If you didn’t think we were already in peak offseason, the last week or so has slapped you in the face with that truth.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott & Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
Last week, there was a big debate sparked on Twitter on whether or not Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz or Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was the more alluring player to have for the future. There were fans on each side who gave their pros and cons, but, honestly, there was much more debate than I thought defending Wentz, especially after the year Prescott had.
This week things have been taken up to another level – a level it should have never gone. Pro Football Focus did a fun exercise with its writing staff where it did a re-draft of the entire NFL for all 32 teams. But the fun part was that there was no age limitation, so any player in college football or even high school football was also eligible. It was fun to read. I certainly have my own questions with the first round, like when someone selected a kid who has won nine college football games, Sam Darnold, in the middle of the first round over a player who has been the most elite player at his position for three years and counting, Aaron Donald.
My qualms with the first 32 were tame compared to that of NJ.com’s Eagles reporter, Eliot Shorr-Parks, who was shocked that Wentz was not taken in the Top 32.
It gets crazier.
Not only did Shorr-Parks think that Wentz should have been in the first round, he also said that he would have taken Wentz over any other non-quarterback, pro or not pro. And then, to take things to the reason I’m writing this article to you today, he said that in a total NFL re-draft, the only players in the world he would take over Carson Wentz were Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota.
No Prescott. No Cam Newton. No Andrew Luck.
No Jameis Winston.
Eagles fans and writers, I’ll give you all this: As a group, you are very passionate bunch. In the good times, I’ve seen Philly rally around their sports teams like few other cities in the nation can. But, I ain’t lettin’ y’all get away with this one.
I’m here to specifically talk about someone honestly picking Carson Wentz in a re-draft over Jameis Winston, and why it’s absolutely absurd. First, let’s take a look at the reasoning Shorr-Parks gave for his decision there.
WOULD I TAKE [WINSTON] OVER WENTZ?: No
Winston has answered a lot of questions about his off-the-field issues since coming into the NFL and appears to be the leader many expected him to be. Wentz, however, also has command of the Eagles locker room and doesn’t come with any off-the-field issues.
Let’s start this comparison form the beginning.
In high school, Winston was won a state championship his junior year. He was also the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Alabama. As a unanimous 5-star recruit, he received 18 scholarship offers from D-1 schools, and ultimately chose Florida State.
Wentz was considered a late bloomer. He didn’t fully grow into his 6-5 frame we see now until his college days. Because of this, Wentz only had moderate success in high school. He didn’t even earn a rating in the 247 Sports rankings as a recruit, and therefore, did not field any FBS D-1 scholarship offers. Instead he signed with an FCS school, North Dakota State.
QB Jameis Winston at Florida State – Photo by: Getty Images
At the collegiate level, Winston redshirted his true freshman year, but was then named the starting quarterback the following season. In his first season as a starter, Winston led the Seminoles to an undefeated season and a BCS National Championship, while also winning the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s best player. In his two seasons before declaring for the NFL Draft, Winston threw for 7,964 yards, 68 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in 27 games, losing just one game in his college career.
Wentz had his own collegiate success, even though it was against lower-level competition for a dynasty school. He led the Bison to two national championships, throwing for 4,762 passing yards, 42 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 23 games as a starting quarterback, losing just three games.
Winston was drafted No. 1 overall in 2015.
Wentz was drafted No. 2 overall in 2016.
In Winston’s first two seasons in the NFL, he has started all 32 games. He’s thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of his first two years, and is the first quarterback in NFL history to do so. In 2015, he threw for 4,042 yards with 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions with a 84.2 quarterback rating.
Winston was selected to the Pro Bowl in his first season, and was named the Pepsi Rookie of the Year. In 2016, Winston increased his numbers in every category – though one is a bad thing (interceptions). He threw for 4,090 yards with 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions with an 86.1 quarterback rating. He was the youngest player to pass for 3,000, the youngest player to pass for 4,000 yards and the youngest player to pass for 40 touchdowns.
Wentz has also started every game of his NFL career thus far with 16. Wentz also has his own NFL record for the most pass completions by a rookie at 379. In his rookie season, the threw for 3,782 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interception with a 79.3 quarterback rating.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
I write all that to simply say this: Wentz has never been as good as Winston literally at any point in his football career – and, guess what, Winston is younger than Wentz, too, so he’s one-upped Wentz at every step at a younger age.
Finally, let’s look at the last sentence Shorr-Parks wrote about Wentz over Winston.
“Wentz, however, also has command of the Eagles locker room and doesn’t come with any off-the-field issues.”
I can’t blame Shorr-Parks too much for this, because, let’s face it, since his college days, the only time Winston has made national media that is read by non-Bucs fans has been when it’s negative. So, I get the underlying narrative.
But, it’s a narrative – it’s not the truth.
In fact, from the first moment he’s been a Buccaneer, Winston has been the team’s leader.
That’s a video of Winston making sure he was the first one there before all the other rookies on the very first day of rookie min-camp. Since that time, there have been multiple testimonials from players and coaches that say Winston beats them to the building, the weight room and the meeting rooms, and he’s often the last one to leave the practice field, too – both for extra reps and for time with the fans.
And if you want to talk about the locker room…
That’s Winston, in his rookie season, as a 21-year-old kid, leading, motivating and encouraging grown men who are far his senior. If being a leader is what Shorr-Parks thinks gives Wentz a nod over Winston, I’ll kindly disagree.
At the end of the day, it’s an opinion. If Shor-Parks would really take Wentz over Winston, even considering all the evidence I just laid out, that’s fine. He can.
But I still think he’s wrong.