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Peter King clears up Buccaneers draft board confusion

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Peter King of The MMQB published the top five of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2015 NFL draft board. As a reminder, here's that draft board:

1. Jameis Winston.
2. Leonard Williams.
3. Dante Flower.
4. Marcus Mariota.
5. Todd Gurley.

But on Friday, Pewter Report noted that Marcus Mariota would have been the Bucs' pick had they passed on Jameis Winston, directly contradicting King's report. And they got Jason Licht to go on record to say as much, too. So what's up with that? Well, Peter King explains in today's MMQB.

I think, in response to Pewter Report, which covers all things Buccaneers, saying that I had the list of top five men on the Tampa Bay draft board incorrect, I say: I absolutely stand by my list. That list, in order: Jameis Winston, Leonard Williams, Dante Fowler, Marcus Mariota, Todd Gurley. Pewter Report said Mariota was actually number two on the list. The truth: My list is correct. But the Bucs were going to take one of the two quarterbacks number one. It didn't mean they had the quarterbacks 1-2 on their board. Teams don't always take the best player available, and the Bucs had decided long ago to take a quarterback number one. But they had Williams and Fowler over Mariota on their big board.

So, the draft board that Peter King published was closer to a pure ranking of player quality, independent of position, while Pewter Reports' two-player ranking was either adjusted for need, or for the impact each player would have on the team. Teams don't draft the "best" available player -- they draft the player that will have the biggest impact on their team, which is mediated by position needs, scheme fits and coaching preferences.

Regardless, the most interesting part of that draft board wasn't that Mariota was ranked fourth. It was that Todd Gurley was ranked fifth. Is that the consequence of a board that wasn't ranked for the Bucs' needs and scheme, or is it that the team genuinely values running backs that highly? Given the rumored interest in Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray, I'd guess it's the latter.