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Data Crunch: Winston and NFL Draft History

What does Jameis Winston have in common with Barry Sanders, John Elway, and Derrick Brooks?


Stop me if you've heard this story before.  A young kid from small-town Bessemer, Alabama burst onto the scene as an impressive dual-sport athlete, hitting for power in baseball and as an explosive playmaker on offense in football.  After being highly recruited by several colleges, the athlete decides not to venture too far from home.  Instantly, his school becomes a powerhouse as the All-American player receives numerous national accolades including the prestigious Heisman Trophy.  After a decorated collegiate career, the athlete draws national attention declaring for the NFL and is highly anticipated to be a top pick on draft night.  After much debate, including questions of the player's baseball aspirations, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select the player number one overall.  This could describe Bo Jackson or Jameis Winston as the two share many obvious similarities.  Bucs fans hope that's where most of the comparisons stop.

Bo Jackson was a short-lived phenom in the NFL after famously (or infamously) refusing to play a snap for the Buccaneers.  Contrastingly, Winston cannot stop expressing how happy he is to be in Tampa.  Winston will forever share a common bond with three special group of players: Heisman Trophy winners (such as Barry Sanders), number one overall NFL draft picks (such as John Elway), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers first round picks (such as Derrick Brooks).  There's even a third player to check all three boxes that you will have to find in the graphic below (hint: like Winston, he was also a quarterback for a team that is now in the ACC).

Use the tabs below to select each segment of players to compare.  Pro-Football-Reference's Approximate Value is used to value a player's career contribution.  An Approximate Value of 50 was selected to represent the line of a long and successful NFL career.

Winston has the pedigree to suggest he can be a special player in the NFL. Buccaneers first round draft selections average an extensive 8-year career in the NFL. Further, nearly every other Heisman Trophy winner since 1970 has made at least one Pro Bowl roster in his career (47%). Finally, 20% of (eligible) players drafted first overall since 1970 are in the Hall of Fame today (and others may soon join them). History has shown Bucs fans should temper expectations, but it also suggests that Winston may be the next great draft day selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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