Winston, who became the youngest player to win the Heisman Trophy when helping the Seminoles to lift the 2014 BCS National Championship, is the 32nd quarterback in NFL history to be selected first overall in the draft.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht spent most of his pre-draft time analyzing Winston, who has had his share of problems off the football field, but many, including one of the club’s ex-coaches, believe his outstanding talent overshadows the off the field troubles.
“Jameis Winston, say what you want, this young man has rare talent,” said former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, who worked with Winston as part of ESPN Gruden’s QB Camp pre-draft prospect series.
“He has incredible courage. He is at his best when they’re behind and the game is on the line. He almost thrives on adversity. It’s a credit to his mental toughness.
” … He’s just a kid, a third-year sophomore who has two years of eligibility left. Have some patience. I’m confident you’ll get one heck of a young talent.”
The club announced that the 21-year-old, who threw for a remarkable 7,964 yards and 65 touchdowns in his two seasons with Florida State, will wear jersey No. 3 for the Buccaneers.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans selected Oregon QB Marcus Mariota with the No. 2 overall pick on the night.
Mariota had an outstanding season for Oregon on his way to becoming the Ducks’ first Heisman Trophy winner and the first winner from the state of Hawaii.
On Thursday, he and Winston became the first Heisman Trophy winners to be selected with two overall picks in the draft.
Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the third overall pick.
The Oakland Raiders selected Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper No. 4 overall. This was the first time Raiders were picking a WR in the first round of the draft since 2009.