We can discuss their 40 times and their cone drills. We can discuss their leadership qualities and interview skills. We can discuss their off-the-field history – or lack thereof.
We can discuss whatever you want.
But in the final analysis, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota performed at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last week, and they – in the word of Dennis Green – are who we thought they were.
“I think what surprised me the most is the fact that Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota remained who they were throughout their respective collegiate careers – and still came through in the clutch,” CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Rob Rang said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Of course, Jameis Winston has that outgoing personality and that kind of nature. And rather than taking the combine throwing session too seriously, it was fascinating to watch him interact with the coaches, interact with his new teammates – those new receivers from every school out there – (and) patting them on the back after throwing absolute dimes throughout the workout.
“And Marcus Mariota, on the other hand, (was) kind of that silent assassin,” Rang continued. “Kind of staying off to himself, tossing the ball off to himself most of the time, not interacting with his receivers – but at the same time matching Jameis Winston with perfect pass after perfect pass. That is the big takeaway in my mind. I’ve been going to the combine for the last decade. I have never seen tow top-ranked quarterbacks come in and perform as brilliantly as Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota performed.”
And yet, both are polar opposites. Winston is more outgoing and more accustomed to running a pro-style offense, but he also comes with a lot of baggage. Can he keep his act together on and off the field? Mariota, meanwhile, is quiet and stoic, someone you’d want your daughter to marry. But can he make tight throws from the pocket against NFL defensive backs?
Those are questions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to have to answer – and maybe they already have.
“Let’s just kind of play this out,” Rang said. “Certainly I believe that it’s a relatively foregone conclusion that unless Jameis Winston does something just crazy in the next couple of months, he’s going to (be) the No. 1 overall pick with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And then it’ll be fascinating at No. 2 what the Tennessee Titans do. Because I do believe they have a young quarterback in Zach Mettenberger who very much fits in with Ken Whisenhunt’s offense, and I do not believe that Marcus Mariota is a great fit in that offense. At the same time, Zach Mettenberger’s off-field (issues) and lack of durability throughout his collegiate career – and even as a rookie – is something that Tennessee has to take into consideration.”
Jacksonville and Oakland, meanwhile, have the third and fourth picks, respectively. Both teams drafted quarterbacks last season in Blake Bortles and Derek Carr, and both finished 3-13.
“They’re not going to be picking a quarterback should a player like Marcus Mariota fall,” Rang said.
If that is the case, Mariota would likely go to the Jets at No. 6 or the Rams at No. 10.