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Lovie Smith on Jameis Winston’s off-field issues: We’re OK with where he is

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston

AP

The Buccaneers are expected to take a quarterback with the first pick in the draft, with Florida State’s Jameis Winston topping most lists when it comes to on-field readiness to start in the NFL.

There are off-field questions regarding Winston after a host of issues during his college career, including allegations of sexual assault. Winston was not charged by authorities and was cleared in a code of conduct hearing held by the school, two things that Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith cited Wednesday as reasons why the team would be comfortable making Winston the first pick of the draft and the face of their franchise.

“From what I know right now, yeah, we’re OK with where he is,” Smith said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s been accused of a crime. There’s an allegation. He went through our court system. I have faith in our court system. He went through the school justice system. He was cleared. He went through our court system and he was cleared. Exonerated. What else can you do?”

Smith said the team is still doing its homework on Winston and there are on-field workouts to come, so it’s premature to start making jerseys with anyone’s name on the back at this point. Character questions are the biggest red flag about Winston, though, and his chances of going No. 1 look a lot better if the Bucs continue to be OK with everything on that front.