Wednesday draft notes — Marcus Mariota & Jameis Winston

Marcus Mariota isn’t a big talker. Who cares?

Greg Bedard at has written a feature on Marcus Mariota’s pro-prospects. The headline for the piece is ‘Everything’s There But the Fire‘.

Here’s how the story begins…

“He scrambles like Kaepernick, sheds tacklers like Roethlisberger and throws with preternatural precision. It all points to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota as the No. 1 pick next year and sure-fire NFL franchise QB.”

Bedard goes on to further compliment Mariota…

“Mariota looks as if he’s been designed by a franchise-quarterback computer program.”

“He also has a bulletproof work ethic and a desire to be great. Raised in Honolulu, he’s kind and humble and soft-spoken and has never been linked to any sort of off-the-field trouble.”

“Mariota throws the ball with a quick, smooth and quiet over-the-top motion… he doesn’t take a long stride when stepping into his throws, which is the foundation of a quick release.”

“Then there’s Mariota’s speed. Even after Michael Vick, Vince Young, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, Mariota may project as the best dual-threat quarterback ever to come out of college.”

All of these points come with a counter. A negative to temper the extreme positives, albeit only slightly.

“Does he play it too cool?”

Bedard later adds…

“Outwardly, the concern is understandable. Before Michigan State, the biggest nonconference game in Autzen Stadium history, it wasn’t Mariota who stoked the flames by screaming encouragement at the team; it was senior cornerback Dior Mathis. And as the Spartans scored 20 straight points to take a 27–18 lead, Mariota was seen on the sideline only quietly clapping or giving players fist bumps.”

Five NFL execs were asked about this for the piece and one replied he didn’t think it was a fair question. I sort of agree.

Mariota is a fantastic player, as Bedard acknowledges. In the modern NFL he might be pretty much the ideal QB prospect. He has the physical strength to make the downfield throws and the accuracy for any team looking to play with a quicker tempo. He can be a read-option threat, he can run for positive yardage and he’ll extend plays against a productive pass rush. He is Kaepernick-plus and he’s capable of being effective in both conventional and creative schemes.

Who cares if he’s not an alpha male?

Some of Seattle’s success in player recruitment is down to constantly asking what a player can do, while avoiding lingering too much on what he can’t.

Any team doubting Mariota’s skills because of a supposed issue like this deserves to lose games and be in position to draft him with the top pick. Nobody — nobody — comes close to his level of potential heading into next year’s draft. It might be an issue if he was moody, aloof and unresponsive. Every report you read about Mariota suggests he’s the ideal team player with a great work ethic. He just isn’t a big talker.

You could even argue his ability to keep his emotions in check is a major positive trait. So what if he wasn’t shouting at his team mates during a tough stretch in the Michigan State game? His ability to take each play at a time, remain composed and ultimately lead an emphatic comeback is surely only a good thing?

A quarterback doesn’t have to be the most outspoken, vocal leader on the team. Russell Wilson is a very determined, hard working individual. He leads by example. I sense — with some confidence — he’s not a chest beating, emotive speech-maker. Seattle’s players probably turn to Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman for that kind of motivation — and previously Red Bryant. In fairness Bedard himself name-checks several Super Bowl winners, including Eli Manning and Joe Flacco, who have similar personalities to Mariota.

We as draft enthusiasts shouldn’t waste any time worrying about this — and more importantly, neither should NFL teams.

Mariota will be a terrific player at the next level, giving a team an instant identity, a playmaker and a cause for optimism.

Jameis Winston to miss one half against Clemson this weekend

A good example of someone who is viewed as a vocal leader in his dressing room — and very much an alpha male — is Florida State’s Jameis Winston…

Winston won the Heisman last year and led Florida State to a national title. However, the character concerns he presents are much more serious. This latest act doesn’t touch the seriousness of some of the previous issues he’s had — it’s just another sign of immaturity.

Nobody expects college players to be saintly in their approach. Who can say they were perfect, upstanding citizens aged 18-21? Yet Winston has a lot to lose and needed to keep his head down this season. He also has a lot to work on technically — especially a long-winding release that must be addressed to avoid growing comparisons to Byron Leftwich. He’s not as accurate as Mariota and he’s not the same kind of runner. It was strange watching him squint at the sideline last season and refuse to wear contact lenses. And now this.

Michael David Smith at PFT sums it up pretty well:

Winston’s latest offense is that he stood up in a crowded area of the Florida State campus and screamed, “F–k her right in the pu–y.” He apparently thought that was funny because that phrase has been spoken on some viral videos, and some pranksters have managed to say it on live television.

If this were Winston’s first offense, it might be written off as a sophomoric joke. But it’s far from the first offense for Winston, who was accused of raping a fellow Florida State student in a case that led to no criminal charges but a subsequent investigation into whether the school and the local police botched their handling of the matter. Winston was also previously suspended from the school’s baseball team for shoplifting. There’s a widespread belief that Winston just doesn’t get how a high-profile athlete is supposed to conduct himself.

For me, he’s not ready to be a NFL pro. Some people need longer to mature. Remember, this is only Winston’s second season as a starting college quarterback. He’s a redshirt sophomore.

By January he could be a double National Champion with nothing else left to prove. For the sake of his NFL career, he might be best served going for the hat-trick. Even then — the FSU staff clearly aren’t getting through to him, which is probably why they’ve taken this latest measure to suspend him for such a key game.

Either way, it’s hard to imagine any franchise spending a first round pick on Winston in 2015 — however successful he is.


  1. Miles

    I have a feeling Winston would never make it in an NFL locker room with that kind of behavior. He’d get out in his place real quick. He seems to have an heir of charisma and professionalism in post game interviews, but off the field he’s a different person.

    Whoever has the first pick likely takes Mariota. Hopefully that will not be St. Louis. Our division would be insane if that happened.

    • Michael M.

      I’m not scared. St Louis will find a way to screw it up anyway.

      • redzone086

        No I believe seattle has shown the division how to run a team. I would be worried. More so I just want to go back to the 2000s when we didn’t worry about losing in the division.

  2. Michael M.

    I would take Mariota over Winston without needing to think twice. That said, I think Jameis still goes first round, just not 1st overall. Maturity could (should) come with age. Teams are willing to look past minor indiscretions if the talent is there. Remember when Cam Newton was coming out? He had all sorts of character “red flags”. Stolen laptop, allegations of cheating, his apparent inability to cope with losing, people saying he seemed “fake”. At the end of the day, none of that mattered because he was just so damn gifted.

    Of course, to my eye, Jameis Winston isn’t nearly as good a prospect as Cam Newton was on the field (Which is why he won’t go #1) He’s still pretty darn good though. Easily first round good. Just look at some of the QB’s that have gone in the first round in the last decade. Christian Ponder, Old Man Weeden, Tim Tebow… Even Byron Leftwich went 7th overall, long release and all.

    • Rob Staton

      Newton’s issues to be fair were not anywhere close to the scale of Winston’s. The ‘fake’ stuff was one man’s opinion in the media. The laptop thing always sounded worse than it was. He’d also left Florida after the issues there, gone to the JUCO level to prove he wanted to play the game and then returned to college football to win a national title with Auburn. What’s more, at Auburn he was the team. Everything depended on him. He was almost solely responsible for that title. In many ways he’d shown increased maturity and that he’d turned a corner — and that he was a superstar in the making.

      Winston on the other hand is still making mistakes and some of the issues hanging over his head are a lot more serious, as the PFT link in the piece explain. He’s not the same quality of player either. If he declares for the 2015 I think he’ll be in for a shock.

      • Arias

        Yeah Winston has been a bonehead regarding his past troubles with the law but I honestly found his latest transgression you quoted from PFT to be a media hyped non-story. He obviously has some growing up to do, but standing up and saying that sounded very 19ish. If that phrase was the current sophomoric fad of the moment, as it sounds like it was, I could totally have seen myself standing up and saying something dumb like that when I was in college at 19 and goofing off.

        • Kip Earlywine

          Totally agree. He yelled something on campus as a joke. BFD. The media is catering to the sanctimonious outrage crowd right now because it’s great for clicks. To me that’s what this story reveals more than anything.

          What is going to hurt Winston is that his immaturity and college success while lacking elite tools is excruciatingly similar to Johnny Manziel, and Manziel looks to be on his way to “bust” status right now. It’s early and things can change, but a lot of people viewed Manziel as a pass/fail QB and he has not acquited himself so far. I think if teams did the 2014 draft over today Manziel would probably be a 3rd or 4th round pick.

          There are some who have suggested that Manziel is on his way to failure because he hasn’t been serious enough about the undertaking of being an NFL QB, especially for a QB who measured under six feet tall. People look at Wilson and see a guy that defied odds because he worked his ass off.

          Winston is 6’4″, 227, and has better tools than Manziel, but I think the comparisons will be inevitable anyway. In that sense, it might be wise for Winston to wait an extra year before hitting the NFL. Not just to distance himself from some bad press, but to make the inevitable Manziel comparisons feel like old news.

          • Rob Staton

            Got to disagree on Winston, Kip. FSU clearly don’t think it’s no big deal given they’ve now turned it into a full game suspension. Check this out from PFT today, think it hits the right notes:

            “Florida State announced late last night that Winston will not play at all in today’s game against Clemson. He had initially been suspended for the first half of the game for screaming an obscene phrase in the student union; the suspension for the second half reportedly comes because Florida State discovered that Winston lied to school authorities about some of the circumstances surrounding that incident.

            Winston, of course, has had many prior off-field incidents that will make NFL teams question whether his immense talent is worth the headaches. By far the most serious is the accusation from a female Florida State student that he raped her. Winston was not charged, and the Tallahassee Police Department botched that investigation so thoroughly that we’ll never know what really happened.

            Winston’s other incidents were far less serious than a sexual assault, but the sum total of them is to question whether he cares at all about the potential consequences of his actions: He was arrested for shoplifting crab legs. He was involved in a BB gun battle that damaged his apartment complex, and hours later Florida State police stopped him and handcuffed him for carrying a pellet gun near campus (he said he was using it to shoot at squirrels). Before last season’s national championship game, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher kicked Winston out of practice and explained later that he wanted Winston to understand that “it’s not about you.””

  3. Sam Jaffe

    Mariota is very special, but he still is dwarfed by Andrew Luck when it comes to “stereotype quarterback model coming out of college”. A lot of people don’t understand that Luck is as fast and all-around athletic as almost any other player on the field because of the color of his skin. In addition, he’s got great pocket awareness, great accuracy and he’s tall and strong. In my opionion, Mariota is a shade worse in each category. But I do think he’s worthy of being the first draft pick nex year. While I read the above piece, I felt a chill going down my spine as I realized that it might just be possible that St. Louis gets him.

    • Colin

      Let’s pump the brakes there a little bit. For as much hype as Andrew Luck received, we haven’t quite seen the return on investment. He’s been very good, but he hasn’t lived up to the billing as the next Peyton Manning. He’s still making several bad decisions every game that his team has to overcome and he’s hardly a finished product. I don’t think Mariota not receiving the same draft hype is an indictment that he can’t be a franchise QB. Frankly, it’s unfair to compare him to Luck. Andrew Luck was seen as the best thing in the last 15 years; not every franchise QB gets that level of hype coming out.

  4. Justin

    Obviously I wouldn’t consider getting rid of Russell Wilson but it seems that if any QB could step in and have an impact close to what Wilson has…it would be Mariota. Seems to have a lot of the same traits.

  5. MJ

    I easily take Mariota over Winston as well.

    That being said, I really do think there is some merit to the questions regarding Mariota’s demeanor. Oddly enough, his personality/outward demeanor seem best suited for a game like baseball or golf. Basically, a sport that requires consistency over extremely long stretches of time, where you literally cannot afford to be overly emotional.

    Weirdly enough, this (IMO) is both great and terrible for football. I think there needs to be a middle ground. The great QBs in the NFL are most certainly cool/calm, but I think we’ve all seen Tom Brady, RW, Philip Rivers, etc get fired up when it’s needed. Can we say that makes the difference? It’s ultimately impossible to judge, but I don’t think either side is wrong with their own personal take on this matter.

    Now, I’m definitely not saying that Mariota doesn’t care. He wouldn’t be this good if he didn’t, but I really do think there is some merit to this “concern.” Like any great leader, you need to be consistent, but at the same time be willing to light a fire under someone’s butt. As a former college baseball player, nothing drove me crazier than our best player (in a big situation), showing little to no emotion, no matter what the result is. Now, you can’t afford to be that way for an entire season, but there are definitely spots/moments, in which this can be a big factor.

    This is such an ambiguous summation of my thoughts, but in a weird way, this (IMO) is both a non-issue and a big deal (how does that make sense). It’s a non-issue because his consistency/performance speaks for itself. It’s a big deal because football is simply different than any other sport in the world, and as much as consistency is a huge driver to success, we’ve also seen emotions (when properly utilized) be a major factor.

    Just my own thoughts…good work Rob.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Mariota feels like an odd blend of Colin Kaepernick and Matt Ryan to me. Meaning, he will probably be a scary good QB in the NFL most weeks, until he faces a physical D that bullies him.

  6. Rodolfo

    My friend had a class w/ Mariota this past school year. He was surprised at how well spoken he was and couldn’t even tell he was an athlete in class, let alone the starting QB of a major program. He said how Mariota just acted like one of the guys and class and my friend was just surprised at how down to earth he was in the small group class meetings. Bet he’ll be a great pro, just hope not for the Rams!

  7. bigDhawk

    Mariota’s supposed lack of sideline fire is a complete non-starter for me with regard to his draft status. He will go number one overall to the Rams, whether they earn that spot or have to trade up a couple spots with Oakland. Winston will go in the teens or early twenties to Dallas.

  8. TurnagainTide

    Beadard’s article likely comes after he rented the movie “Draft Day” again Lol. I love Mariota.

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