Can Jameis Winston be considered among elite quarterbacks in NFL?

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 27: Jameis Winston
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 27: Jameis Winston /

Jameis Winston is in the middle of his third season leading the Tampa Bay Bucs – is it time he gets mentioned among the best in the NFL?

When you ask most people who are the elite quarterbacks in the NFL right now, names like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and a couple more are usually the first ones mentioned. However, when you take a look at some of the stats through the first third of the 2017 season, it might be time that Jameis Winston – the former FSU star quarterback now leading the Tampa Bay Bucs – gets mentioned.

Through his first two seasons leading the Bucs, Winston has gone for over 4,000 yards passing each season while also helping the team go from seven wins his first year to nine last season, their first winning campaign since 2010. Through four games this season, Winston is on pace to have another season above that number.

That number is also why Jameis Winston should be in the conversation. Thanks to the first game of the season against the Miami Dolphins being postponed, Winston has only played four games while most of the best quarterbacks have played five, which is why his numbers don’t look as good through this point.

Right now, Jameis Winston ranks 14th in total passing yards (1,198) – which if you use his 300 yard per game average so far to give him a fifth game would move him to 4th in the NFL right now behind Brady, Carson Wentz and Carson Palmer. Even if he only got the number of yards the Dolphins have been averaging giving up in the air (234 YPG), Winson would rank 5th in passing yards.

That 300 yards per game average ranks Winston at third in the NFL behind Brady and Palmer while he ranks 13th in total QB rating and right now has an improved completion percentage over last season.

Ultimately, what is keeping some from putting Jameis Winston in the elite category is both turnovers (so far three interceptions and three fumbles this season) and the lack of playoff success in his short career. With many preseason experts putting the Bucs in the playoffs this season, a 2-2 start needs to be turned around quickly if Winston is going to get the love he deserves.

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What will determine Jameis Winston’s place is how he does in the big game. Of the remaining nine opponents, Winston and the Bucs will face three of the top nine pass defenses entering this week while also facing three ranked 22nd or worse. It isn’t how Winston will do against those teams that will help his resume…it’s how he does against that first group and getting Tampa Bay to the postseason.