New Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is one of only two rookies (along with Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota) who’s already playable in Madden NFL 15. And EA Sports spent time with the No. 1 pick from the 2015 NFL Draft to talk “X’s and O’s” and scan his mug to get it into Madden NFL 16.
We caught up with Winston during the NFLPA Rookie Premier in Los Angeles, which is where EA Sports player ratings guru Donny Moore revealed his Madden 16 ratings. It turns out Winston spends a lot of time “hitting the sticks” and taking on any comers on the virtual gridiron.
The rookie even credits the game franchise with helping him learn the on-field sport. Read on to find out why.
What’s a favorite Madden video game memory you can share from growing up?
Man, in 2004 with Michael Vick on the cover, I just used to murder people with Vick. I think one game he gave me like 400 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. I used to kill people with him.
What are your thoughts about how far the game has come since then?
I love it because Madden was always one of my favorite games, and I like seeing improvements and everything with the graphics and seeing people’s faces. Now I get the opportunity to see my face on it, so it’s pretty crunk.
Did you already get to play Madden 15 when they put you in the current game?
I haven’t played with me yet, but I still play all the time.
Where does being in Madden fit into everything in your football career?
It’s just like getting drafted, man. All my life I just wanted to be on this game because it’s part of football. I’m happy to finally be on Madden. People get to play with me. And I’m probably going to boost my ratings up a little bit.
What are your thoughts about your ratings in Madden NFL 16?
Oh, they’re cool. They’re going to go up as the season goes on, but one thing about Madden you can always go in there and boost your stuff up, so I’m going to put them where they should be right now.
What are your thoughts about kids being able to play as you in Madden?
Oh, man, I think it’s a blessing because kids are going to be using me, especially the good kids that can play real good. They can be using me like I used Michael Vick. Not probably with the running-type stuff, but they’re going to throw with me a lot, and it’s good being a kid and playing this game. You get to play with your idol, so you actually get to be your idol for a game, so it’s pretty good.
Madden 16 adds “air supremacy” to the passing game and catches like Odell Beckham Jr performed last year are in the game. What are your thoughts about that part of the offensive game?
It’s huge in the NFL or college or any type of sport when you have a lot of special plays. It’s good, but back in the day when you tried to throw deep passes in Madden, cornerbacks would go over there and pick the thing off. But now with this in the new Madden game, it’s going to be awesome. It’s going to allow receivers to do their thing.
How good are you at the Madden video game?
Oh, I’m not that good, but I like to compete. I consider myself a competitor, so if anybody wants to play me, I’m always ready.
Since Madden does focus so much on the quarterback position, did you ever feel there was an advantage for you playing the video game?
Absolutely. See the thing about me, I always can score, but I can’t really stop nobody on defense. They can’t stop my offense, but usually can stop me on defense if I don’t throw an interception.
Draft Champions is a new mode in Madden 16 that lets you go through an accelerated draft process and then play with that team. What are your thoughts having just gone through the NFL Draft?
Any time a player gets a chance to be a GM, he feels like he’s good. So this is going to be great, man. Of course, I’m going to drive myself and I’m going to drive my guys from Florida State Rashad Greene and Nick O’Leary. So I’m probably going to be a little bit biased, but it’s going to be good though.
Since there are variations of real playbooks in Madden, do you think rookies entering the NFL can use Madden in any way?
I think preparation. You can probably see the coverages better on Madden than you can see on film because they disguise it so much. But just for the basics of coverages and blitzes, you can get a good gist of it from Madden.
Do you feel when you were younger that Madden helped you at all with real football?
Absolutely. Because I used to go and learn about the coverages and stuff. I actually succeeded on Madden by learning things like if I pick this count, it’s Cover 2, and this one is Cover 3. And the only thing that is different is the corners because they were tough on Madden. The safety and cornerbacks wouldn’t ever let you throw deep passes on play action. But other than that, everything was cool.
What advice would you give to someone who’s playing as the Bucs in the new game with you?
I’ll advise you to study the deep game. I’m going to connect with Vincent Jackson, you know what I’m saying? I want to go deep.
If you were in charge, what would you add to the next Madden game?
I think Madden is just a great game, man. It’s one of the only games I play. I don’t play 2K or anything else, other than trying to play FIFA. I’m not really that good at that, but I think it’s just a great game. Anything that they can add to Madden that makes it more realistic is good.