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Comparing Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston to Top Gun

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Chris Sims has his perspective on the top two quarterbacks going into the 2015 NFL draft, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston.  Sims' take on the two QBs is on video, courtesy of Bleacher Report.

During the combine, Marcus Mariota confirmed he was the most athletic quarterback between himself and Winston.  Mariota also made all the throws as well as reveal very good footwork. I was impressed with Mariota's improvement and raised his stock in the draft. Unfortunately, Winston had a better passing day. I could not explain how because on the surface, both Winston and Mariota checked off all of the boxes passing. So why do I believe Winston had a better day?

Chris Sims nailed the assessment between the top two quarterbacks. Mariota was very robotic. Winston was fluid.

Here are more quotes in favor of Winston from an article from

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock was one of many who thought both top-rated quarterbacks had very good performances in Indianapolis.

"I thought Mariota and Winston and just about every quarterback here had a pretty good day," Mayock said. "Mariota showed good feet and above average arm strength and accuracy. ... Outstanding day for Mariota. All the individual components are there. Great feet, great athlete and the arm strength is more than adequate."

"Now Winston just has natural touch," Mayock said. "He throws an eminently catchable football. Unfortunately sometimes it's the defense that catches it. I I'm just teasing, because if you've seen my evaluations - on the field I love this kid. Quick feet. He does come out of a pro style offense more than any other quarterback here. He's used to being under center, and if you heard Kurt Warner talk - and I love to hear Kurt talk about quarterback play - what impresses him is he just naturally has touch. He's not trying to overpower you. ... The dude is electric."

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller said, "If you're being objective, easy to see Jameis is the best passer in this class."

ESPN's Todd McShay said that "Jameis Winston's natural accuracy is rare. Unique trait. Makes it look easy!"

NFL Network's Steve Mariucci said that "Jameis Winston is the best QB he has ever put on the white board."

NFL Network's Brian Billick said, "Winston is disproving the theory that a QB can't look good throwing the ball to WRs he's never worked with. Making it look so easy."

Mariota has improved over the years, transforming himself to become more of a pocket passer.  He had a four step drop because no one taught him to have a three or five step drop. At the combine, Mariota quelled the notions of the bad habit of the four step drop as Mariota had shown great footwork. This past year, Mariota executed at an amazing rate like a machine. This brings us back to Sims' assessment that Mariota is robotic. Take that assessment into a vacuum, being robotic is a great trait because it is repeatable and predictable. From a coaching standpoint, that is an alluring trait because you can coach a robot to do whatever it is you want the robot to do.

Then there is Winston, lively in personality and lively on the field. He was chatting up the wideouts and quarterbacks as if it were just another day in practice despite the combine representing a final exam. He has a history of lively conversations with his head coach on the sidelines during games, to which the head coach would then confirm Winston was correct on his assessment of the play in question. And yes, he takes chances.

On the field, Mariota is like Ice Man in the air - a movie reference to Top Gun. Mariota executes what is being told for him to do and do it very well.  Mariota checks all of the boxes. On paper, Mariota and Winston are equal, except Mariota does not take chances like Winston does on the field, again from a stat sheet perspective. And yet, Winston is just a natural at playing quarterback and sees things much differently like Maverick from Top Gun.

Similar to the movie characters presented above, both quarterbacks are at the top of their positions. Top Gun is a pilot's version of the NFL's combine. Ice man is tactical and robotic. Maverick is a natural, also cocky, and takes chances outside of what should not be done. Who would have thought that life would mimic fiction?

Both quarterbacks are head and shoulders above everyone else. I do not know who the Bucs will draft, but they do have the pick of the litter here with the first pick overall.