City Sports Report

Jameis Winston Over Marcus Mariota Is An Easy Choice

Jameis Winston is the best quarterback out there. But his off-the-field issues have help Mariotta get into the conversation (photo courtesy of www.jacksonville.com)

Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are two of the most sought-after quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft. And their talents were on display at this weekend’s NFL Combine. Both were pretty sharp with their passes and Mariotta ran a good time at the combine, while many clowned Winston for his speed (which isn’t a big issue for a quarterback). But when it all comes down to it, playing quarterback is more about the combined skills than the speed anyway. And when all things are combined, the choice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who hold the top pick of the 20154 NFL Draft, is easy. Winston is the more prepared for the NFL on the field and should be the top pick without question.

The dynamic Marcus Mariota was at the helm of the Oregon Ducks offense for three years. And during his time, he was definitely one of the best weapons in college football. But if you look at the offense he runs, it does not make him a likely star at the quarterback position at the next level. The Ducks ran a spread offense that not many run at the next level with the exception of the Philadelphia Eagles, who are led by former Oregon coach Chip Kelly. The offense and the combination of the speed with which Oregon ran it led to Mariota putting up over 4,454 yards passing and 770 yards rushing. His speed at the position made him very dangerous to opposing defenses. But in the NFL, running quarterbacks and success are not something that are commonplace. In the last few years, quarterbacks like Seattle’s Russell Wilson, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Carolina’s Cam Newton have had success being the mobile quarterback that some demand. But only one of these guys has a title (Russell Wilson), while the others have had some success but no championship. Mariotta is in the mode of these guys in terms of a mobile quarterback, but we don’t know what his capacity is to handle a pro offense at the next level. And with the way he plays, he is not actually a guy that could play for any team offensively.

Jameis Winston, on the other hand, was dynamic in a different way for the Florida State Seminoles. In his two years at Florida State, he helped restore the Seminoles to college football’s upper echelon while displaying poise and composure when it mattered the most. Unlike Mariota, Winston does most of his damage from the pocket, as shown by his big passing yards (4057 passing yards) and smaller rushing numbers (219 yards rushing) last season. But that does not mean that Winston was less productive. Winston, in fact, did all that he had to do for his team. Sure, he had moments on the field that were head-scratching at times, but he was also the guy that came through when his team needed him most more times than not. And as a result of his play, he was able to lead the Seminoles to a national championship during his redshirt freshman season and guided them back to the college football playoffs this season. As far as his transition to the professional game, his style fits a little better due to him being a pro-style quarterback. His vision on the field is something that will help him at the next level due to running a pro-style offense and understanding passing concepts from a pro-offense angle. Learning that at the next level will not be as tough a transition for him due to his learning capacity that some have raved about. And it’s because of his arm and his style of play that would have him fit more teams in terms of what they are looking for.

Other than the styles of play for both, there are other issues at hand that make Winston the better choice. If you look at big games that Mariota has been in, it seems as if he comes up short almost everytime. The latest example of Mariota coming up short was the National Championship game versus the Ohio State Buckeyes. Mariotta was extremely quiet for most of the game and had little to no effect at all on the outcome. He amassed 333 yards passing for the game, but most of that was in garbage time when the game was already out of hand. Essentially, he disappeared in the big game. And as a result, it is questionable as to whether his shortcomings in big games in college will translate over to failures in the big games in the NFL. And with better competition out there, it may be an issue that gets answered sooner rather than later for Mariotta. The answer could be something that some have already assumed will be bad. And who would blame them? His body of work suggests more troubles down the road. On the other hand, Winston seems to not only play well in big games, but make the big plays to win the games as well. Sure, many will point to the game versus the Oregon Ducks and will reflect on that as his lasting legacy on the big stage. But how soon people forget that he has saved this Florida State team many times when they need it most. He was the central figure in leading the game-winning drive toward a championship his redshirt freshman year and he also has led many comebacks this season in games that looked like Florida State was going to lose. In some of those instances, he was the one that helped get them into trouble, but he was also the one that fixed his own mistake in those circumstances more times than not. Winston’s ability to make things happen in the big game is something that can be looked at as a positive at the next level by scouts. And it can be something that could potentially carry a team to winning the Super Bowl one day.

Winston is the more solid choice than Mariota when it comes to playing football, but unfortunately he has some off-the field issues that make him a high risk to some. Mariota is calm-mannered and is a player that has never even been in trouble off the field. That squeaky-clean reputation has made him more attractive to teams and the safer pick for them in terms of representing them as the face of their franchise. But in the case of Winston, there are many things that are bad news to NFL teams. For instance, the rape case he had while at school and the incident in the cafeteria as well have some wondering what kind of leader they are handing the keys to their franchise over to. And it is because of that concern that some wonder if they will ever get to see what Winston could be at the next level. The fear is that with more freedom there will be more chances for him to get in trouble. And with more chances to get in trouble, some feel he will eventually succumb to a bad choice, making the franchise look like a fool for taking a chance on him.

The question of risk versus reward is always around. It was around last season when the Browns selected quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round last season and that one did not turn out well for them in Year One. Heading into this season, Winston has that same question hanging over his head and that has led many to make the choice to leave him alone in favor of Mariota. But when it is all said and done, Winston is the better choice if you want to win a championship. Mariota may become a great quarterback, but there are far more issues with how his game translates to the next level than there are for Winston. It should be interesting to see how this one plays out for both these young men. Hopefully both will be successful at the next level. But there are never any guarantees when it comes to drafting a player.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

2 Comments

  1. ASR

    February 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    His issue has never been his talent it has been his hubris. Jameis has an infectus personality and he seems quite likeable. Tampa most likely will draft him #1 but let’s grade him after his first three seasons and see where he stands.

  2. Lee Love

    February 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    for all the reasons statee in the article Winston is the better choice and hopefully he’ll grow out of his childish antics that are a concern…regarding his ability to play football and football thought process it all appears to be there, the proof will be how he conducts himself on & off the field when the real deal is upon him

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