Twenty-three days.

For many what has seemed like years, now comes down to just 23 days, as the Buccaneers will be on the clock for one of the most important decisions in franchise history. Tampa Bay has the No. 1 overall pick for the first time since 1987 and their decision will have an impact on the organization for years to come. The Buccaneers are doing their due diligence, despite what many feel is a foregone conclusion, with Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston being the choice on April 30.
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But if the Bucs have made up their mind on Winston, they are going to the extreme to still keep people guessing. On Tuesday morning, head coach Lovie Smith, general manager Jason Licht and and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter boarded a corporate jet en route to Oregon for a private workout with former Ducks star and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Mariota had a stellar career at Oregon, culminating in leading his team to the first ever college playoff championship game against Ohio State. The shy native Hawaiian put up outstanding numbers and has impeccable character, something that no one disputes when comparing him with Winston. But questions has arisen based on the scheme win which he played in for Chip Kelly then Mark Helfrich. How soon will Mariota be ready to play? How much of his success was based on the uptempo spread concepts that the Ducks used during Mariota’s career? Part of the private workout being done by the Bucs is to answer some of those questions.

But the evaluation won’t be completed when they finish up in Oregon. The Bucs will then turn around and head to Tallahassee on Wednesday for a private workout with Winston. Without some of the character concerns with Winston, most national writers and draft experts agree Winston would easily be the easy choice. But the concerns can’t be ignored. Investing an overall No. 1 pick and millions of dollars on a player that potentially could be the face of the franchise for the next decade is something that has to be thoroughly vetted. The Bucs have spent a ton of money and hundreds of hours investigating Winston, including interviewing numerous people from Tallahassee to Bessemer, Alabama where Winston is from. So far it appears all has checked out, as Smith, Lovie and maybe more importantly – the Glazers – have all publicly stated they are fine with Winston being a future Buccaneer.bucsplane

With the team attending the pro days for both players, and then having private workouts with both, the team will then start finalizing their decision on what quarterback will be leading the team next fall in Raymond James Stadium. Again, many assume the decision has already been made, and it very will could have been, but if so, the Buccaneers aren’t tipping their hand.

Twenty-three days and counting. For most Bucs fans – and probably many in the organization – it can’t come soon enough.

– Photos used inside article are courtesy of the Buccaneers

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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georgehicks
georgehicks
6 years ago

Well Iam glad that Tampa is spending this much time with Mariota and Winston. It reminds me of the movie Draft Day. Here is my seniaro;If there is still some red flags surround Jameis Winston. Then If I was the GM and the coach I would skip Jameis Winston and shock everyone in Marcus Mariota. If Tampa stays at #1 pick and pick the qb the kid from Oregeon than Glen would be the qb until Mariota is ready in 2015. It would make teams scrambing and Tampa would still be in the driver seat. After the first pick tampa… Read more »

georgehicks
georgehicks
6 years ago

Buc fans I mean April 30,2015 not August 30th.Alson if Mariota is selecting with pick #1. Then Tenn would take Winston at #2 or would he fall!Go Bucs again.

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

If the trip out west is part of ‘ the smokescreen ‘- shouldn’t the Bucs take a showy look at hundley or another QB to give the opening to drafting away from the two top QBs? I figure the apparent lack of interest in JW is not that teams don’t like him but more feel there is no way he slips past Tampa…mariota seems to continue his slip in some high profile mocks yet it is crickets with Winston…

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  cremdonado
6 years ago

At least we both agree that it has been crickets with Winston relative to all the trade talk for Mariota. We just have different opinions on what those crickets mean. I think that other teams love Winston as a player but don’t want to be married to him. If draft picks were 1-year deals I would envision Winston being a lot more popular with other teams and may have ended up being our #1 pick.

grafikdetail
grafikdetail
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

ROFL

BucWild02
BucWild02
6 years ago

The last phase of the job interview. It will be interesting to hear about all of this after the draft goes down. One question though…Any chance the Bucs take Cutler and the Bears first and second for the #1 overall pick? The old Chicago regime was so concerned that Lovie would get Cutler they signed him to an enormous contract the day after Lovie was hired. That old regime is gone and Cutler played miles below his contract last year.

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  BucWild02
6 years ago

“Reunited and it feels so good, reunited ’cause we understood, There’s one perfect fit and sugar this one is it”…But seriously, think about it…Cutler, #7 DE/WR, #34 OT/OG, #39 OT/OG, #65 WR/RB. That’s plugging a lot of holes and your QB is clean off the field with little or no learning curve. Some of Cutler’s best years were with Lovie. The Bucs could address all major needs in the first 3 rounds.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  BucWild02
6 years ago

That might be the worst idea I’ve ever seen. Cutler is pure garbage and a head case. While he’s clean off of the field , on the field hes a mess. I’d rather have mariota than him and that speaks volumes for me.

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  cgmaster27
6 years ago

Cgmaster-WInston is ofter compared to Cutler. Gunslinger. Risk taker. Last year, in the pros and not college, Cutler threw for 3800+ yards, had 28tds, 18 ints, 66% completions and is from a system that features two big WR’s going long. Now I’m not saying that I WANT the Bucs to trade for Cutler, but to this front office and coaching staff, it may make a heck of a lot of sense, even if you don’t get it. Look at who Lovie has brought in. McCown was named the starter the second he signed(for 10 million.) Major Wright, Chris Conte, Henry… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  BucWild02
6 years ago

I do agree that Lovie has a thing for his ex players no doubt. The two things I hate most about him is his enormous contract and his body language on the field is horrible. He almost seems disconnected at times. I will agree with the gunslinger comparison but just don’t think cutler is a good teammate and that’s something I think winston excels at.

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  BucWild02
6 years ago

cgmaster-good point about Cutler not being a great teammate. As mentioned, I don’t necessarily support the move, just connecting dots considering Lovie’s recent history. If I try to put a positive spin on it, I think the Bucs get a ton of talent in the draft in rounds 1, 2, and 3 if they pulled the trigger and you get a known commodity in Cutler-head case and all. He had the 17th highest QB rating last year and it wasn’t a great year for him. All that being said, I would definitely be happy if the Bucs stayed put and… Read more »

georgehicks
georgehicks
6 years ago

I think if Tampa could swing that deal. And then select Brett Hundley with Chicago no#7 pick then Tampa could then trade Glen for a pick later in draft. I like it! Didn’t Lovie Smith had something to do with Culter!

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  georgehicks
6 years ago

Hurley is a second round pick at best George my good man.That would be as bad as ej Manuel getting selected in the first round. Just way to much of a reach for him.

macabee
macabee
6 years ago

If anybody is interested in seeing Marcus Mariota at Gruden’s Football Camp, it airs tonight on ESPN2 7:00pm. This program and NFLN GameChangers may be your only opportunity to see him work out. No media is allowed at NFL team private workouts.

macabee
macabee
Reply to  macabee
6 years ago

Here is an excerpt from tonight. If you do look in tonight, see if Mariota has command of the huddle and if he has difficulty calling a play. Notice his accuracy. Hawaii’s newspaper complained that Gruden seemed irritated with Mariota, see if you can detect this. Enjoy!

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12495577

pinkstob
pinkstob
6 years ago

One thing I thought about yesterday that bears repeating since we haven’t debated it in a while is what type of offense the Bucs will run in 2015. The article referenced whether Mariota’s success was due to the uptempo spread offense and it certainly helped. The thing that I’m least sure about regarding these QB’s and who we will pick is what offense we will run next year. I could see it going either way. Of all the interviews PR has referenced on these QB’s the one that I think hit the nail on the head was Joe Barry (I… Read more »

e
e
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

Yours is a fair assessment, Pink. But, I look at all of the playoff teams and their success over the last 10 years, and it’s mostly traditional pocket passing systems with a few exceptions. Most of these uptempo offenses seem to blossom and fade quickly once D coordinators learn to defend it. e

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

Pink, Considering how much the Glazers wanted to hire Chip Kelly(only to be rejected) and then ended up settling for Greg Schiano and the nightmare that followed, is it possible that the Bucs take Mariota because he’s a great player that keeps Chip Kelly from his prized pupil? To your point, it is a copy-cat league and Kelly’s offense has been top ten every year in the league. Why couldn’t Koetter implement it? Who better to lead that offense than the best college QB to ever run it? Intriguing.

Roland
Roland
Reply to  BucWild02
6 years ago

Yeah, Green Bay and New England are silly for running up tempo O’s.
NOT.

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  BucWild02
6 years ago

BucWild02, I agree with you 200% This scenario actually crossed my mind about 3 weeks ago but by the time I had gotten around a computer and came to PR I had forgotten about it. You summed it up better than I could have. I believe the Glazers are still pissed at Chip Kelly for backing out of coming to Tampa. The way I understand it Kelly got a call from Gruden (they had already become friends because Gruden loves Oregon’s system) and he told Kelly that the Glazers won’t spend big on free agents and warned him against coming… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

Maybe we’ll try to resurrect the Run and Shoot and hire Mouse Davis, get rid of the Dunkaneers and bring back the Smurfs that were once in vogue. Fads come in and out of favor. But one thing has remained constant. It’s good to have a drop back passer. I do wish Winston could run like Mariota.

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

The spread offense is nothing more than the Wildcat was a few years ago, a new way to challenge defenses and after awhile they will adjust and we will be back to the one thing that has never changed, drop back passing. Theres always some new wrinkle thats supposed to change the way we play the game and over time they all fade and we return to the norm. That said Chip Kellys offense is dynamic but I think people fail to mention the great pieces he’s had around his QB’s that really make the system go. Speed receivers, explosive… Read more »

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
Reply to  stlbucsfan
6 years ago

Also worth noting the QBs that Chip Kelly has had success with on the NFL level are not scrambling QBs, the QB he traded for this offseason was also not a mobile QB. While we sit and assume he’s going to move mountains to draft Mariota nothing about his NFL track record would suggest that’s even the type of QB he’s looking for to run his Pro style version of this offense.

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  stlbucsfan
6 years ago

Stlbucsfan, the Wildcat never produced a top 5 offense in back to back years in the NFL. Second, look at the age of all the immobile successful QB’s in the league. How can you say it’s the one thing that has never changed? There hasn’t been a successful one that has come into the league in 7 years. Brady (37), P.Manning (39), Rivers (33), E.Manning (34), Roethlisberger (33), Palmer (35), Flacco (30), Ryan (29). There hasn’t been a successful immobile QB drafted since 2008 and as I’ve said before that’s due to the evolution of NFL pass rushers. There is… Read more »

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

I forgot to add A. Rodgers in the successful mobile QB list. He’s 31.

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

True the wildcat never produced back to back top 5 offenses but neither has Chip Kellys offense in the NFL with the type of QB you keep describing. Rodgers had time to learn, Tannenhill has been up and down, Kap regressed last year, RGIII who you left out has regressed, Newton has been up and down, Wilson has enjoyed success but I believe he’s in the right place and is more thrower than passer given adequate weapons and Luck is another passer who is forced to run more due to inadequate offensive line play. Mariota is not the QB that… Read more »

magoobee
magoobee
6 years ago

If the Bucs are going to draft Winston, they should sign him before the draft. That way they can negotiate in clauses about behavior. After the draft, the power shifts to Winston.

e
e
6 years ago

The Bucs have to do their due diligence on Mariota. I’m assuming that Winston’s the pick, but if something unforeseen happens, the Bucs have to be ready. If Winston was undraftable, for some reason, then I would trade out of the #1 spot, myself. I would bank on Glennon before Mariota. e

Horse
Horse
6 years ago

Pinkstob; I appreciate your determination not to give up on Mariaota. I just don’t see what you are seeing. Winston is by far the one who can survive in the NFL. He is already use to taking hits and isn’t rattled by it.

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  Horse
6 years ago

Horse-your comment about Winston being used to taking hits reminds me of the movie”Far and Away” starring Tom Cruise. Remember? He was a bare knuckle brawler in an era when people used to stand still and punch each other until one guy was left standing. He became a champ because he was different. He used movement and athleticism to his advantage. I know, its just a movie. I thought it was funny enough to share though!

Buctebow
Buctebow
6 years ago

I bank on Melman (MG8) heading back to Madagascar with Alex and the penguins. That will make me happy.

georgehicks
georgehicks
6 years ago

I’VS SEEN SOME GREAT COMMENTS. But we need to see four seniaros #1 draft Winston,no#2 draft Mariota, no#3 draft DL Leonard Williams #4 Trade down and get more draft choices for this year and then concentrate on the season. Go Bucs

tjhuth
tjhuth
6 years ago

Mark, I am curious whether or not the any owners are going to attend JWs workout. Since they are absent from MMs, it might tell us something.

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

Pink-if we end up drafting mariota- the guy owes you a signed jersey or something for your support…I like Marcus and wish him success in the NFL but I just don’t see it happening in Tampa…there are just too many holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball for a project QB who needs transition time…as good as Mariota is- we are not built to his strengths… Winston might have character issues but it also seems like the Bucs brass are more comfortable with throwing him to the wolves…Jameis will be blamed and vilified if he chunks it-… Read more »

diablo5597
diablo5597
6 years ago

If the Bucs pick Winston with all his red flags, both off the field and all his interceptions and then he fails that would run the coaches out of town way more than if Mariota failed.

cremdonado
cremdonado
6 years ago

Diablo- that’s where I think the Glazers come in and take the hit- and give the old ‘risk vs reward’ defense and that they had to take the chance to try and spark the franchise…he will end up being marked as yet another Buc blunder and we go on from there…if the defense also implodes- then Lovie might have to worry a bit…coach market is thin- that’s how we got schiano, radio and Lovie…

chefboho
chefboho
6 years ago

I saw this morning that we are having another private workout with Jameis winston, but I’m sure it’s just another smoke screen eh pink my friend haha. Just busting ur chops a bit

pinkstob
pinkstob
6 years ago

Stlbucsfan, what successful mobile NFL QB is available for C. Kelly to acquire? That’s why he traded for Bradford, at least he ran a fast paced spread scheme at Oklahoma, there just wasn’t any read-option incorporated into it. Stating that he thinks Mariota is the best QB in the draft suggests to me that if Kelly could acquire a good mobile QB he would. You say some of the guys I listed are up and down but not more so than Rivers, Flacco, Palmer, E.Manning, Roethlisberger and Ryan. They’re all up and down but all have had success at some… Read more »

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

He had Michael Vick when he first got to Philly and what happened, he exposed him to more hits than needed and he couldn’t stay healthy. Now you think it’s ironic or chance that he’s only had pocket guys since then and I think its a guy who saw that hits add up quicker in the NFL than they do in the Pac 12 so he changed what he was looking for at the position. To your point that all Chip had was traditional QB options thats completely false, why couldn’t he have drafted a mobile QB instead of Barkley?… Read more »

pinkstob
pinkstob
6 years ago

I said what “successful” mobile NFL QB was available to C. Kelly. Vick was already washed up when Kelly got there. Vick has opened himself up to injury no matter who was coaching him or what the system was, not by running but by looking for contact instead of sliding. RGIII is not a successful NFL QB so why trade for him? Be it the draft or free agency there haven’t been great mobile options at QB since Kelly came to the Eagles. There have been mobile guys, but not great decision makers like Mariota. His decision making is what… Read more »

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
Reply to  pinkstob
6 years ago

So let me get this straight the guy who has lead his team to the playoffs in RGIII is not successful but Bradford who has never played a full NFL season or NFL playoff game is successful? Mark Sanchez came in with a record of being careless with the football and looked awful prior to landing in Philly, so Im rather curious how you define success. As for the “up and down” immobile guys like Flacco, Eli and Big Ben i’ll deal with those rollercoasters seasons bc as you see when its up it usually leads to a deep playoff… Read more »

BucWild02
BucWild02
6 years ago

After thinking about why the Bucs would go watch Mariota one last time 1100 miles away I have come to three possibilities :

1. Because they plan on drafting him and basing the new offensive system around him.
2. Because it keeps his value sky high so it costs Philadelphia as much as possible to acquire him.
3. Because it creates leverage against Winston to sign a contract with lots of character clauses before the actual draft.

Not a smoke screen, but still a pretty solid play no matter how you look at it.

deeznuts
deeznuts
6 years ago

Mayock on Mariota: “He reads combination routes, he takes tremendous care of the football and he wins games.”

Mayock ranks Mariota #1 QB prospect this season now ahead of Winston.

cgmaster reply:

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
Reply to  deeznuts
6 years ago

The same Mayock that had Johnny Manziel as his #1 QB last year? LOL Well that carries a lot of weight.

ehinote
ehinote
6 years ago

Mariota is not going to make it in the NFL under any system other than Chip Kelly’s and that system will not be the end all offense. Defenses will figure it out and it will be only be used as a situational package. Mariota’s does not have the intangibles to run a pro style offense consistently. Jameis is our best hope.