Sports Illustrated’s Peter King revealed the top five players on Tampa Bay’s 2015 draft board in this week’s Monday Morning QB column. King reported that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was atop the board, which wasn’t a surprise considering the Bucs selected the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner with the first overall pick in the draft on April 30.

USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams was listed second on the list in the MMQB column, followed by Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Georgia running back Todd Gurley.

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio StateWhen asked to comment about that list as depicted in King’s MMQB colum in an exclusive interview with PewterReport.com, Bucs general manager Jason Licht wasn’t sure how King obtained that list.

“I don’t know how [that got out],” Licht said.

The Bucs general manager didn’t recall discussing it or giving it to King during their interview last Friday at One Buccaneer Place.

“No, I don’t remember if I did to be honest with you,” Licht said.

What Licht does know is that it wasn’t the final Bucs’ draft board as he told PewterReport.com that Tampa Bay was going to draft a quarterback in 2015, not a defensive player. And the Bucs were not going to trade down from the number one pick.

Hypothetically if something happened prior to the draft to alter the team’s perception of Winston and lead the Bucs in another direction, which player would Tampa Bay pick? Licht answered that question and indicated that Mariota would have been the choice due to the overwhelming need to select a franchise quarterback with the first overall pick.

“There is a very good chance that would have been the case,” Licht said. “That board [in MMQB] – that wasn’t necessarily the order in that we were going to draft. That was not necessarily a current ranking. We did like Marcus. We did think Marcus would have a chance. We were comfortable with Marcus.”

Although Mariota wound up being the second-rated player on Tampa Bay’s draft board at the end of the process, Winston was rated higher and it wasn’t a close call between the two quarterbacks for the organization.

“We ended up liking Marcus,” Licht said. “I think he has a good chance of being a good quarterback. His leadership style is definitely different. It’s unique. I can’t pinpoint any quarterback that is like him. I think there is a fire within him, a competitor within him. It’s just different. We just really liked Jameis.

“This is a monumental decision and Lovie [Smith] had to like [Winston], which he did. The owners had to be on board with the number one overall pick, which they were. The staff has to like him – Dirk Koetter and Mike Bajakian had to like him, which they did. We all did. We had to take a shot. We all liked Jameis.”

Marcus Mariota photo by: Getty Images

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

13 COMMENTS

  1. Not so surprising Mariota was the player the Bucs collectively ranked second based on his talent and their needs. They absolutely needed a QB. I find it interesting that Licht said they intended to use the pick and not trade it, no matter what.

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  2. The no trade thing makes sense to anyone that was paying attention. Even when you consider the moves Lovie is prone to making, it was crystal we were getting a QB from the get go.

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  3. Sorry… But Licht didn’t say MM was 2nd on the board, only that if it wasn’t JW it would be MM because it was going to be a QB.

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    • correct

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  4. On a side note, since it’s not on here or anywhere else for that matter. I have attached a link to a video of Jameis standing out in front of one-Buc shaking the hand of every rookie that waled in the front door. And THAT is why they took him over Marcus. They wanted his leadership style more. That also goes along with what Licht said.
    https://twitter.com/TBBuccaneers/status/596437309215494145

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    • I like that he signed quickly. That shows me that it’s not about the money… He want to get in and start working.

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    • I saw it already, looks like he’s ready to work

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  5. Glad we didn’t reach for a need and draft Martiota

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  6. And the entire staff will be fired in 2 years and the Yucs will still be stuck with Winston

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    • get the hell out here in root for another team then

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  7. I’ve believe by drafting Winston Crab Legs sistutations and all was the correct pick. The big quest I have is what is there a chance that Tampa brings in another qb in the next week or so.Go Bucs

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  8. This makes sense, a QB will have a bigger impact than any single defensive player. MM would have required a little tweaking of the playbook to start but I think Koetter would’ve found a way to make it work. That being said, I’m 110% on board with Winston and am a huge fan of his attitude thus far. Go Bucs!

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