Thanks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers adding All-Pro speedster in Desean Jackson via free agency, third-year starting quarterback Jameis Winston is set for a MVP-caliber season in 2017.
Winston, the former top overall pick out of Florida State in the 2015 NFL Draft and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, has progressed incrementally in his first two years as the Buccaneers quarterback, and if his past production is any indication, then the former Seminole standout is on a MVP-type of arc.
During the 2016-17 season, Winston’s numbers improved in completions (345 from 312), attempts (567 from 535), completion percentage (60.8 from 58.3 percent), passing yards (4,090 from 4,042), passing touchdowns (28 from 22) and passer rating (86.1 from 84.2).
While some may see these as miniscule improvements, last time I checked, the NFL is a business and any sign of progress or an uptick in production, that is seen as a success.
While Winston also showed more comfort in new head coach Dirk Koetter’s more offensive-minded approach and West Coast Offense, Winston looked and actually played like a real NFL quarterback.
No disrespect to Lovie Smith, but if you compare Winston from his rookie year to his second, you saw more comfort and confidence.
Couple this improved confidence and poise along Tampa Bay picking up wideout Mike Evans fifth-year option, signing the fore-mentioned Jackson and Doug Martin in the backfield, and Winston could very well ascend into the next tier of quarterbacks.
At a solid 6’4 and 231 pounds, and only now just beginning to realize his full potential, the notion of the 23-year-old Winston winning the 2017 NFL MVP award considering that he was the youngest Heisman Trophy winner in its illustrious history as a freshman at 19 years old.
One other factor to consider is his own division, the NFC South, has produced the last two NFL MVP’s and Super Bowl LI runner-up’s in Cam Newton and Matt Ryan and one of the league’s all-time greatest passers in Super Bowl champion in Drew Brees, and Winston will have to take his game to a whole new level in what is widely consider the league’s most wide-open and unpredictable division.
BCS national champion. Heisman Trophy winner. Top overall pick in the NFL Draft. 2017 NFL MVP?
Considering his past accomplishments and still-untapped potential, don’t bet against Winston being amongst the NFL greats in the near future.