NFL executives are going to have a major decision on their hands in the coming months, as they weigh the merits of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota – one of whom will almost certainly be selected with the No. 1 overall pick.
So, which member of the Heisman Trophy fraternity is Doug Flutie backing?
“It’s a great debate; it really is,” the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback said on Tiki and Tierney. “If you’re going to give up or use your top draft choice, your No. 1 pick, I’m going with Marcus Mariota because there’s less variables. Maybe we read too much into the off-the-field issues with Jameis Winston. But Marcus Mariota, even though he’s running the spread offense and all that, he’s 6-4. He’s a big guy that has a strong arm, throws the ball (well) and (is a great decision-maker) and doesn’t make mistakes. Jameis is a great talent, doesn’t lose, has a knack for throwing teams on his back and saying, ‘Let’s go win.’ A lot of his situation will be determined through all the interview process, I’m sure.”
While Winston may be seen as the safer choice given that he played in a traditional drop-back system at Florida State, what must Mariota do to prove he can be elite in the NFL?
“Well, his biggest challenge, I think, is can he be successful from the pocket?” Flutie said. “He’s a bright guy. I don’t think there’s any question there. There may be a little learning curve because of the style of offense. I think part of the problem is you see his athleticism, (but you forget how big he is). Marcus has plenty of arm strength to get it done at that level. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
There’s also little down in Flutie’s mind which team will win the national championship when No. 2 Oregon plays No. 4 Ohio State on January 12 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“I like Oregon,” Flutie said. “The pace of their offense, they wear you down throughout the game. They slow down the rush as the game goes. It all starts with their running game, but Marcus Mariota doesn’t make mistakes. I just think they’re too explosive. With Cardale Jones at quarterback, Ohio State has been successful, but they’ve also been very cautious with him and not had to turn him loose. He throws the ball deep extremely well. He’s a big guy that can take off and run. But you go back to the fourth quarter in the (Sugar Bowl against Alabama), Ohio State made one play: That was (Ezekiel) Elliott’s long 85-yard run.”
Elliott’s run gave Ohio State a 42-28 lead with less than four minutes to go. The Buckeyes held on for a 42-35 win, with Tyvis Powell picking off Blake Sims on the final play of the game.
“Other than (Elliott’s run), they were negative yards (in the fourth quarter) and struggled,” Flutie said. “As that game was becoming crunch time, their offense kind of disappeared.”