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Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston (5) pose for a photo during the NCAA college football media day in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher may be the pre-eminent quarterback coach in college football. He has had eight quarterbacks drafted to the NFL since 2001, works with reigning Heisman winner Jamies Winston and two of his former Seminole disciples are expected to start for other major college programs this year. (AP Photo/Phil Sears, File)

It’s not often that a Heisman-winning quarterback slips out of the first round of the NFL draft but that may be the fate awaiting Florida State signal-caller Jameis Winston.

Already carrying a checkered history as a redshirt sophomore, Winston’s latest antics caused him to be suspended for Florida State’s game against top 25-ranked Clemson on Sept. 20. Anxious to play, Winston actually warmed up prior to the game in full pads before returning to the field in just his jersey and street clothes. The 6-foot,4-inch Winston exploded onto the college football scene last year and appeared to be a surefire lock for not only the first round but maybe even a potential No. 1 overall selection. But after a rape allegation, a shoplifting charge and his recent school outbursts, is Winston still a first-round quarterback come draft time? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.

Green: With a national championship title and Heisman Trophy in his collection, Winston only has to steer clear of further trouble to find himself in the first round of the draft either next year or the following season. His mishaps have been black eyes to the university, but his performance has pushed Florida State back to prominence after a slew of down years. Talent can often outweigh idiotic behavior, and Winston definitely possesses the moxie and skillset to play professionally on Sundays. Another top-10 finish by the Seminoles and a productive campaign from Winston, and all is forgiven. If he decides to return to school for a fourth year, that would put even more distance between him and a checkered start—and that should be enough to make him a high-round selection.

Riley: Winston’s best bet would be to return to school for another season, because with the NFL’s very public troubles this season, he would most likely be a forgotten man next May. Given the heat placed on Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL, any general manager trying to explain his selection of Winston is going to be met with ridicule. Domestic violence has been the topic of discussion over the last few weeks, and asking a man who was accused of rape a couple of years ago to be the face of any franchise could be suicide from a public relations standpoint. Winston should play it safe and opt for the 2016 draft—because after his latest incident, there aren’t too many teams that are going to risk their franchise on his type of character. Depending on what happens with Goodell and how the NFL’s climate shifts, even 2016 could be a stretch.

Green: Players have arrived in the NFL over the last few seasons with fewer accolades and more red flags than Winston. Despite where the NFL could be headed as it tries to protect its image, there’s going to be a place for Winston in the first round. He plays a position too important to ignore, no matter the surrounding issues. Ask the Cleveland Browns or Jacksonville Jaguars or even my Baltimore Ravens how important the quarterback position is. Teams spend years, sometimes decades, trying to find a guy to cement into the position. You can say what you want about Winston, but another huge campaign will be all he needs to fall back into the good graces of NFL scouts and become a lock for the first round. His position is too important to let his stock free-fall. The kid can really play quarterback. He looks like Tom Brady from the pocket. There’s no way this guy doesn’t go first overall in the draft whenever he decides to leave Florida State.

Riley: Winston’s position puts even more emphasis on his character in the new age of the NFL. You’re going to see changes galore in how the NFL evaluates and punishes players for wrongdoing. And as history has proven, players with a checkered college past often turn into troubled NFL stars. When you add money, groupies and yes-men to the equation, trouble is bound to happen. The quarterback position is such a very delicate decision for a franchise. The wrong decision can set a team back years, and I just can’t see any general manager with a first-round pick willing to gamble on Winston’s character.

Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk