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If Winston plays well, the case of the crab legs will be forgotten


Folks tend to overreact in the immediate aftermath of new information, which is why it’s always smart to wait a while before adopting an initial impression as a long-term plan of action.

In the immediate aftermath of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s citation for shoplifting crab legs (or are you just happy to see me?), multiple scouts have told Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report that the incident has caused dramatic harm to Winston’s draft stock.

While there’s no reason to doubt Freeman’s claim that the scouts currently are saying these things, there’s also no reason to give the things being said much credence. Winston still has at least one more year of college football to play before he’s eligible to be drafted. By 2015 or 2016, his theft of crab legs will be as relevant as Cam Newton’s laptop misadventures were three years ago.

As the scouts who chimed in to Freeman tell it, the sexual assault allegation that possibly fizzled amid a botched investigation doesn’t hurt Winston as much as the crab legs. They may believe that now, as they prepare to make like Santa’s elves on December 26 and start working on the next class of draft picks. But there’s a long way to go -- and a long time to get there -- between now and next year’s draft.

Without condoning what he did or applauding his strategy for saying there’s no excuse but then citing “youthful ignorance” as the official excuse, Winston is a 20-year-old who did a dumb thing. Anyone reading this was a 20-year-old who did dumb things, is a 20-year-old who does dumb things, or will be a 20-year-old who will do dumb things. People grow, they develop, and they change; if teams are going to give players who have done far worse things a second chance, teams can’t get too indignant about a 20-year-old kid who applied the five-finger discount to a ten-legged crustacean.

Any scout who refuses to allow his opinion to grow, develop, or change as the weeks and months pass between now and whenever Winston is drafted could end up making a huge mistake on a guy who could be a franchise quarterback at the next level.

Or maybe the explanation is that the draft smokescreens now begin more than a full year in advance.