Listen to all the draft coverage on any network and you will hear the same thing coming from a different mouth. The two best quarterbacks in the draft are Jameis Winston of Florida State and Marcus Mariota of Oregon. All signs indicate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select the man they see as the best quarterback, Winston, with the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
As they have been throughout their team’s history, Tampa Bay will be wrong.
A fact that has recently emerged regarding Tampa Bay sheds a little light on that statement. In the history of the Tampa Bay franchise, they have never signed a quarterback they drafted to a second contract. Every quarterback the Bucs have ever drafted has washed away or drifted off to another team. As a result, the team has to reset the position with the frequency of a Presidential election, every four years at best.
Of the 32 men who have been quarterbacks for Tampa bay since their inception in 1976, only 5 have played four or more seasons in Buccaneer Orange. Their frugality in contract talks have cost them players who went on to greater success and Super Bowl rings with other teams. (Steve Young, Doug Williams, Joe Flacco). Now they’re primed in the top spot of the draft to choose the new face of their franchise at the quarterback position.
The best quarterback is not Jameis Winston. Not by a long shot.
The measurables for Winston look great. He has a NFL build. He played in a pro-style offense at Florida State that everyone sees as the dividing line between him and the man who really is the best quarterback available, Marcus Mariota. Winston is a proven winner who won the Heisman Trophy his freshman year. Despite putting up better numbers than Winston, Mariota didn’t win the Heisman until last season, his junior season.
There are few positive metrics that Mariota does not beat Winston. Last season, Mariota was better than Winston in completion percentage, passing yards, rushing yards, passing and rushing touchdowns, yards per completion and quarterback rating while leading the fourth highest scoring offense at Oregon to the tune of 45 points per game. Winston led Mariota in one category, interceptions, with 18 to Mariota’s 4. He completed one pass more than Mariota (305 to 304) but it took 22 more attempts to do so.
To the eye, Winston looks much bigger than Mariota. In reality they’re practically the same. Both players stand 6’4. Winston (225-230) outweighs Mariota (215-220) by 10-15 pounds depending on how much indulging on crab legs he’s been doing lately. Winston does carry a spare tire around his midsection where Mariota has a more slender, athletic frame. Both men have rifle arms and show great pocket presence and escapabilty. Mariota gets the nod in the speed department after posting a 4.5 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
The single knock on Mariota is the system he played in. In Oregon, he was the maestro of the spread offense. He operated out of the shotgun and Oregon ran a play an average of every 20 seconds. Pro pundits debate whether that system of play will translate to the NFL. That stands as the only reason Winston is considered a can’t-miss NFL prospect while Mariota is seen as a project. The Oregon QB hasn’t ran a play from the under center since high school.
Any quarterbacks coach should be salivating over the possibility of having a prodigy such as Mariota to mentor. A three, five or seven step drop is not rocket science to teach. As Mariota gets comfortable operating under center he’s going to get better with each season as the drops become second nature. Look at his tape and Mariota goes through his progressions quickly, not just deferring to his first read as many have said. He has an above average release time and is adept at reading defenses.
Winston comes with a lot of red flags. All of his misadventures at FSU are well documented and it should force a GM to reconsider using the highest draft pick on one with such a questionable moral code. The quarterback is the leader of the football team, the face of his university. It could be argued that Winston has damaged the reputation of Florida State as much as he has enhanced it. Mariota has no such character issues.
Immaturity does (or should) play a role in the decision making process. If Winston makes such bad decisions when he’s a poor college student, what is he going to do with his free time with millions of dollars in the bank? How will he behave when the gold-digging groupies of the NFL come after him? What are the odds Winston will be able to keep his nose clean his entire pro career, help his team win games and be the first person the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have ever signed to a second contract? Things can always change but I wouldn’t bet he will.
Both quarterbacks are the top of their class. Mariota has unlimited upside while Winston enters the league at the height of his powers. This is shaping up to be the millenium edition of the Manning/Leaf debate. In my view, Mariota is trending to be the next Steve Young or Cam Newton (another spread quarterback) while Winston looks like the next Byron Leftwich or Jamarcus Russell. (All the raw, physical tools in the world but lacking the self-discipline to put it all together). A quarterbacks’ most important weapon is his brain and I trust Mariota to be the film room junkie, first one in, last one out of the facility type of athlete that becomes a Hall-Of-Famer. Four years from now we’ll all look back and wonder how it was even a question.
Sorry Tampa, you got it wrong. As usual.
We’re less than two days from the Houston Texans being on the clock in the 2014 NFL Draft. Lots of moving and shaking will be done but one thing will be evident, the Oakland Raiders will always find a way to mess it up. The Raiders have their usual table in the draft top 10 lottery. Sitting at number five this season and while sure-fire, blue chip, can’t-miss prospects will be there, don’t underestimate the Raiders ability to ruin a wet dream. With that in mind, I took a look at their draft board. They are better picks than I expected but they will find a way back into the draft top 10 lottery in spite of them. Without further adieu, here is your Oakland Raiders draft class of 2014.
Rest in pieces, Raiders.
First Round: Jamarcus Russell, QB
The Raiders made a call to the league to make sure they could have an exception made for them so they could draft Russell. Their biggest bust is making a comeback and wouldn’t you know it, the Raiders need a quarterback. Transcripts from the call to the NFL league office went something like this:
OAK: We want to draft Jamarcus Russell.
NFL: You did draft him. In 2007.
OAK: I know, we’re drafting him again.
NFL: You don’t have to draft him. He’s a free agent.
OAK: It’s what Al would have wanted. It’s a Raiders thing, you wouldn’t understand! RAIDERS BABY!! RECOGNIZE!! WEST SIIIIIIIIDDDDEEEEE!!
OAK: RES PECT MAH AUTHORI TAHHHHHHH!!!!
NFL: Is this….Cartman?
According to Raiders logic the good news is, at 315 pounds Russell can play left tackle AND quarterback at the same time! One less position to pay.
Second Round: Maxwell The Pig, RB, Geico
With Darren McFadden on the injured list longer than Derrick Rose, the Raiders find themselves in need of a reliable replacement at running back. Maxwell is a great fit for the Raiders. He didn’t have a recordable 40-yard dash time because he kept running in circles than in a straight line. ‘It’s just him showing off his elusiveness.’ said one Raiders executive. ‘What he lacks in size he makes up in slipperiness. We plan on greasing him up and BOOM, instant touchdown! Just win baby…’ the exec continued. You still have to ask the question, exactly where is he going to carry the ball and will his shouting WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE while he zips down the field going to be flagged as taunting? Hmmm. One thing is for sure, he will have the hottest wife on the team.
Who has four hooves and just got drafted by the Raiders? THIS GUY!!
Third Round: Miss Cleo Special Teams/Offensive Coordinator
With Miss Cleo in the fold, they can make sure they’re always in contact with Al Davis. Miss Cleo will be used in the war room to speak directly to Davis, ensuring the Raiders will always know who to pick. With that in mind, Miss Cleo will be the first draftee in the history of the NFL to be signed to a lifetime contract. The Raiders also plan on using her as a dual threat, utilizing her fortune telling skills in the press box as an offensive coordinator. She will always know what the other team is doing, thus knowing what plays to run.
P.S. Upon further review, the Jamaican Miss Cleo was found to be from St. Louis and he 800 number was exposed as a fraud. We’ll just keep that to ourselves….
Call now for your free reeeedin!!
Round Four: Aaron Hernandez, TE, Bristol County House of Corrections
The Raiders want to make sure they own the rights to Hernandez and he definitely fits the Raiders mold. Wannabe gangster? Check. Taking selfies with his glock? Check. Trying to beat a murder case? Check. In Hernandez, the Raiders have their tight end of the future, somewhere between five years to life.
Round Five: Nate the Play 60 Kid, QB, 1st grade
The Raiders are looking to improve long term in this draft as well. The Raiders watched the tape (the commercial with Cam Newton) over and over, taking copious notes on how Nate warmed up. They observed how carefully he loosened his arm and could hear the passion in his voice when he spoke of becoming Cam’s momma’s favorite player. Can’t teach passion. Nate projects to be ready to start at the beginning of the 2030 season.
Round Six: The Old Spice ladies
The Raiders cheerleaders are suing the team for wage theft. According to the L.A. Times, the cheerleaders make $125 per game, which barely covers gas if they have to drive the 405 to get to work. The pittance they make breaks California Labor law and there is a case pending to hear the hotties in court. This just goes to show, the Raiders can’t even PAY people to take and interest in them.
In the meantime, the Raiders are going to need someone to take their places and the answer comes courtesy of Old Spice. The Old Spice ladies sing of their sons becoming ladies men before their very eyes with voices that can peel wallpaper. They’re not as hot as the Raiderettes but they do sing better than the Raiders play. So there’s that.
Round Seven: Darth Vader, DE, Galactic Empire. Vader is listed at a stout 6’4, 230 in the Raiders ‘Drafting for Beginners’ manual. His strengths are the abilities to keep his hands at pad level, being able to intercept a pass by stopping the ball mid-flight and using telekinesis to bring the ball to his hand, mind tricking the opposition, killing without remorse and moving surprisingly well for a man who wears a heavy cape everywhere he goes. Vader will be used to mind control opposing quarterbacks and in the event he gets injured, there are already many in the Oakland crowd dressed just like him so they can easily be subbed into the game without anyone knowing. Shrewd.
So, the Raiders should earn a draft grade on par with what they’ve done in past years with their drafts. Can you possibly have a grade worse than an F? Can we give them a G? There’s actually no point in grading them, the NFL should just move them into the Canadian Football League and ‘forget’ to tell them. They would never notice the difference outside of playing what seems to be a lot more ‘cold weather’ games.
Here’s to us, Chargers fans. No matter how bad things get, know it could always be worse. we could have been Raiders fans.
The Greg One