While the football world awaits Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota’s decision on declaring for the 2015 NFL Draft, the debate on who will be the better pro prospect rages on. From a Bucs fan perspective it appears Mariota would be the preferred choice, but from a number of national writers and draft services it appears Winston has a slight edge.
NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks graded Winston higher than Mariota recently. In his breakdown Brooks wrote, “Winston remains the most pro-ready passer in college football. He is an exceptional pocket passer with big-time talent and valuable experience in a pro system. Winston plays the game in a style that translates easily to the next level; coaches can project how he will play in their system and quickly craft plans to get him on the field quickly as a pro. Although his character issues will raise red flags in most meeting rooms, there is no doubt in my mind that he is the better prospect right now.”
Former PewterReport.com editor Charlie Campbell now with Walterfootball.com also has Winston rated as the top quarterback in the draft saying, “As a prospect from a pure football perspective and ignoring the off-the-field issues, Winston is elite and in Andrew Luck’s ballpark as a quarterback prospect. Winston is a potential franchise quarterback who can lead his team to championships. Numerous sources from multiple teams agree that Winston is just a little bit behind Luck, but is a better prospect than Cam Newton, Sam Bradford or Matthew Stafford were when they came out and went No. 1 overall. The off-the-field issues are the things that could derail Winston from reaching his potential. However, one can be sure that some team is going to look past the off-the-field issues and take Winston early in the 2015 NFL Draft.”
Campbell was also very complimentary of Mariota, and said the team that ends up with Mariota is getting a special athlete. Campbell continued by saying, “WalterFootball.com knows some general managers who are skeptical of Mariota as a passer and his developing into a passer who can function out of the pocket. However, even those skeptics say that Mariota is tremendous off the field and love his humility. Across the league, some team officials who aren’t completely sold on Mariota feel he is worth developing and could turn into a great player. They say that Mariota has great upside. Mariota will be drafted early in the first round, and he is a worthy pick to become a potential special quarterback. However Mariota needs development, so it may not benefit him to start immediately.”
Rob Rang who writes for CBSSports.com said Mariota isn’t as good as his numbers suggested from the Rose Bowl and Winston isn’t as bad. “Other than a few overthrows early (including an uncharacteristic interception), Mariota was brilliant, accounting for exactly 400 yards of total offense and three touchdowns, including completing 26 of 36 passes for 338 yards. Of course, Mariota shouldn’t be faulted for the fact that his production is inflated by Oregon’s scheme. When plays broke down, for example, he showed off the combination of mobility, poise and vision that are critical for success in the NFL. His success in this attack, however, does make his projection to a more traditional NFL offense more difficult.
“Winston, on the other hand, consistently attempted (and made) NFL throws, showing terrific anticipation, ball placement and velocity on in- and out-breaking routes, alike. Just as important, he also showed leadership in consoling freshman running back Dalvin Cook (who lost two fumbles) and by attempting to rally his teammates as the game slid out of control. Given that this was the first game Winston lost at the collegiate level, scouts were curious to see how he would handle the disappointment. As it turns out, he handled it better than most of his teammates, at least shaking hands and congratulating Oregon players (including Mariota) after the game, rather than running off the field without the traditional postgame handshake as most of the Seminoles did.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter what Brooks, Campbell, or Rang think, as it the decision will come down to who general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith feel is the best choice to lead their franchise moving forward. And other options remain on the table such as trading the pick to another team (the media in Philadelphia feel Chip Kelly could make a push for the pick and Mariota). And of course both players have yet to declare for the draft and have until January 15 to make their decisions known to the NFL.
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 email@example.com
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