ESPN's Mel Kiper has put out another mock draft -- his second of the year. As he did last time, he's projecting Jameis Winston to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kiper views Winston as the better on-field quarterback, which is why he has him at number one. Easy, right?
I had Winston here in my first mock, and while I believe the Buccaneers will take a close look at Marcus Mariota here and make him an option, I project at this point they end up with the superior talent, assuming their inquiries and many questions into his past off-field behavior and maturity are answered and they feel comfortable. That's still a big "if." Todd and I discussed it more here, but the reality is Winston is a major talent, in a category with some of the big-name No. 1 QB picks we've seen. However, it's all clouded by the off-field stuff. If he lands here, the Buccaneers have a nice set of weapons for him, and he's the most NFL-ready QB in the draft, maybe the only one in terms of a true understanding of an NFL-level scheme. He's big, durable, strong-armed and has both a high football IQ and an ability to read, anticipate and process at a very high level what defenses are trying to do. It's not a shock if he's not taken here; I just think it's the likeliest outcome at this stage.
Jameis Winston is now the consensus number one pick, although Marcus Mariota hasn't disappeared from the stage entirely. He's still a realistic option, but he's becoming less and less prominent. With a few months to go we'll see whether that sticks, or whether he'll come surging back as teams dig more into each player's background and get to interview and work them out.
For now, Dan Kadar still had Marcus Mariota at the top of his mock draft on Monday, giving Winston as the obvious alternate option, but Kadar's been alternating the two. The only people who seem to stick with Mariota at the top appear to by-and-large be doing so because of Winston's off-field issues, and the strong consensus is the Winston is simply better pro prospect from an on-field perspective.