He won the Heisman Trophy and a national championship before he was drafted No. 1 overall by an NFC South team. He then made the Pro Bowl as a rookie while helping his team improve from 2-14 to 6-10.
Sounds a lot like Cam Newton, right?
Well, that's all true about Jameis Winston, too.
Those similarities, and the fact many still blindly analogize players with the same skin color, will likely keep Newton and Winston comparisons coming for as long as they're each in the same division.
But they're as dissimilar as they are similar.
"I think they're really different," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Thursday, "and a big part of it the style of play."
The biggest difference is how they use their legs.
In Newton's first two seasons, he rushed for 1,447 yards and 22 touchdowns. Winston, meanwhile, has totaled 360 rushing yards with seven scores. But neither is afraid of contact, and sometimes they're the initiators.
"He's as much of a football player as anybody on the field," Newton said of Winston. "It's little things that I see and kind of laugh about, but when you see a quarterback handing the ball off and running down field trying to get a block, that's kind of unheard of. But that's him."
While the Bucs aren't as dependent on a running quarterback as the Panthers have been, Winston's been asked to do more with his arm. Through his first 31 games, he's averaging more passes per game (20.5) than Newton did (18.4) from 2011-12, and that's led to more touchdowns (Winston 49, Newton 40) and interceptions (Winston 32, Newton 29).
But there are a number of categories that show striking similarities:
|1st 2 Seasons||Comp %||Yds/Gm||Int %||Rating||Wins|
"I think it's a similar ascent," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said this week.
"Jameis is a tremendous talent. He's a great leader, but he's still learning. People tend to forget that Jameis could easily be playing in a bowl game this week."
Set to turn 23 on Jan. 6, Winston is 52 months younger than Newton. And as the reigning NFL MVP wraps up his most disappointing season, Winston is just 267 yards away from passing Colts quarterback Andrew Luck for most pass yards in a player's first two seasons. But as we've learned by watching Newton's development, the road for a young quarterback is often littered with unexpected speed bumps.
Still, while the Falcons have an MVP candidate in Matt Ryan and Drew Brees is winding down a Hall of Fame career in New Orleans, the NFC South's other two quarterbacks are on potentially fascinating parallel tracks.
"I expect a lot of growth from him from year to year to year," Newton said, "and it's just going to bring the best out of me. The better he is, it's just going to force me to get better."