TAMPA – Who would you rather have at quarterback, Jameis Winston or Kirk Cousins? Would you take Winston over Eli Manning? Or how about Winston over Alex Smith?
Well, the numbers crunchers at Pro Football Focus have poured all the analytical resources they have at their disposal into answering those questions and decided that Winston is the slightly better option.
Because everyone likes a good quarterback debate, PFF has put together its rankings of all the NFL’s 32 projected starting quarterbacks and Winston came out ahead of several very notable colleagues.
Coming in at No. 13 overall, a spot that earned him a place among a group that PFF referred to as a “Good Starter,’’ Winston also ranked ahead of the quarterback he’ll forever be compared to, Marcus Mariota.
Both are in the third tier of quarterbacks behind the “Elite,’’ of which only two made the grade according to PFF’s rankings, and the “Upper-Level Starters,’’ of which there are only six.
Eight quarterbacks are in the “Good Starter’’ category, seven each are in both the “Middle of the Road Starter’’ and “Below Average Starter’’ categories and one, DeShone Kizer, is in a category called “Not Enough Information.’’
And speaking of information, PFF offers up some that is very interesting regarding Winston and his ability to connect – or not connect – as well as the Buccaneers want him to on the deep ball.
PFF notes that Winston tied for second in the NFL last year with 11 touchdowns off throws that sailed 20 or more yards in the air but somehow ranked 25th in the league with a 34.8 adjust completion percentage on those throws.
That latter number is something Winston and the Bucs have been working hard to correct since they added deep threat DeSean Jackson in free agency this past spring.
The fact that Winston completed 68.1-percent of all his throws during the preseason and consistently hit on deep balls during training camp workouts suggests he has indeed improved in that critical area.
If the improvements continue, and many believe they will, Winston could pass a few more of those in that “Good Starter’’ category and one day maybe even earn a spot in the “Elite’’ category.