Tuesday, March 3.
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Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official website confirmed Winston's visit with head coach Lovie Smith and Co at One Buc Place. Winston previously met with the Bucs during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month.
This time around, Winston's pre-draft visit allowed him to re-acquaint himself with team officials in the hopes they will select him first overall in the NFL draft next month. A March 2 survey posted on Buccaneers.com has Winston as the overwhelming favorite over 2014 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks.
Winston spoke about his desire to stay in the state of Florida, per Smith:
"Being able to play three years in Florida, I would love to stay here in this great state. I've just got to take advantage of this blessing. It's not really important to me to be the first pick, but it is important to me to be picked.
"I believe that I have been blessed during my years at Florida State to win a national championship and just be a winning quarterback. And I believe this place -- I would love to be here.
"I just want them to know that I am human and I'm a great person. This smile isn't fake. I just want to show them that I can be the face of this franchise one day. Actions speak louder than words."
Smith stresses Winston didn't meet with the Buccaneers on Tuesday to demonstrate his physical prowess, as that was already done at the Scouting Combine in February. Instead, he just had several sit-down meetings with team officials including a breakfast with coach Lovie Smith and a long talk with Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht.
ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas says the timing of Winston's visit is unusual consdering prospective top overall draft picks don't meet with teams until a few weeks before the day of the draft. The gap between Winston's meeting with the Bucs and the 2015 NFL draft, which is from April 30 to May 2, is almost two months.
A team official confided to Yasinskas Tampa Bay wanted to meet with Winston this week so the team can fully concentrate on free agency, which begins next Tuesday, March 10.
Yasinskas also cites his ESPN colleague Adam Schefter, who earlier reported the Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, will be heavily involved in the meetings with Winston. Yasinskas notes the Glazer family normally do not interfere with football matters, but this time they are making an exception as Winston has the potential to be face of the franchise and earn millions in the process.
Although Winston has had a spotty off-field reputation (including a sexual assault allegation), coach Lovie Smith declared during the combine that the Bucs' research into the quarterback's background has revealed nothing alarming which would deter them from drafting him next month, per ESPN.
Yasinskas also says Coach Smith has "talked highly" of Mariota, but Winston's Tuesday visit makes it more apparent he has the edge at this point.
Tampa Bay's urgent need for a quarterback is no secret. The team limped to a 2-14 record last season with Josh McCown (who has since been signed by the Cleveland Browns) and Mike Glennon under center. NFL.com's Mike Huguenin stresses the Bucs also need a pass rusher, a safety, a linebacker and offensive linemen, quarterback "would seem to be the highest priority."
This will mark the fifth time the Buccaneers will select first overall in the NFL draft, per Huguenin. The first four top overall picks selected by Tampa Bay were defensive end Lee Roy Selmon (1976), running back Ricky Bell (1977), running back Bo Jackson (1986) and quarterback Vinny Testaverde (1987).
Winston also made news recently as he is aspiring to trademark his "Famous Jameis" nickname, per a March 2 update by ESPN Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell. The Legacy Agency, which represents Winston, filed the trademark on his behalf on Feb. 5.
The Legacy Agnecy partner Russ Spielman told Rovell the reason behind the filing. He quipped,"We have begun taking steps to protect our client and his intellectual property rights. Right now, his sole focus is on football. We hope to utilize this way down the line."
Winston traces the "Famous Jameis" nickname back to his Little League baseball days. It became even more popular when he won the 2013 Heisman Trophy and led his Florida State Seminoles to the national title against the Auburn Tigers that season, per Rovell.
According to ESPN, Winston was known as "Jaboo" while growing up in his home state of Alabama. It is also in that same state where a man attempted to trademark his new "Famous Jameis" nickname when he gained national recognition as the Seminoles' starting quarterback.
On the attempted trademark in Alabama, Rovell says,"The government office challenged the filing on the grounds that it likely was connected to the football star."
News of Winston's trademark filing comes just less than a week after Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch sought to trademark his famous line,"I'm just here so I won't get fined." Lynch repeatedly mentioned it during Super Bowl XLIX Media Day in February.
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