Coming out of the 2915 NFL Draft, Jameis Winston's leadership skills were highly touted. As he progressed through is rookie season, those skills were on full display and as the Buccaneers make a push toward the playoffs in his sophomore campaign, his ability to rally his teammates has never been more evident.
The Jameis Winston fans see in the middle of the huddle before kickoff is no facade, guard Ali Marpet said. Each Sunday Winston is like a kid in a candy store. And that passion has rubbed off on his teammates as the 7-5 Buccaneers battle for the NFC South title.
"I don't think there's anyone on this planet that loves football more than Jameis Winston," Marpet said during an interview with the NFL Network. "He loves to play. He loves practice, he loves every part of the game – preparation, playing on Sundays, getting everybody involved. One thing that makes it so fun to play with him is that he genuinely wants everybody else to succeed on the field. He is that leader. He wants everybody to play better. He wants everyone around him better, which is awesome to have."
Marpet came into the league in the same draft class as Winston, with the Buccaneers selecting him in the second round after taking Winston in the first. Aside from an injury which cost him three games during his rookie season, Marpet has lined up in front of Winston for every snap since the two entered the NFL.
"He's 100 percent authentic. I didn't know it before I got down here but as soon as I got down here I realized he's the real deal. He's a genuine person and he is a genuine leader. I think it comes to him naturally. I think that's why people gravitate to him, because it comes from a genuine place. He's not a fake, machismo leader - he's the real deal."
Behind Winston, the Buccaneers are tied for the lead in the NFC South. If the season were to end today, Tampa Bay would make the postseason as one of the Wild Card teams in the NFC.