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Lovie Smith says Marcus Mariota translates to the NFL

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we had a lot of quotes from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that seemed to defend Jameis Winston's off-field issues. One thing we didn't highlight was that the Bucs also defended Marcus Mariota. While the quotes yesterday certainly implied that Winston is more likely to be the pick, it's not like they wrote off Marcus Mariota either.

Specifically, Lovie Smith was really supportive of Marcus Mariota's transition to the NFL, quotes from the Tampa Tribune:

"Going back to the part where you say Marcus' game doesn't translate to the NFL, I'm not a part of that group,'' Smith said. "And the reason I say that is he's big, he's strong, he's got a strong arm. And all of the throws that (an NFL) quarterback has to make, I think we've seen him make those throws. He's athletic. He can buy time with his feet.

"And then there's (the small) amount of interceptions he's thrown (14 in three full college seasons). I know a lot of the passes he's thrown are screens, but you can't blame him for the system he's in. That's where he is and they won a lot of games with that system. But a part of that system is throwing the ball downfield, also.''

Lovie Smith taking down the main argument against Marcus Mariota: that he's not "pro-ready." Mariota hasn't operated in a pro-style system, which means there's more for him to learn, but it's not like that's an insurmountable hurdle. Many of the things the Bucs would ask him to do are things he has already done in college, just not as frequently as Jameis Winston.

Similarly, Stephen White breaks down the "system quarterback" argument in his very first podcast ever. Well worth a listen, as per usual with the former Bucs defensive lineman. 

His critique of Jameis Winston's interceptions is particularly interesting, noting that it looks like Winston certainly made some pre-determined throws which led to interceptions.

I can't agree with his suggesting Leonard Williams, though. I love Williams -- he's not J.J. Watt, but he's a terrific player. He wouldn't be a terrific fit in the Bucs' system, although White thinks he can play base defensive end in a 4-3.

But here's the thing. The Bucs must find a quarterback this offseason. Both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are very good prospects -- better than any other prospects we've seen since Andrew Luck, I'd argue. If they don't select a quarterback here, we'll see another year of Mike Glennon. And no, I am not okay with that.

But while we've mostly talked about Jameis Winston recently, Marcus Mariota is still a very good