The NFL Draft isn’t until April 30 but the early topic of conversation has been the comparisons of Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. The Duck’s superstar has yet to declare but most assume Mariota will move onto the NFL following Monday night’s college football championship game against Ohio State.

On Thursday, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly joined the Colin Cowherd radio show to discuss the two and gave a glowing recommendation of both but said if he were choosing who to take with the first pick it would be Winston.

“I think one of the things that we’ve lost in college football is we get lost in all of these measurables,” Kelly said. “One of the huge measurables for me is football intelligence. He knows the game. He’s very smart. If I’m making that first pick and I need a quarterback, I’m taking Winston because he’s got football intelligence.

“I think he’s got a really good sense of the game. He understands time and place, he understands how momentum plays in, he’s not a robot, he’s not just an athlete out there. At the quarterback position, you want somebody who understands the game and understands the important plays that need to be made.

“Again, in the NFL, you’re going to have to manage through the pocket. There are very few Russell Wilson’s out there, and (Winston) can manage the pocket. I like him.”

While Kelly said he would choose Winston he also is impressed with Mariota.

“They can outscore you., (and) without (Marcus) Mariota at the quarterback position, they’re not the same team,” Kelly said. “So we’re still going to come back to, who is the player on the field for Oregon? It’s still the quarterback. He’s an outstanding quarterback, and defensively I think they’re better than people believe.”


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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 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
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6 years ago

Again, he’s a HC so he’s analyzing this from a football standpoint. Let’s hear some feedback from some people who operate on the business side of football. The woman who accused Winston of sexual assault is now suing FSU. Has anyone interviewed their administration and asked them whether they would rather have had Winston or Mariota? What about an anonymous GM who is drafting at the bottom of the 1st round who doesn’t have a horse in the race and can be perfectly honest?

6 years ago

A GM not will to take the best player available to help his team win will not be a GM for long. They have to be willing to do their home work and not rely on the media to do it for them.