Looking out for No. 1: Mariota/Winston Watch

Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (left) and Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota are possible selections for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL draft.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers own the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Almost everyone agrees that they’ll choose a quarterback. But who will become their face of hope? Will Florida State’s Jameis Winston make the short trip south from Tallahassee to start his pro career? Or will Oregon’s Marcus Mariota be the answer? Each week until the selection is announced April 30, we’ll help you digest the latest news and rumors about the two quarterbacks and what the Bucs might be thinking.

Winston is a flashing billboard for charisma. Mariota is a daffodil in comparison. 

Winston is Broadway. Mariota is Main Street in small-town Middle America. 

Winston has a demeanor fit for Hollywood. Mariota is barely louder than a theater seat. 

How do you like your leader? Does personality matter? 

To some degree, it should. A debate was ignited last week when Mariota appeared lax behind a mic during his visit to One Buc Place. Unfortunately for him, his time there was compared to Winston’s tourist stop in Tampa earlier this month. 

If we’re talking an ability to grip attention through verbal presentation in this time of March Madness, Winston is Kentucky and Mariota is Hampton. 

The Bucs would be wise to take this into account. If either quarterback is selected first overall, the choice must command a huddle. He must win over the locker room. He must inspire when necessary. To be sure, either player’s on-field performance would trump all, but an ability to lead through words and dynamic body language should matter. 

Previous installments

Of course, what Mariota accomplished at Oregon can’t be diminished. He has been praised as a great teammate, a quality leader. From all indications, those traits will translate well to the NFL. He must be who he is. He can’t become someone fake. 

But ask yourself this: If you looked for inspiration to climb from a 2-14 season, who would provide the greatest spark? Winston or Mariota? Who would offer the hottest fire? 

The answer is worth considering. 

How much does it matter? That’s for the Bucs to decide.


 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Scott Smith writes that Mariota embraces opportunity at One Buc.

Sports Talk Florida (via joebucsfan.com): The Tampa Tribune’s Roy Cummings said the Bucs aren’t big fans of Mariota’s personality.

Pro Football Talk: Mike Florio discusses Mariota’s personality with former Bucs quarterback Shaun King.

Bucs Nation: Sander Philipse writes that NFL teams are hating on Mariota for saying the same thing Winston did.

MMQB: Peter King writes that Winston plans to skip the NFL draft.

Tallahassee Democrat: Safid Deen writes that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher supports Winston’s plans not to attend the NFL draft.

New York Daily News: Bob Raissman writes that if Winston is a no-show at the NFL draft, expect analysts to skip an explanation.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers news

CBS Sports (via Scout.com): Jason La Canfora says Bucs leadership is increasingly sold on Winston as the No. 1 pick.

Tampa Tribune: Martin Fennelly writes that Winston and Mariota should be the ones asking the Bucs questions.

FOX Sports: Joel Klatt continues to rate Mariota ahead of Winston on his Big Board.

ESPN (via NJ.com): Jon Gruden rips Mariota’s fluorescent yellow uniforms while wearing a yellow polo shirt.


This is who the experts have the Bucs drafting with the No. 1 pick:

Peter Schrager (FOX Sports): Winston (as March 17)

Rob Rang (CBSSports.com): Winston (as of March 16)

Dane Brugler (CBSSports.com): Winston (as of March 19)

Pete Prisco (CBSSports.com): Winston (as of March 17)

Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com): Winston (as of March 18)



"Being the first pick, to me, it’s not a huge thing. I’d love to play for the Bucs. With that being said, if you find the team that wants you, that’s going to be the right team. I look forward to marketing myself and finding that team." — Mariota, when speaking to the Bucs’ official website in a visit to Tampa last Monday. 

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.