This year’s 2015 NFL Draft condundrum–Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota?
Winston–Heisman trophy winner. Strong arm. Said to be a good leader on the field. Questionable decision maker on (interceptions) and off the field (alleged sexual assault, crab legs stealer).
Mariota–Heisman trophy winner. Smart. Solid arm and good scrambling ability. Humble leader. Can he translate his talents though from running the Oregon spread system to the NFL?
And that last question on Mariota is why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select Winston as the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft in Chicago. And if you believe the latest rumors, Mariota will follow at No. 2 if the Browns give up two first round picks to Tennessee to move up. A few years from now however, Browns management may be needing to “duck” out-of-town for mortgaging the future on a system QB.
If it came down to selecting on character there is no doubt Mariota would be the pick. I met and interviewed him two years ago at Pac-12 Football Media Day. Not a great interview, but you could tell he was a good kid. Smart yet confidently quiet. The type of guy you would have no problem allowing your daughter to date. Running a quick passing, limited decision-making, scrambling, spread offensive system he was a winner. But that was in college.
Unfortunately history dictates spread quarterbacks don’t fare as well at the NFL level. This goes back to some of the first to emerge and become highly drafted spread QB’s such as Andre Ware and David Klingler. Both failed miserably. In recent years the most successful spread QB’s include Cam Newton (Panthers), Colin Kaepernick (49ers) and Alex Smith (Chiefs). You can say they are solid but not QB’s that you would expect to lead their franchises to regular Super Bowl titles. Those that have been underwhelming or failed of late include the likes Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Blaine Gabbert (Niners, formerly Jaguars) and Brandon Weeden (Cowboys, formerly Browns).
Quarterbacks coming from colleges that run more conventional offensive systems clearly have shown greater success over the years. Andrew Luck (Colts), Russell Wison (Seahawks), Matt Ryan (Falcons), Joe Flacco (Ravens), Matthew Stafford (Lions) and Nick Foles (Rams, formerly Eagles) have all outshined their spread counterparts.
So who will have a more successful NFL career? History dictates it will be Winston. If, and it’s a big if, he can stay out of trouble off the field. He is the best trained to become a franchise quarterback. Doesn’t mean Mariota won’t have success–just means he has a steeper uphill climb.
If it was up to me, I would choose neither. Too many questions for both to put the future of one’s franchise upon their shoulders.