The NFL scouting combine is coming to an end for the quarterbacks, which means we now have some reports on both Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston's interviews. We heard that Mariota was doing very well there, but Winston has been outstanding in that aspect, too.
"He's probably the smartest player I've ever interviewed," one anonymous personnel executive told Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report. "Ever. Football IQ as good as I've ever seen."
Freeman even cites Peyton Manning as a comparison. Now that's impressive.
Winston's face-to-face interactions with NFL teams are by far the most important part of his offseason, because his main question marks come off the field. He has to convince N\Fl teams, and especially the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that they can trust him. And it sounds like that's exactly what he did in these interviews -- every report indicates that he was outstanding and answered every question teams had.
Winston and Mariota both threw at the combine too, but that really told us nothing new. We know both guys can throw the ball well, we don't need to see them do it to with no pass rushes against uncovered receivers. One minor point: Mariota did do under-center-style dropbacks and he looked fluid doing so. That's important, because a big question mark for him is how quickly he'll transition -- but dropping back without a pass rush is obviously very different from doing so in a game situation.
Similarly, Jameis Winston's release looked a little quicker and his footwork more consistent than he showed during the season, so that's a solid improvement for Winston as well. Basically, both of them did well in the QB drills. Which is exactly what we expected.
The only knock against Jameis Winston to come out of the combine is that he is not remotely the athlete Marcus Mariota is. Winston ran a 4.97-second 40-yard dash, compared to Mariota's 4.52 seconds. Winston had a vertical jump of just 28.5 inches, compared to Mariota's 36 inches. In the broad jump, Mariota managed 121 inches against Winston's 103 inches. Those are some pretty huge differences. But at the quarterback position, that's not all that relevant. The ability to play from the pocket is far more important than his athletic prowess.
As is football intelligence. And Winston has aced that test.