SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. DRAFT MARIOTA OR WINSTON OR TRADE THE PICK TO THE EAGLES?
With a 2-11 record, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in prime position to get the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and with it draft another franchise-type quarterback. A lot can happen with three games to go, but if Tampa Bay loses out and finishes 2-14 the team should have the No. 1 overall pick due to strength of schedule.
There is no doubt that the Bucs need a superstar quarterback, especially in a division where the team faces New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Carolina’s Cam Newton twice per year in the NFC South. But is there a superstar quarterback in this year’s draft class?
Is Oregon’s Marcus Mariota that guy or is he the second coming of Colin Kaepernick, who is struggling this season, as San Francisco is the third-place team in the NFC West division? Mariota’s gaudy statistics – 68.3 percent with 38 touchdowns and just two interceptions – are in part due to Oregon’s offensive scheme, which creates wide-open receivers. Mariota is not a very accurate passer in the pocket on mid-range and downfield throws. NFL scouts marvel at his arm and his athleticism, but wonder why he has just average pocket awareness, evidenced by 29 sacks.
Is Florida State’s Jameis Winston that guy or will off-field issues derail his career like they did Josh Freeman during his five years in Tampa Bay? Winston has the “it” factor as a quarterback and his second half heroics are legendary, but they are oftentimes created by his own first-half interceptions, which have put the Seminoles in the hole. Of Jameis’ eye-opening 17 interceptions, 13 have come in the first half. Will his penchant for turnovers and character concerns overshadow the fact that last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and national champion has yet to lose a game over the past two seasons?
There are no Carson Palmers, Eli Mannings or Andrew Lucks in this year’s draft, and that’s tough for a quarterback-needy team like Tampa Bay that has the first overall pick. The trick is to avoid drafting a Tim Couch, a David Carr or a JaMarcus Russell first overall, and sometimes the right quarterback is found later in the draft.
Donovan McNabb (second overall) and Daunte Culpepper (11th overall) proved to be better quarterbacks than Couch in the 1999 NFL Draft. David Garrard, a fourth-round draft pick in 2002, had more success in the NFL than Carr did.
It turns out that in 2007 there wasn’t a quarterback worth a damn – certainly not Russell, who was the first overall pick. But Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb, John Beck and others didn’t pan out, either. Some in the NFL scouting community are concerned that the 2015 NFL Draft may play out the same way unless some high-profile juniors like Michigan State’s Connor Cook, USC’s Cody Kessler and Notre Dame’s Everett Golson declare for the draft as UCLA’s Brett Hundley has indicated he will likely do.
If the Bucs conclude that neither Mariota nor Winston is worthy of the first overall draft pick, trading it and stockpiling additional selections in 2015 and beyond may be the way for a team with a lot of needs like Tampa Bay to go. While Mark Sanchez has found a career rebirth of sorts in Philadelphia, neither he nor Nick Foles is the quarterback of choice for Eagles coach Chip Kelly. The guy he wants is Mariota, his former pupil.
For a playoff-caliber team like the Eagles, Philadelphia might feel like the team is a great quarterback away from being a Super Bowl contender. Since Mariota thrived in Kelly’s system at Oregon he could make a smooth transition the NFL in that scheme. The Bucs would be thrilled to receive a call from Kelly asking what it would take to get Mariota.
The Rams and Redskins set the precedent for the Buccaneers trading the pick that would enable a team like the Eagles to acquire him in 2012. St. Louis shipped the second overall pick to Washington for quarterback Robert Griffin III for the Redskins’ first- and second-round picks that year, a first-round pick in 2013 and a first-rounder in 2014.
Through trades in 2012 and ’13, the Rams took those four picks and turned them into eight players, including five starters: defensive tackle Michael Brockers (first round, 2012), linebacker Alec Ogletree (first round 2013), cornerback Janoris Jenkins (second round, 2012), wide receiver Stedman Bailey (third round 2013) and left tackle Greg Robinson (first round 2014). One of the other picks, running back Zac Stacy, a seventh-rounder in 2013, rushed for 973 yards last year as a rookie and is a backup to Tre Mason this season.
While the Rams have yet to make the playoffs themselves and have struggled to find their own answer at quarterback as Sam Bradford has battled ACL injuries in back-to-back seasons, St. Louis is further along in that process than Washington is, and RGIII’s days as a Redskin could be numbered.
No general manager or head coach that is feeling pressure to win now, as Jason Licht and Lovie Smith are after a two-win debut season in Tampa Bay, wants to accumulate draft picks in the too distant future. So it might be possible to ask Philadelphia for five draft picks over the next two seasons instead if Kelly is interested in acquiring the number one overall pick for Mariota.
Getting Philadelphia’s picks in the first, second and third rounds this year, and the first and third round next year might suffice. Let’s operate under this premise and see what Tampa Bay could get this year from a trade like that instead of Mariota.
The problem with the Eagles’ draft picks is that Philadelphia, which currently has a 10-3 record, currently picks 27th, which is almost a second-round pick. The Bucs could trade up into the first round – and would have plenty of ammunition for it – but let’s say they stay put and draft. Let’s see how it could turn out.
EARLY BUCS’ SUGGESTED MOCK DRAFT VIA TRADE WITH EAGLES
1. 27. (From Eagles) – Notre Dame LT Ronnie Stanley – 6-6, 318
The redshirt sophomore has yet to declare for the draft, but if he does, he has the size, athleticism, and strength to become a starting left tackle in Tampa Bay.
2. 33. (Bucs) – South Carolina G A.J. Cann – 6-3, 311
The Buccaneers get a strong, agile guard that can step in right away and be a starter as a rookie to help jumpstart the team’s struggling ground game.
2. 59. (From Eagles) – Indiana RB Tevin Coleman – 6-0, 210
With Doug Martin not the answer and Charles Sims still unproven, Tampa Bay gets a big, 2,000-yard rusher from Indiana that has speed and tackle-breaking ability.
3. 65. (Bucs) – UCLA MLB Eric Kendricks – 6-0, 230
The playmaking Kendricks beat out Scooby Wright III for the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors and could step in and be a starting Mike linebacker in his first year.
3. 97. (From Eagles) – USC QB Cody Kessler – 6-1, 210
At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Kessler reminds some of Drew Brees, especially with his accuracy (70.7 percent) and TD-to-INT ratio of 36:4, which is nearly as good as Mariota’s.
4. (From Rams) – Norfolk State DE Lynden Trail – 6-7, 250
Former Florida recruit has had a standout career as a pass rusher and playmaker at Norfolk State and the rangy, athletic DE-OLB would help the Bucs off the edge.
5. (Bucs) – Montana DE Zach Wagenmann – 6-4, 250
Tampa Bay would love to have a furious, relentless pass rusher like Wagenmann, who has posted 37.5 sacks over the last three years at Montana.
5. (From Patriots) – Georgia CB Damian Swann – 5-11, 180
Swann is a big-time playmaker and has the flexibility to be a blitzing nickel corner or an outside corner with the feistiness to go against receivers and make plays on the ball.
6. (From Rams) – Georgia C David Andrews – 6-2, 294
Andrews would bring the same kind of toughness and intelligence to Tampa Bay’s line that he displayed while blocking for Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb.
7. (Bucs) – UAB WR Jamarcus “JJ” Nelson – 5-11, 160
Nelson, a small, but fast receiver, is one of the most dangerous return men in the nation, leading the way with four kick returns for touchdowns last year.
Now here’s what Tampa Bay’s draft would look like if the Bucs didn’t trade down and picked Mariota first overall.
EARLY BUCS’ SUGGESTED MOCK DRAFT WITHOUT TRADE WITH EAGLES
1. 1. (Bucs) – Oregon QB Marcus Mariota – 6-4, 225
Mariota is a proven winner with great ability as a runner and a penchant for not throwing interceptions, which would be a welcome sight in Tampa Bay.
2. 33. (Bucs) – Pittsburgh OT T.J. Clemmings – 6-5, 305
With most of the top left tackles getting selected in the first round, Tampa Bay takes an athletic, mauling right tackle to help improve the team’s ground game.
3. 65. (Bucs) – Alabama G Arie Kouandijo – 6-5, 315
Committed to improving the offensive line, the Bucs take a solid run-blocking guard in Koundijo, who comes from a winning tradition at Alabama.
Not a bad draft, right? But in the trade with Philadelphia, Tampa Bay gets the opportunity to draft two extra players and potential starters at running back (Coleman) and middle linebacker (Kendricks). And keep in mind that the Bucs would also have the Eagles’ first- and third-round picks in 2015 to aid in their rebuilding project.
If Mariota ends up being a franchise-type quarterback in Tampa Bay then the Bucs have bolstered their offense with his selection in addition to three offensive linemen. But if he’s not and struggles to convert to a pro-style passing game, Tampa Bay’s franchise will continue to suffer a setback for years to come as it did when it missed on Josh Freeman in the first round of the 2009 draft.
FAB 2. THE NFL IS STILL A POCKET PASSER LEAGUE
Tampa Bay is the current owner of the first overall draft pick and will be spending the next five months analyzing and scrutinizing both Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston along with every other signal caller that enters the 2015 NFL Draft. What might give Winston a leg up on Mariota is the fact that he is a classic, drop-back pocket passer running a pro-sytle offense where Mariota is a product of a spread offense and is involved in the quarterback run game.
While players like Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel have tantalized football fans with their athleticism and scrambling ability, pocket passers still rule in the NFL and the evidence is overwhelming. First of all, of the mobile quarterbacks – past and present – listed above, only Wilson has won a Super Bowl and that was due just as much to Seattle’s dominant defense last year as it was anything Wilson and the offense did.
Let’s take a look at the last eight Super Bowls dating back to Lovie Smith’s appearance in the NFL championship game with Chicago in 2004. Take a look at the number of pocket passers that have played for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
QBs IN THE PAST 8 SUPER BOWLS
XLVIII – Seattle’s Russell Wilson beat Denver’s Peyton Manning
XLVII – Baltimore’s Joe Flacco beat San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick
XLVI – NY Giants’ Eli Manning beat New England’s Tom Brady
XLV – Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers beat Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger
XLIV – New Orleans’ Drew Brees beat Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning
XLIII – Pittsburgh’s Roethlisberger beat Arizona’s Kurt Warner
XLII – NY Giants’ Eli Manning beat New England’s Tom Brady
XLI – Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning beat Chicago’s Rex Grossman
Out of the 13 quarterbacks that played in those Super Bowls (three appeared twice), only two quarterbacks would be described as mobile quarterbacks – Wilson and Kaepernick. The other 11 quarterbacks are classic pocket passers capable of reading progressions and finding open receivers.
Those defending the new generation of mobile quarterbacks would suggest that a recent trend shows those dual-threat signal callers asserting themselves in the NFL, appearing in the last two Super Bowls with Wilson coming out on top last February over Manning and the Broncos. With three weeks left in the 2014 NFL regular season, the league has 13 teams in playoff position with at least eight wins.
Here is a look at those teams and the quarterbacks that lead them:
NFL TEAMS AND QBs WITH AT LEAST 8 WINS IN 2014
11-3 Arizona – Carson Palmer/Drew Stanton
10-3 Green Bay – Rodgers
10-3 New England – Tom Brady
10-3 Denver – Peyton Manning
9-4 Indianapolis – Andrew Luck
9-4 Seattle – Russell Wilson
9-4 Philadelphia – Nick Foles/Mark Sanchez
9-4 Dallas – Tony Romo
9-4 Detroit – Matt Stafford
8-4-1 Cincinnati – Andy Dalton
8-5 Pittsburgh – Ben Roethlisberger
8-5 Baltimore – Joe Flacco
8-5 San Diego – Philip Rivers
Of those 13 teams, only one has a dual-threat quarterback and that’s Seattle with Wilson. While his play has held steady over the past three seasons, the play of other mobile QBs – notably that of Newton and Griffin III – has diminished this season. Even Kaepernick’s play in his third season in the NFL is starting to dip.
The San Francisco QB has just 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2014 after throwing 21 touchdowns and just eight interceptions last year. Four of Kaepernick’s interceptions came in the last two games – losses to Seattle and Oakland – in which his completion percentage was just 55 percent.
This type of evidence may ultimately push a pocket passer like Winston ahead of Mariota on NFL teams’ draft boards, including Tampa Bay’s, if the Florida State star’s character checks out under scrutiny this offseason. It may also make juniors like Michigan State’s Connor Cook and USC’s Cody Kessler more attractive to Tampa Bay if they declare for the 2015 NFL Draft and forego their final year of eligibility. I’ve written about those two in a previous SR’s Fab 5. Cook has been rated anywhere from a mid-first-rounder to a second rounder, while Kessler is likely a mid-round pick in rounds 2-4 depending on how he interviews and works out.
When it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cook ends up being the best quarterback in the 2015 draft if he leaves Michigan State early because of his ability to operate in the pocket. While many Bucs fans will be eagerly awaiting the Rose Bowl where Winston’s Seminoles will square off against Mariota’s Ducks on New Year’s Day, you might want to watch Cook and the Spartans battle the Baylor Bears earlier in the afternoon.
FAB 3. EVANS VS. BENJAMIN IS NFC SOUTH’S CLASH OF THE TITANS
The Buccaneers had their sights set on Texas A&M’s wide receiver Mike Evans with the team’s first-round pick. The Bucs loved his big, 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame, his leaping ability and his physical style of play.
Some Tampa Bay fans wanted their team to draft another big wide receiver that they were more familiar with in Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, especially after watching him catch the game-winning touchdown pass in the Seminoles’ national championship game. Those Bucs fans – likely Seminoles fans or alum – had to wince at the thought of the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder being drafted by Carolina late in the first round and facing the prospects of battling him twice per season in the NFC South.
The good news for Bucs fans and Benjamin fans is that both he and Evans have panned out during their respective rookie seasons and appear to be on the verge of NFL stardom in their careers. Benjamin drew first blood, catching six passes for 92 yards, including a key 26-yard touchdown in Carolina’s 20-14 victory at Tampa Bay in Week 1, while Evans was held to his lowest totals of the year with 37 yards on five catches in his NFL debut.
Over the next 11 games, Benjamin would heat up and Evans would catch fire, too. Heading into this Sunday’s rematch, Benjamin leads all rookie receivers with 59 catches for 848 yards and nine touchdowns. Evans is right behind with 57 catches, but has more yards (935) and one more touchdown to lead all rookies. Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins (58 catches for 822 yards and five TDs) and New York’s Odell Beckham Jr. (59 catches for 829 yards and six scores) are nipping at their heels.
Benjamin has gone over the century mark twice this season with eight catches for 115 yards and a touchdown in a 37-19 loss to Pittsburgh and a nine-catch, 109-yard, one-touchdown effort in a 19-17 loss to Atlanta.
Evans has three 100-yard performances, catching seven passes in each of those games for 124 yards (Cleveland), 125 yards (Atlanta) and 209 yards (Washington), respectively. While he has three games with two touchdown catches (Cleveland, Washington and Detroit), Benjamin has just one (Philadelphia).
Consider the fact that Evans, who has played in one less game than Benjamin has this year, has the edge in other categories such as yards per catch (16.4 to 14.4), more catches for 40-plus yards (four to two), games with three or fewer catches (one to six) and it’s safe to say that Tampa Bay’s titanic receiver is having a better rookie season than Carolina’s. Will that continue? We’ll find out on Sunday.
This is the beginning of what will surely be a fun, twice-a-year rivalry between two huge aerial weapons in Evans and Benjamin for years to come.
FAB 4. WAGENMANN’S PASS RUSH SKILLS SHOULD BE PURSUED BY TAMPA BAY
The Big Sky Conference has put some quality talent in the NFL from Idaho State defensive end Jared Allen, to former North Dakota State defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to former North Dakota State offensive lineman Billy Turner, who was a third-round pick in last year’s draft by Miami. It’s also home to one of the best pass rushers in college football in Montana defensive end Zack Wagenmann.
With the Buccaneers in desperate need of pass rushers next year, Wagenmann is someone that general manager Jason Licht needs to really investigate. At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, Wagenmann doesn’t have overwhelming size and he isn’t a freak athlete. But he is big enough and athletic enough to make it into the NFL as an interesting third day pick.
What makes Wagenmann intriguing – in addition to his long, Clay Matthews-like hair – is his production. In his 38 consecutive starts dating back to his sophomore year, Wagenmann has an impressive 37.5 sacks, including a career-high 17.5 this year, which leads the FBS and FCS. In his final game for the Grizzlies, Wagenmann tied his career high with three sacks in the team’s 37-20 loss at Eastern Washington in the second round of the playoffs.
Wagenmann also had 74 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles, which is tied for the nation’s lead in both FBS and FCS. In his Montana career, Wagenmann has 201 tackles, 52 tackles for loss, 11 forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Yet outside of his two sacks in a 17-12 loss at Wyoming to start the season, Wagenmann has not faced elite competition, which is why is draft stock is parked on the third day rather than in the first three rounds.
The epitome of consistency, Wagenmann burst onto the scene with a team-high 11.5 sacks as a sophomore and then had 8.5 last year before erupting for 17.5 this season. He gets most of his sacks from his relentless motor, which rivals that of Missouri defensive end Shane Ray, who is similarly built and is regarded as a top 10 pick.
Wagenmann wore the prestigious “No. 37 legacy jersey” at Montana this year after having the jersey handed down to him by former Grizzlies standout linebacker Jordan Tripp, who was a fifth-round pick last year by the Miami Dolphins. Now Wagenmann is attempting to join Tripp and play in the NFL next year.
Will it be in Tampa Bay? The Bucs certainly could use his furious pass-rushing skills.
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• I am not yet on the Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston bandwagon yet. Honestly, I prefer Connor Cook at this stage of my pre-draft evaluation, but if I had to pick between the Duck and the Seminole I would lean towards Winston due to his intangibles and experience making plays in the pocket. Mariota certainly has his fans out there, but as I’ve written before, one can’t look at his gaudy stats and get an accurate gauge on him. I’ve talked to several in the NFL scouting community off the record and he’s not the slam-dunk pro QB that some fans think he is.
Here are some dissenting opinions from some independent scouts on Mariota. This is from NFLDraftScout.com’s Dane Brugler on Mariota’s performance in the Pac-12 championship game: “Inconsistent accuracy is one of several reasons why the 6-foot-4, 215 pound Mariota most closely resembles San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick among current NFL quarterbacks. Because of their extraordinary acceleration, each is a true dual-threat. Further, both adept at sliding laterally to create wider throwing lanes and using their velocity to zip passes through them. Mariota did precisely this on an 11-yard touchdown to Carrington in the third quarter. Neither Kaepernick nor Mariota, however, consistently throws their receivers open, only sporadically providing teammates run-after-the-catch opportunities.”
This is from NationalFootballPost.com’s Greg Gabriel, who studied nine game tapes of Mariota this year: “His feel for pass rushers needs to improve. I charted 2.5 games and he got sacked 10 times in those games. This season, he has been sacked an astonishing 29 times! It’s not easy to get a good read on Marcus as a passer. A good majority of his passes are quick bubble screens, running back screens, swings and slants. These are very high percentage throws, and more often than not, he is throwing to his first read. In most cases, he throws to his first or second read, and in any given game, there are only a few throws where he will go through three reads and come back to his first or second. While he has shown he can do it, it rarely happens in that offense. While his completion percentage is high, his ball placement is, again, average. Receivers often have to make an adjustment in order to make the catch. In the 2.5 games I charted, he threw only five passes that I would consider pinpoint NFL-tier throws where he had a small window to complete the pass. Most of his throws are to wide open receivers, and ball placement is average and surely not consistent. Where Mariota struggles is with downfield throws.”
Just some food for thought with just over five months until the 2015 NFL Draft.
• Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy appears destined for his third straight Pro Bowl berth this season due in large part to his team-leading 8.5 sacks. But did you know that unheralded defensive end Jacquise Smith leads Tampa Bay with third-down sacks?
Smith has six sacks in a breakout season, and five of those QB captures have come on third down, which is the “money down” in the NFL. Two of those sacks came against Cleveland and Washington in the red zone to force those teams to kick field goals. The Browns made theirs, but the Redskins missed theirs.
Four of McCoy’s sacks have come on third down this season. His third down sack of Jay Cutler at Chicago resulted in a fumble.
• Florida State offensive lineman Cameron Erving is a very intriguing prospect. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder carried a late first-round pick as a left tackle during his senior season. But injuries forced head coach Jimbo Fisher to use Erving, his best lineman, at center against Miami and he played so well that the move is permanent for the rest of the season.
The athletic Erving has also shown the ability to play center well, and that versatility will only help his draft grade. When watching Jameis Winston in the postseason in January, keep an eye on No. 75. The Buccaneers could use another center on the roster to push Evan Dietrich-Smith towards greatness or push him off the roster.
• The Senior Bowl got an accepted invite from one of the most electric and unheralded pass rushers in Washington’s Hau’oli Kikaha. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Kikaha played outside linebacker for the Huskies and finished with 35 sacks, which broke the school’s all-time sack record. His 18 sacks this season led all of college football and he was second in the nation with 24 tackles for loss.
Dating back to last year, Kikaha had 14 straight games with at least one sack broken in the Huskies’ loss to Washington at the end of the regular season, but such a streak speaks to his ability to tenaciously rush the passer. He has such a fierceness when coming off the edge that the Buccaneers will have to look at this second-round prospect closely in Mobile, Ala. to see if he can put his hand on the ground and rush from a three-point stance as a defensive end rather than just a two-point stance as an outside linebacker coming off the line of scrimmage.
• You might have seen former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber modeling a nice blue suit for Bespoke and Co. David Kahn and Bret Byer are custom clothiers and huge Bucs fans that have provided fine suits for the likes of Barber, and former Bucs linebackers Ryan Nece and Shelton Quarles among others. If you are looking for the right suit for your profession or for date night, call Bespoke and Co. at (813) 902-1963 or click here. They cater to Bucs fans and also Bucs players, who are looking for the right suit for game day or any other occasion that calls for professional attire. With holiday parties in full swing and New Year’s Eve approaching, get fitted for a new shirt, slacks or suit today with Bespoke and Co.
• Would you like to get the inside scoop on the Buccaneers and have your Bucs-related questions answered in person? I do several public speaking engagements throughout the year and am willing to come to your business, group or function and bring 20 years worth of behind-the-scenes Bucs stories to your event, in addition to a lively question-and-answer session. Forget the water cooler at work. Let’s talk Bucs in a group setting and get the scoop straight from the source. If you or your company is interested in having me as a guest speaker, please e-mail me at [email protected]
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]
Preferences in order: Trade down, draft Mariota, do something else. Don’t go anywhere near Winston, he’s a disaster just waiting to happen.
The Bucs will figure out a away to pick busts as they do every year. As a franchise we suck from top to bottom.
The Quarterback debate is interesting. I am glad the Rams/Redskins trade was brought up. The Redskins got a “franchise” quarterback, but it’s not working out. The Rams got a good haul of picks, but still need a QB. They are currently 6-8. Yet, the Cardinals are down to their 3rd string qb, yet they are 11-3. But, as you wrote Scott, look at the Superbowl Champions QB and they are mostly pocket passers. Good article.
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Why no mention of the Iowa LT at #1? Not sexy but it’s probably our best move to address our most glaring weakness.
Not a fan of the BUCs trading their pick to the Eagles if they have to wait until 27th to pick or waste those extra picks to move back up.
I did watch Erving last FSU game, how can you miss him? All those runs up the gut for big gains were a result of his blocking. He gets to the second level with ease in the run game, and his pass pro is solid. Is he in the draft this year.
Our greatest upgrade needs are with the coaching staff. Unless we hire an OC and OLC it really does not matter which draft picks we get.
Sorry Scott, You will be in the minority in thinking Mariota won’t be a great NFL qb, besides winning all the awards in college he will then go to the combine and run a 4.4 sec 40 yd dash, Mayock and Charles Davis and Mr Jerimiah will swoon over his size, speed and strong arm. He will do well on the wonderlick and he will blow away scouts and gm’s with his football iq and the way he carries himself in interviews. So, nope you are way off based on your evaluation of him and yes you provided a few naysayers to support your opinion but you can always find someone who will find faults in your game, heck its why Russel Wilson went in the third round and Tom Brady in the 6th round. You don’t throw 38 tds and 2 ints if you don’t that “it” factor period and end of story. Winston will do terrible in interviews with his 3rd grade vocabulary and street ephonics, his off the field issues have been catatrophic for his character and he had a pedestrian yr vs sub par teams 24 td’s and 17 int’s (yawn) and how in gods name can you watch college games and think Connor is a better qb than Mariota? Did you even watch the Mich St Game vs Oregon this yr?
Btw I live in Az and have seen countless games of Mariota and No I’m not a Ducks Fan I’m a Sundevils Fan no homer here
Pocket passers still rule NFL? Didn’t Russel Wilson win superbowl. Lol. Yea the Hawks defense is superb but so is he. Anyways Taking a Qb in first RD is scary and we haven’t had good luck(freeman, dilfer) but I think we need to roll the dice and get either Mariota or Winston. We aren’t going anywhere with McCown or Glennon. Both backups. I prefer Mariota but it’s all just a roll of dice no matter who you are or what you think you know.
Is the Mariota comparison to Kaepernick reaaly accurate? Kaep seems to be a one read QB who looks to run first and to dazzle They paid him too much too quick and his ego is slowing down his play because his pockets and belly are full…Now does Mariota exhibit the same ‘ME FIRST’ mentality ? Can he look of his first receiver and get a 2nd or 3rd read before he runs? He seems to be smarter and more mature than Kaep is even today,they might have similar styles but maybe Mariota has more going on up stairs and makes better choices…
should read after dazzle~ with his own personal physical effort as opposed to finding someone else to make a play…
To trade with the Eagles is a mistake, they are too far back. If we keep the first overall pick I’m in on a QB. This franchise needs a Top QB to compete in the South Div. If you need a QB (and we need) and you pick in the top five you have to go QB.
I don’t think either Winston or Mariota is the answer to our QB problems. Mariota will suffer in a pro, pocket passing offense and Winston is just as likely to be spend some time in jail and/or be a success in the NFL. Definitely trade down get a QB later and rebuild the offensive line. Still need another receiver, tight-end and of course multiple defensive ends.
The difference is that I think Mariota is willing to work at it, whereas Kaepernick and a lot of other mobile QBs aren’t. My issue with drafting him, though, is Lovie. I wish Lovie was going to be fired and replaced by someone like Jon or Jay Gruden, but that’s not going to happen. So while Mariota is willing to work and learn, who will he learn from?
Last season’s draft is looking like a giant bust. Evans is great but no one else is making a splash. ASJ and Sims look like busts to me. If we keep Smith and I think we should, we need to look at fixing the front office. Something is consistently wrong with our scouting.
I like the trade with the eagles! They just need to include Foles in the same deal you proposed and I am in. Foles while not Manning is a capable and competent pro QB. I too prefer Cook to either Mariota or Winston.
Also trading him to the Eagles could haunt us even if we turn this ship around…Remember our SB run ~we needed to beat philly to get to San Diego~ do we really want to make the Eagles a solid contender for rhe NFC championship for years to come?If Kelly gets his guy back,that could potentially solidify the Eagles for years to come…The NFC is lookin weak currently,and the Eagles could find a high perch in the standings each year as a result of this trade..We might get picks but Philly becomes a contender and threat for years to come…
Great FAB 5 Scott! I’m glad I am not the only one with blinders on. I DO NOT think either qb will be starting in the NFL 5 years from now. I would trade down for extra picks in a heart beat. If the Rams were in any other division they would be in the playoffs, Arizona will be and Both teams are doing it without their starting QB. We need to fill too many holes and extra draft picks could go a long way to us being relevant again. You made very good points and you backed them up with FACTS!! GO BUCS!
dbuc- thats hilarious “Rams and Cards doing it without their starting qb”, doing what exactly? Carson started half the season before he went down and I live in Az and the Cards are winning despite the qb but how far do you believe they will go in the playoffs without one? Rams are 6-8 btw. If you don’t like Mariota personally then you don’t watch him play.
If they feel that Mariota or Winston arent potential franchise QBs im fine with the trade down. Taking a rb in the second would be a colossal failure though. They already dont use the best RB on the Roster in Rainey, why take another one????
Trade down. Get lineman. Trade 2nd and one of the fives to NE for Garroppolo.
So NE who drafted Garropolo last yr with a second will now trade him a yr later get back their second round pick and pick up a measly 5th? oh boy, it pains me to read these blogs, lol
Once again, Scott rynolds tries to act smarter than he should. First off on your list of qbs that you listed. Kaepernick and Wilson are not the only dual threat qbs. Luck, Rodgers, and Big Ben are also dual threat qbs. They may not be faster than kap or Wilson but they are definitely mobile and can make things happen with their feet. Secondly, Conor cook can’t carry mariotas jock strap. A lot of reaching and un convincing points in this article. You would rather trade away Mariota and not take a qb until later on in the draft again??? This is y we are in the position we are Scott.to afraid to take a chance on an elite talent at qb. Well you can continue and draft 2nd and 3rd tier qbs and talent. I’m taking Mariota without a second thought.
Buclover- well said
Whole article is moot. Buccaneers will beat Carolina and New Orleans and select 4th or 5th. May still get Winston at 5, but more likely will draft another pass rusher or a left tackle.
Where in the world did we get this concept that if a QB isn’t Andrew Luck he’s not a blue chipper. Scott, you and your scouting sources have gone crazy. Jameis Winston, as of today has started for 2 seasons in college and not lost a game. No one alive thinks that FSU would have that streak or a National Championship without him. He has elite tools, reads the pocket and field well and does his best in when the game is at it’s tightest. But the off the field immaturity makes him less than a Eli Manning as a football prospect? Really? Eli Manning. What was Ole Miss’ winning % when he was a starter? How many Heisman’s did he win? What were Eli’s elite skills coming out?
As far as Mariotta, he’s a junior. Not an NFL player, so saying how many NFL level accurate throws he’s making is a bit harsh. He’s got top flight physical tools, a good arm, great work ethic and is going to win the Heisman. He’s also been considered a top 10 pick for the past two years. Hard to say he’s not a blue chip QB.
Also, do you remember Carson Palmer’s career at USC? He was a one-year wonder. He started for three years and only one of them was anything to write home about. His TD/INTs through his career at USC were 3/3, 16/18, 13/12 and 33/10. He was benched as a starter. But again, Mariota and Winston, both (soon to be) Heisman Trophy winners aren’t to Palmer or Eli’s level of pedigree. Come on now.
Good Fab 5 Scott. I am taking the highest rated player if it involves a RDE, LOT, Center, QB.
I can’t Mariota or Winston in our first pick. I also don’t see a trade worthy of out draft spot.
How many teams can point to their starting Center or RDE as one of the biggest reasons they won the Super Bowl? Now how many teams can point to their starting QB as one of the biggest reasons they won the Super Bowl?
scotty – let my post ride brother – you know it’s on the money…adam from ny
ps i’ve been a rider since the jeff fox orange uni newspaper days !
ps and peep my intagram folks at COSTKRT
Fab 1: “Mariota is not a very accurate passer in the pocket on mid-range and downfield throws.” Compared to what? I’m sure Mariota’s completion percentage gets worse as he attempts longer throws…just like every other QB that has ever existed. Now if you compare his numbers at different ranges against other QB of varying levels of success we would have something here. Until then I’ll continue to trust my eyes and brain.
Fab 2: Like Buclover1988, you’re not recognizing all the dual threat QB’s just to make your point. In addition to the guys he named, Brees and Flacco are also mobile and elusive, they just don’t run as much as the other guys that are considered mobile. Also, your list of Super Bowl QB’s (the only list that matters) is skewed by including the guys that lost the Super Bowl. If you look at that same list and only look at the winners the only guys that won who aren’t mobile are the Mannings.
Fab 3: Luckily we have the better WR in Evans. Now it’s time to get the better QB in Mariota.
Fab 4: I haven’t seen him play this year so I can’t comment on him. I did finally see OT Sheriff. He is a good run blocker and only gave up one pressure in the two games I saw him play. I’ll check out guy as well.
Fab 5: I don’t trust anything the NFL scouting community says before the draft. I would only trust their opinions on players already in the NFL they don’t have an opportunity to get. Here’s what I don’t understand about evaluating NFL players: why do I need “experts” to evaluate them for me? You don’t need a stock broker to pick stocks for you if you’re smart and you do a ton of research and evaluating NFL players is no different…any more fun. That’s why I do it. Mariota has taken 29 sacks, but how many times has he lost the ball with those sacks? How many times has he turned the ball over when he drops back to pass? That’s what matters and that’s what we need. I’m one of those fans that thinks Mariota is a “slam dunk” QB and it’s not that much of a stretch when Luck was considered a slam dunk QB and he takes way too many sacks…and often loses the ball. Oh yeah, and he’s on his way back to the playoffs. Give me a break, quit overthinking this and draft Mariota.
Looks like this debate of the three choices of Mariota, Winston or trade down is going to rage until April and then continue until history proves who was right. I’m looking forward to the Buccaneer Woes Bowl game when we may be watching our true QB of the future. I know my buddy JonnyG loves Mariota and I respect his observations; but I need to see for myself. To tell you the truth, I don’t think either is worthy of the first pick, so my inclination is to trade down and hope that Winston, because of his off-field antics, falls in our lap around pick #15. I think we’re going to beat the Panthers this week and the Saints to close out the season to finish 4-12 so this discussion may end up being moot.
You know, year in and year out I hear majority of you talk about how this qb and that qb isn’t worthy of this and that where as one of you even think that Connor cook is better than both Winston and Mariota. Please stop! Stop being afraid of drafting a qb high bc your afraid to fail. If we don’t take a qb with our first pick and we give our pick away and trade down into the mid to late 20’s for some other player that won’t be In the nfl in 3 yrs idk what I’ll do. This team has holes but none and I repeat NONE of them is more important than qb. Our ol needs a complete overhaul, I get it but I and I know @jongruden is through with seeing guys like mccown, glennon, freeman, and others that have taken poor qb play to the next level of crappiness, under center for us. I’m taking Mariota. It’s not even close. Other than the “system” he plays in, that majority of you deem the reason for ALL his success, what about Marcus says he’s not worthy of the number one pick? Mariota grades out higher than rg3 by a lot and rg3 was the second overall pick when he got drafted. And above all, I’m not trading shit to anyone. Tampa needs top tier talents, they need quality, not quantity.
Preach on Buclover1988!
From majority of the reasoning, including that of Scott rynolds; joe Montana sucked and all his stats were inflated and his Super Bowls and Mvps should have an asterisk by them because Montana played in a system called the west coast offense. That system bs is grossly overused. The Tampa 2 is a system. Do u take away what brooks and sapp did bc they played in that system? Or how about ronde barber? Docking players for having their gifts utilized correctly is not a flaw…so stop treating it as such.
Great point about the Tampa 2. We all hate this offense so it’s not like we’re going to keep the same one when we get a new QB. Chip Kelly has proven his offense is productive in the NFL. Let’s just draft Mariota and run a version of Chip Kelly’s offense. Between the film on Philly and Oregon a new OC has everything he needs to run a version of that offense. Then we’ll be in the Super Bowl in a few years instead of Philly!
We all will never completely agree on everything. For me, it is just too early to even discuss QB because I am like Scubog; I think we beat Carolina and maybe New Orleans and surprise Green bay because they may keep questionables off the field in that game. Go Bucs win out!
Ugh. You’re entitled to your opinion Horse, but what does “winning out” do for this franchise? 25% of the players who would win out wouldn’t be on the roster next year. Those that remain aren’t going to be significantly better or worse because the won meaningless games at the end of the season. You have a shot at a franchise changing player and a top pick in the draft and you’d rather get a short term feel good victory instead?
Horse, luv ya man, but why meaningless wins and losing a top pick?
Haven’t said much because I’ve already said it…..gonna wait to pick a QB. I’m a first things first kinda guy and before we can pick Mariota or trade down for that wealth of draft picks, we have to have the 1st pick. That hasn’t happened yet. If the Bucs win a game, they drop to the 5th pick and if they lose out and the Titans lose out, the Bucs will pick second because of SOS. The last 3 games we play are more difficult than the last 3 games they play. No 1st pick, probably no Mariota because of our many needs, we will not have the ammunition to compete with other teams to trade up.
Then next month the Bucs have to pick an OC. This will tell you what kind of scheme they are likely to run and the OC will have a lot to say about who will be the QB. Do you see Lovie Smith running a read option offense? Do you see Lovie Smith, a deeply religious and principled man drafting Jameis Winston? Do you have any earthly idea what Lovie Smith will do in the draft as he has total control of the roster.
Mariota and Winston play head-to-head in a few weeks. Who will look like a promising NFL QB? We’ll soon find out. Then how will they look in the invitational bowl games? Will they play? Will Winston even come out? He’s just a sophomore and some believe he could use another year of maturity.
Then finally there is the Underwear Olympics (Combine) – how will they throw? Cam and Bridgewater looked horrible, but doing OK now. Still questions will linger. Is RGIII and Kaepernick giving GMs pause when evaluating Mariota? Is there more to come in the review of Winston’s off-field antics? A lot of things have to happen with lot’s to learn and a long way to go.
Patience is virtue and I’ve got time. And after everything is said and done, choices are made, and games are played – only then will we know if we made the right choices. Good luck Bucs!
First off, Russell Wilson can’t be grouped into any kind of category and labeled. The guy is just a winner. If you want to put him in a category I’d put him in the determined to be the best category. Like Brady, Manning, Breese, and even Luck, this guy has a one track mind which is to leave his mark on this game. These guys don’t just WANT to be the best they believe on a different level that they can change the game and bring the entire team and organization with them. Pocket passer, mobile qb, that I don’t feel has any relevance. The “it” factor I’m looking for is the one that exhibits drive and calm confidence over arrogance in his abilities to push through whatever to be the best. Whiny is the thing I see from the other “mobile qbs” who aren’t succeeding. Whining doesn’t translate to winning no matter where you throw the ball from. I too am not all in on any qb yet but for me Winston is one to stay away from. If the “it” factor you guys want is a guy who plays like crap then finally wakes up with some magic in the fourth quarter, we could always bring back Freeman…
Hello fellow bucs fans, how are you? I am a first time poster and just signed up to takl about this topic.My brother is fellow buc fan chef boho and I am very excited to chat with fellow fans.
I signed up just to talk about this very subject. First off, I think trading down is only a good idea if we don’t get one of the two QB’s. Connor cook as listed above is a terrible idea. Enough drafting Qb’s in the 3rd round and hoping for Tom Brady. He was the exception not the rule.
Now the difficult part. I know I am going to catch some heat for this and I do from my brother but I would go with Winston all day over Mariotta.
People say the system doens’t matter matter, but it matters GREATlY. There is not 1 spread Qb that is a starter in the NFL right now. And Russell Wilson ran a pro style offense in college so he is not in that category.
I will admitt I am also a little biased being an FSU fan as well, but that also gives me insight as I have watched every single snap from him these two years. While his stats aren’t glowing this year, there are many reasons for his interceptions outside of his control, such as working with three freshman receivers and no running game for the first 8 games of the season.
He also has the “it” factor Mariotta doesn’t. Winston hasn’t loast a game since Junior high, until this year Mariotta hasn’t even won the pac 12 in his 3 years.
When it comes to character concerns, obviously you would go with Mariotaa in that category all day. Winston has made some bonehead decisions. But doens that mean he will be an idiot for life? Point is we can’t miss on a QB this year , but somehow I know we’ll win one or two of our last games and mess this up. Either QB we get is a major upgrade over Mcclown and Beaker.
Anyhow, sorry for the long winded first post just looking to put my 2 cents in.
Every opinion is a valued one. For the first time, I think you expressed yourself very well. Everybody will not agree, but that’s the name of this game.
Looking forward to hearing from you again!
“There is not 1 spread Qb that is a starter in the NFL right now.”
That statement is not actually true. There are a number of spread QBs in the NFL:
1) Alex Smith
2) Colin Kaepernick
3) Cam Newton
4) Robert Griffin III
5) Ryan Tannehill
6) Andy Dalton
7) Geno Smith
8) Blake Bortles
I think there is confusion over QBs who come from a “spread-option” versus a “spread” offense. They are not the same. The “spread-option” offense is what Marcus Mariota, Tim Tebow, Alex Smith, Cam Newton, RG3 and Colin Kaepernick used in college. It’s where the offense exploits the QBs running ability.
The “spread” offense on the other hand focuses on multiple receiver sets and is not dependent upon the QB’s running ability. That’s Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Geno Smith, and Blake Bortles.
Welcome again CGMaster27. Looking forward to your future comments. Be cautious with some of the fellow posters who snap at you for having a different opinion than their own (even me sometimes). Some here think Mariota is the best, some think it’s Winston and others think neither. I know this much, people said the same things about the laundry list of top 5 QB’s who have failed miserably. Same types of discussions were had between Manning and Leaf. There on the stage at the Heisman Award were a lineup of college stars who didn’t even become average NFL players. All I ask is that Licht and staff do as much research as possible and we get it right for once. I’m still waiting to see Mariota for myself. Seemed like a nice young man at the Heisman presentation. Would have liked to have seen more highlights of his passing prowess than him doing a Legarette Blount impersonation leaping over defenders. The rest of the season will play out no mater what any of us want. Yes, I’d like the opportunities having the first pick presents, but I’m also a guy sitting in the stands the final two games having to defend our team by giving the “We’re # 1” (as in first pick) hand gesture to the Packer and Saint fans who find great joy in taking over our stadium. I can assure those who want to Suck for the Duck or Go Winless for Winston that if they’re with me at those game days, they’ll want to kick some Packer and Saint butt.
Thanks for the welcome guys, it’s great to be talking to fellow passionate fans. I know we won’t all agree with what our team should do but we can all a agree winning now solves nothing.
We need a qb and an o-line overhaul bad. It all starts there as our defense is coming around I think. Should be an interesting draft and looking forward to talking football with you guys. Thanks again for the warm buccaneer welcome.
cgmaster27, welcome aboard and glad to read your comments. I like the thoughts of winning games so I am holding off about the QB arena discussions. In two weeks we’ll know where we are as to where we draft. I like you am a huge Nole fans. Had two kids go there for 6 years each and lived there almost 20 years. Winston had just entered FSU when we left the area. My friends are about like you as to what they see in the kid. I hope he goes back to school if they let him. He needs another year of maturity and working on some of his fundamentals. He has to stay away from baseball and focus on football. There’s only a few who think they are smarter than everyone else; most of the posters enjoy the posting and keep the attack mode in check. Go Bucs!
Hello horse and thanks for the welcome. You’re an old school bucs fan and I respect your opinions greatly. As for Winston I always was a little bit of a believer that he would come back to fsu for one more year to get his degree.
Usually I am all for closing out the season strong but this team will look so different next year, not sure if any momentum would eve carry over. Looking forward to our conversations horse and go noles!
Any of this regarding who they pick in the first round if it is an offensive player will not matter as long as our clueless offensive coordinator is still here running this offense. Lovie needs to pick up a coordinator who can adjust to the NFL today and not call some many conservative and predictable plays like this year. The reason Jenkins looks like a bust is because we don’t know how to use a tight end to exploit defenses and never have since Jimmy Giles left here. This offense will never be anything as long as Lovie keeps using incompetent offensive minded people to call plays. I have yet to see a quick pass thrown within 2-3 seconds consistently on this team as it is always a 5-6 step drop back and the ball never thrown over the middle. Until you get someone who can call creative offensive plays, you might as well draft all defense and hope whomever is the quarterback can pull a Dilfer type performance off and not let the offense lose a game. Good Luck!
Gg720 I completely agree with you. I think it’s a forgone conclusion that arroyo the clueless one will be gone after the season. Our offensive coordinator selection will speak volumes about the qb we select.
As for our play calling, yeah it’s kind of a joke, I don’t see any bubble screens or quick slants ever. Those two things alone could help take some pressure off of our ” offensive” line. Oh well here’s hopeing we get a decent coordinator for a couple of years. The turnover is redicilous.
You know what I find funny is when everybody talks about how great of a trade the Rams made with the Skins for all those picks in exchange for the RGIII pick but how many playoff games have the Rams won since then? How many playoff games have the Rams even been to? Zero! In fact they haven’t even posted a winning season yet. Yes they got some nice players out of that draft but they are missing the one key ingredient that you need to be a legit contender….A QUARTERBACK! BTW even with all his recent struggles at least RGIII has seen the post season.
Scott, if the key to Mariota is the “offensive scheme” why not draft him and sign Oregon State’s offensive coordinator as the Bucs’ new OC?
Scott, sure you watched the game. Quit doggin Dougie!
Give him a decent O line and decent passing game and he will do just fine.
Why should Tampa trade down to no#20.Wouldn’t the NYJets at #6 trade up for bucs #1 pick. Jets give up a NO#1,NO#2 and NO#2 next year and a no#2 or #3 next year. And Tampa could still get Jameis Winston at no#6!
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