Every day we seem to be hearing more rumors about both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Who do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prefer? Who do analysts and beat writers think they'll pick? It's changing every day now. As it is today: ESPN's Todd McShay went on the First Draft podcast and claimed that he keeps hearing love for Marcus Mariota from the Bucs.
"I keep hearing from people close to that organization that there is a lot more love for Marcus Mariota than there seems to be in the majority of other organizations," Todd McShay said. "But I also recognize we're in early February and a lot can happen between now and then and who really knows, because teams, organizations haven't decided yet."
I'll give the Bucs one thing: they've gotten ridiculously good at disguising their actual intent.
McShay also called Winston the best quarterback on tape, and voiced some concerns about Mariota as he's done throughout the past few months.
"In evaluating [Mariota] on tape, as much as I love him the individual and I love the intangibles and I love everything in terms of his skillset in parts, I don't think it's all together and I don't think he's where he needs to be to play the quarterback position in the NFL at a high enough level and to have sustained success. And there are a lot of other people in the league who I've talked to recently who have done the film work as well that agree with that."
In the same podcast, former Philadelphia Eagles front office executive Louis Riddick didn't agree with Todd McShay, and even claimed that he showed a lot of pro-style attributes in his final game.
"If you watch the Ohio State game and you just watch the route tree they used in that game and you watched him execute it, it didn't look quite the same as a lot of the routes that they were running and a lot of the schemes and the way they were trying to attack people during the regular season. It looked much more pro-oriented in that game.
"And I thought he was dynamite. As far as his mechanics, as far as where his eyes were taking him, as far as how he was delivering the ball on time, in stride, into places. Yes he hit some wide-open people, everyone hits wide-open people, people hit wide-open people in the NFL too, it's not like everyone has someone blanketed on them at all times.
"I'm really warming up to Marcus [Mariota]'s prospects of being able to be someone who just doesn't need the zone-read component, but someone who can actually succeed on third down, which is where as we all know people make their money. [..] Let's put it this way: when Robert Griffin was coming out compared to Marcus [Mariota] and what I've seen of him, I think Marcus [Mariota] has much better prospects of being able to succeed on third down than Robert [Griffin III] ever did."
Those are some strong words from Riddick, who has a long history in the NFL and worked under Jason Licht with the Philadelphia Eagles for one year. That's not to say that he was down on Winston's on-field prowess, though. He thought Winston was tremendous on the field.
"There's nothing Jameis [Winston] can't do from a pro perspective, from his skill set. There's nothing he can't do. It's all gonna be about, what are you gonna tolerate, what are you okay with, and what's your plan going forward with him from a social and character perspective."
But Riddick also made another good point: with Winston, it's all about being the team with the right contacts with Florida State. The people who won't blow smoke about his character -- whether that smoke is positive or negative.
"Who are the teams that have the people, that know people, that will give it to them straight," Riddick said. "Because everybody has different sources at different schools. There's a player right now in the NFL who I got information on when I went to his school, and he's doing stuff now that this guy nailed it to a T. He told me this would happen. [..] And I know there are other teams who had no idea, none."
"I would not want to be making this decision, man," Riddick said. "It would be ripping my guts out. Because you know he's good. But you also know it can just go nuclear on you at any moment. I would rather pass and kind of miss and just be like if he goes somewhere else and does good you hope you just say 'Hey look, you win some, you lose some.' I would rather do that quite honestly, than have all the things that in my gut and my experience tell me this is something you just can't trust, and then have it come back and bite you that way. I would never be able to live with that. Never."
If the Buccaneers have the right contacts at Florida State, they should be able to make the right decision with Winston, whichever decision that may be. And if any team has those connections, it has to be the Bucs given the shared history and locality,