Shaun King: ‘Not A Lot Of Personality, Charisma With Mariota’

NFL analyst Shaun King dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Tuesday to discuss the NFL Combine, but first, Gio and Jones had a bone to pick with him.

And by that, we of course mean they made fun of him.

In his most recent appearance on Gio and Jones, King said that he was 75 or 80 percent sure that Jameis Winston would return to Florida State for the 2015 season.

Within minutes, Winston declared for the draft.

Come on, Shaun!

“And you know what?” King said. “I can honestly 100 percent say right now – on my kids – that he was going back to Florida State. And I’m not sure what happened, but when I put that out there and that report got on, someone from that university – I’m not going to say who, but someone very high up – suggested that he should enter the NFL Draft. If you ever meet (Winston’s) dad – or him – ask him, was he initially coming back to Florida State? And I guarantee he’ll say yes.”

In any event, Winston has entered the draft and will likely be the first overall pick, this after performing more than admirably at the combine. Maybe his 40-yard-dash time (4.97 seconds) and vertical leap (28.5 inches) could have been a little better, but Winston put on a show throwing the football and charming NFL executives – virtually all of whom were meeting him for the first time.

“None of it surprised me,” King said. “I cover college football. For a lot of (people that were there), this (was) their first time getting to see a lot of these prospects. They don’t cover college football, but I do. I knew the kid’s talent level. I’ve met him a couple times, so I knew his charisma and his personality. But I was happy for him because first impressions matter. And for a large quantity of the media that was there at the combine, it’s their first time ever getting to meet Jameis in person, and I think they saw that the perception and the reality with him is a little farther apart than they assumed – and that’s a good thing.”

While Winston is a safe bet to be the first overall pick, the door hasn’t completely closed on Mariota, who showcased his athleticism and maturity in Indy.

“I thought Mariota did what we expected him to do,” King said. “He’s an elite athlete. He ran well, he jumped well, he’s a hard worker. He’s been working on trying to learn how to come from under center (and be a drop-back passer), so I thought he did exactly what I expected him to do. I think the media got to see the vast difference in personality between Mariota and Winston, and I think that was a plus for Winston. I think Mariota, even though he’s a good guy, he’s very bland. He’s very monotone. Not a lot of personality and charisma – and Winston’s the complete opposite.”

In the end, however, the combine isn’t the end-all, be-all for NFL coaches and executives. Rather, it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

“I just think it’s part of the information-gathering process,” King said. “I think it’s great for the NFL because they kind of have this year-round strategy where they strategically place their events. So it’s like from January to December – no matter what – you’re always into the NFL. And so, this is perfect timing for them and it gives them exposure, and that’s a good thing.

“But the good teams – the teams that are good at drafting, good at evaluating – the combine is just a part of the puzzle,” King continued. “It’s not going to ever override or overrule what they actually see with the player on film.”

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