Derek Mason talks recruiting Jameis, NFL Draft prospects
Dante Fowler’s a “matchup nightmare” and Jameis Winston “makes players around him better.”
He’s not a professional scout by trade, but Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason knows how to assess talent and is well-versed concerning this month’s NFL Draft prospects.
Mason recently spoke with The Tennessean detailing his recruitment of Winston while on staff at Stanford and went in-depth on his up-close attention to division rival Fowler, a potential Top 5 selection at defensive end.
“He has leadership ability,” Mason told the newspaper. “He just makes guys around him better. He’s had an opportunity to show what his skill level is in the pocket, playing under center … When you look at his ability to throw the ball down the field, change plays at the line of scrimmage, he’s just in complete command of the offense. It feels right for him, like he’s a maestro directing an orchestra.”
Some outlets are reporting Winston to the Tampa Bay Bucs with the No. 1 pick is all but a done deal while others aren’t so sure. Mason has followed the careers of both potential top quarterbacks in the draft — Winston and Marcus Mariota — and says either would be an ideal fit from a leadership perspective.
“And the confidence you see from (Jameis), it’s not fake,” Mason continued. “And those characteristics, along with the talent, probably make him the closest thing that I’ve seen to Andrew Luck since Andrew Luck came out of college. He has a big arm, good presence, good game-manager, big-time finisher and he plays big in big games.”
At Stanford, Mason frustrated Mariota — and beat him twice — with complex defensive game plans featuring constant pressure and disguised coverages.
He calls the dual-threat signal caller the toughest quarterback he’s ever had to scheme against — and that includes a season’s worth of work in the SEC.
“He is tremendously gifted in terms of speed, size and athleticism, Mason said according to The Tennessean. “He is as smart as Jameis is in terms of being able to see defenses, and taking what the defense gives him. He won the Heisman because he was the best quarterback in college football last year, the best player.”
In his pre-draft assessment of Fowler, Florida’s top-notch pass rusher, Mason expects him to be drafted in the lottery.
“That Fowler, he’s a beast,” Mason said, whose team kept the Gators’ defensive MVP relatively quiet during a 34-10 loss last season. “He’s a matchup nightmare. He can do anything. Florida moved him everywhere — inside, outside, hand in the ground, upright. He can do it on many levels. He is going to be a top pick.”