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How will Jameis Winston’s fourth season turn out?

Wayne Masut | Staff Photographer

The former Florida State Seminoles QB is entering what many would call a make-or-break season.

1st Overall Picks

Not every quarterback taken first overall succeeds, look no further than 2007 first overall pick JaMarcus Russell who was taken by the Oakland Raiders. Most would even say Sam Bradford who was taken in 2010 is a bit of a bust. Since 2010, he has only played two full seasons, and he has never had a winning record as a starting NFL quarterback. While Russell only lasted in the league for three seasons, Bradford is still playing. Last season he played in two games for the Minnesota Vikings, guiding them to a 2-0 record before once again being sidelined by an injury.

Those are just two of a long list of quarterbacks taken first overall. Other notable names Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Terry Bradshaw, Alex Smith and Michael Vick. Some have had productive careers, but one would argue that Eli Manning may have been one of the top first overall picks ever.

So will Jameis take the leap this season and be the player the Buccaneers need him to be, or will he be another tale of a player who never reached his potential?

Year four history

If a quarterback is going to be successful in the NFL, by year four he has mostly put it all together. Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a 14-2 record in his fourth year, although he only played in one game his rookie year. Aaron Rodgers had the luxury of sitting behind Brett Favre for three years, while his fourth year was his first as “the” guy, it was what one would expect from a young QB starting for the first time. His 6-10 record wasn’t bad, but it was his fifth season when everything really clicked.

Sam Bradford only played in seven games in his fourth season. And former NFL MVP Cam Newton had a 5-8-1 record following a 12-4 campaign. Only Rodgers threw for more yards than Winston, of the quarterbacks I mentioned. Rodgers wasn’t a rookie though when he did what he did. One could argue that had he not hurt his shoulder, Winston would have had three consecutive 4,000 yard passing seasons.

All the tools needed to succeed

One would argue, Winston has the best receiver corps of another other 4th year quarterback. The only quarterback mentioned with a comparable wide receiver corps would be Aaron Rodgers. In his fourth season he had Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jordy Nelson.

Jameis will have Mike Evans, who is proving to be an elite wide receiver in the NFL, and Desean Jackson, who is still probably one of the fastest and best deep threat WR’s in the NFL. Add in Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin to the mix and there is no reason why the Bucs can’t make the playoffs. Obviously Jameis and the offense alone can’t win EVERY game, but with the defensive additions, it should make Jameis’ job A LOT easier.

Crystal ball time

He will once again reach the 4,000 yard mark — the third time in four seasons, and his touchdown to interception rate will be much improved. Expect him to flirt with 35 touchdowns with maybe 12 to15 interceptions. The Bucs will get a wild card spot behind the NFC South winner — Atlanta Falcons or New Orleans Saints.

Jameis and the Bucs will save Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht’s jobs by getting the team to the postseason. His play in his fourth season as a pro will also earn him a new contract with the Buccaneers. Will it be a “monster” deal? Not at all. I don’t see him getting Matt Ryan or Matthew Stafford type money, but he will get a nice pay raise.


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