The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are widely believed to be picking Jameis Winston with the number one pick. Every local beat writer I know is convinced of that fact, we've seen national reports backing up that belief, and the Bucs themselves have been complimentary of Winston, repeatedly noting that his off-field issues are simply immaturity.
And yet, and yet! It seems we can't have a draft without at least some uncertainty until the very end. In comes Ron Jaworski, telling Philadelphia magazine that his sources say the Bucs will draft Marcus Mariota number one overall.
"The latest I'm hearing now from my sources around the league, who are pretty wired in, is that he's going to go number one now to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," said Jaworski.
"Mariota's stock, remember it was quiet for a while? And there's a reason for that. There's a lull every year until about 30 days before the draft. Now the coaches get involved. Prior to that, it's the scouts, it's the roadies that are filling out the paper work. Now the coaches get involved. Now team owners get involved. Now general managers get involved. So you're starting to see, in my opinion, Winston's stock starting to slide a little bit and Mariota's stock starting to go up a little bit."
We had something similar happen last year, when national media kept floating the idea that the Bucs would go after Johnny Manziel, while most (though not all) local beat writers were convinced they wouldn't. That time, the local guys turned out to be right. And that's where my money would be right now, too.
There is one wild card in this whole thing, and that's Jameis Winston's off-field issues. If the Bucs have come to believe, after doing further research, that Winston's issues are such that they can't trust him to be the face of the franchise, that may be enough to pass on him. Similarly, if they're not comfortable with his being accused of rape, for which he was never criminally charged, they may pass on him as well.
Those are things we can't evaluate. We simply don't know for certain how the Bucs feel. But every indication so far has been that they will take Winston with the number one overall pick, Jaworski's sources notwithstanding.