The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would have taken Marcus Mariota with the first overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft had Jameis Winston gotten into any kind of trouble before the draft, general manager Jason Licht told Pewter Report. Instead, Mariota went second overall to the Tennessee Titans.
That's a bit of a surprise confession, as general managers usually don't like to talk about players they didn't select. Licht has to be happy that Winston stayed out of trouble -- now we just have to hope that stays that way for the rest of his life.
Pewter Report managed to get a lot of details on the draft process out of both Jason Licht and director of player personnel Jon Robinson. And while the entire article is filled with details, the bits on the quarterbacks stand out the most.
"We ended up really liking Marcus," Licht said. "I think he has a good chance of being a good quarterback. His leadership style is definitely different. It's unique. I can't pinpoint any quarterback that is like him. I think there is a fire within him, a competitor within him. It's just different. We just really liked Jameis."
Mariota wound up being the second-best player on Tampa Bay's draft board, but it wasn't close between he and Winston.
This contradicts the draft board that Peter King leaked on Monday, where the Bucs had Leonard Williams second and Mariota fourth. Which is a bit of an odd conclusion, given that Williams is a fairly poor scheme fit and the Bucs had been hinting for months that they'd take a quarterback number one overall. Pewter Report speculates that was a board from earlier in the process.
Licht actually heaps praise on Mariota in that article, shooting down the idea that he was limited because of his scheme, but the general manager compared Jameis Winston to Dan Marino and Tom Brady in terms of fiery demeanor and personality. I'm not a big fan of making decisions based on players' (perceived) personalities, but there are good on-field reasons to take Winston, too. And Licht talks about them.
"With Jameis, you see a lot of the qualities we're looking for in a quarterback. You see toughness and the ability for him to stand in the pocket and face pressure and still deliver the football to the target under duress. You see that he has mechanically improved since last fall after working with George Whitfield. That's something that we saw that was good - quickening his release. From a directing traffic standpoint, he's audible at the line of scrimmage, recognizing coverage, recognizing blitzes. Seeing him physically do that at the line of scrimmage, that's what a pro quarterback has to do.
The entire article is worth reading, so make sure you do that. There's tons of good detail in there.