Mac Engel

August 30, 2014

Did Winston have Jerry thinking of draft?

Is the Florida State quarterback enough to make Jerry Jones flush the season?

One week from Sunday at Jerry World, the Dallas Cowboys will begin their assault on 8-8, and we know for certain Jerry’s mind is already on his quarterback, as well as his future quarterback.

If Jerry Jones is regretting his decision not to gamble on drafting Johnny Football, it means that his mind has confronted the inevitably of replacing Tony Romo.

On Saturday night at Jerry World, a potential Romo replacement was on Jerry’s field — Florida State’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Jameis “Crab Legs” Winston.

The Cowboys will need a “Suck for Luck” season to draft Winston, the way the Colts did in 2011 when Peyton Manning’s neck injury and ensuing two-win record made it possible for the Colts to select Andrew Luck.

Luck was worth flushing a season and dumping a player who made the franchise relevant in a way that it had not been since it was in Baltimore.

These things are fluid, but right now Jameis Wintson is not worthy of a tank season or cutting loose Romo; this, however, does not mean the Cowboys should not be monitoring the situation closely.

To acquire Winston will require a top-five draft pick — ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has Mr. Jameis as the top-ranked prospect in the 2015 class.

Remember, Jerry has said he was very close to selecting Johnny Manziel. This means that he has “gone there” in his head on doing the one thing he hates more than discounted tickets: developing a quarterback.

The last time the Cowboys earned, not via trade, the right to draft No. 1 overall was Jerry’s first year, 1989, when they took Troy Aikman.

A lot will need to break bad for the Cowboys to be in a position to acquire Winston, starting with Romo’s bad back. If his back goes pop, a top-five pick is attainable. Even if Romo’s back holds up, this Cowboys’ defense looks potentially so record-setting poor that a top-10 pick looks not only possible but probable.

There is no shame in embracing the stink to earn the No. 1 pick. At this point, many Cowboys fans would rejoice in four months of stench in the hopes of acquiring a player who will break this run of mediocrity.

For the time being, Mr. Wintson needs to show a lot more than he did against T. Boone State — aka Oklahoma State — on Saturday night.

If Mr. Jameis Winston was the sure-thing that Luck was coming out of Stanford, Jerry should bag the season right now and be all in.

While both Luck and, at least according to some scouts, Manziel, have the nebulous “it” factor, there is something about Winston that does not feel No. 1 worthy just yet.

During the game, former NFL quarterback and analyst Sage Rosenfels tweeted: “Jameis Winston’s release is too slow for the NFL.”

Mechanics are always a target and it is difficult to determine until the passer is passing against NFL players.

Against Oklahoma State, Jameis showed it all, from the good to the bad. He has a strong, accurate arm. He can run. He can hold the ball too long. He threw interceptions. He took bad sacks.

Jameis has the arm and the body — 6-foot-4, 230 pounds — to be a scout’s fantasy.

His 28-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter included a Superman-like leap over an offensive lineman and was just more proof he is the best athlete on any field he plays, which includes baseball.

“Despite what he is off the field, because he has made some questionable decisions, on the field he as smart as any quarterback in college football,” ESPN college football analyst David Pollack told me. “He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and he does such a good job of understanding spacing and defenses. He’s really good. He’s hard to stop.”

The rub is if the Cowboys or any team is going to flush a season or just invest the No. 1 overall pick, specifically on a quarterback, it would be better if he’s not a knucklehead.

Winston is all kinds of talented and has a record that says he’s all kinds of stupid, too.

Winston has had a pair of incidents at FSU — a sexual assault allegation that was never prosecuted and a shoplifting citation — that will make any team nervous.

I asked a veteran NFL scout about Winston as the No. 1 overall pick, and he said he preferred Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Why? The scout pointed at his own head and shook it back and forth, implying there is something about Winston’s head.

It should be noted that the Panthers selected Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011 despite his questionable track record in college that included an arrest, reports of academic fraud, three schools, not to mention a national title and a Heisman trophy. Newton made the Pro Bowl last season and the Panthers were 12-4.

The similarities between Newton and Winston are plentiful, and much as there were concerns about Cam there are about Jameis.

With the 2014 season a week away, Jerry is not thinking about the 2015 draft. But we do know he is thinking about his quarterback, both future and present.

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