One the eve of the NFL Draft there isn't much Boston College news, but the football world remains focused on a player very familiar to BC fans: Jameis Winston. His off the field issues are well known. I cannot speak to his character or his maturity. Both could be issues in his NFL success. But as a football player, I think he's going to be very good in the NFL. In fact, I have a tried and true, never failed*, totally subjective form of evaluation for all NFL prospects. I throw out all the stats. I ignore the combine. I don't even care about most of their college career. Instead I evaluate them on how they played against BC.
As silly as it might seem, I do have faith in my "how'd he play against us" theory. In part because I know our team pretty well, so I know when someone has played them well. Also our defenses have been very reliant on systems (heavy zone in Spaz, heavy pressure with Brown). Because we are one-dimensional and usually decent in that dimension, it puts pressure on the opposing QB to make the plays. If a QB cannot figure out and adjust to our systems, I don't trust them at the next level where everything gets more complex.
Russell Wilson surprised many NFL fans, but most BC fans remember how good he was against us. Michael Vick had one of his best games ever against BC. I became a believer in Colin Kaepernick when we shut down his running and he still did enough in the air to beat us. Can any BC fan think of a recent QB who looked bad against us and then went on to have a top flight NFL career?
Winston's two games against BC were probably two of his biggest tests in college. He famously used the 2013 game as a reminder to his teammates that they could come back to win the National Championship game. Last season's contest wasn't filled with highlights but it ended with Winston leading a winning drive in the final minutes.
In the two games, I saw enough to think Winston will be a good NFL QB. He made good decisions on the field. He made tight throws. He read things well and when things broke down, he made great plays (see the video above). Winston is not perfect, but he's tough to bring down and can make any throw. That alone will get him plenty of chances in the NFL. But his ability to adjust to BC's different pressures leads me to believe he'll be fine in the NFL's faster game.
Could something derail him? Sure. A bad team or more bad choices could sink his career. But if he is the player BC fans saw, he's worth the risk.
*I've never actually selected nor coached a player in the NFL. But who's paying attention to that sort of detail.