The hottest debate heading into the NFL Draft is who is the better quarterback: Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota.
Former NFL players, football “experts” and every football fan have argued in favor of Winston or Mariota to the point of ad nauseam. Both men have similar paths to where they currently stand. Both are Heisman winners, both have extraordinary records as college quarterbacks and both were highly praised coming out of high school.
Jameis and Marcus are both athletic, very knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the game and both have experience in the national spotlight.
Tampa Bay has a difficult choice to make on Thursday, April 30th. Either man would be a great addition on the field, however, there seems to be an elephant in the room that no one wants to address: Jameis’s character issues.
As previously mentioned, there is no denying Jameis Winston’s talent and drive to win.
He has proven time and again that he is a winner when the lights are on, but when the lights are off it tends to be a different story. From the minute Jameis stepped on campus at FSU, he has consistently found himself in questionable situations. At times, Jameis seems to be the top story on networks like ESPN, not because of his exceptional play versus teams like Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, but because of the latest stunt he has pulled.
How many top tier QB’s in the NFL constantly find themselves in the national spotlight for off the field issues? You never see guys like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning being accused of sexual allegations or stealing seafood from a local supermarket.
Many analysts attribute Winston’s off the field issues to his lack of maturity or his lack of sense of direction.
It can be argued that many 19-20-year-old boys lack maturity, but for someone like Jameis, who has been in the national spotlight for two years, exemplifying maturity is a necessity. Not only has he hurt his reputation, he has also tarnished the prestigious name of Florida State University.
For their program to allow this behavior to continue shows a lack of judgment and discipline in their athletic department. Jimbo Fisher recently praised Jameis’s on field success. In addition, he addressed his off the field issues.
“What Jameis does, which is very unique and why people follow him, he was just being a normal student,” Fisher said. “He was trying to do what the other kids around him were (doing), and it was very immature. It was an immature thing to do, not an intentional thing to do with malice.”
I can understand that Fisher feels the need to support his former quarterback, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the above statement.
Since when has shoplifting and being accused of rape been characteristics of a “normal student?” Jimbo went on to say he believed it was maturity issues in lieu of character issues.
Although I don’t know Jameis personally, I have a difficult time believing Fisher based on Jameis’ past misconduct.
Winston needs to look at other talented players who have had off the field issues to get an idea of how these issues can ruin a player’s career. For examples of this, one can look to players such as Ray Rice or Michael Vick. Both players had loads of talent, only to see their on the field accomplishments overshadowed by their legal troubles.
If Winston wants to be a top NFL QB for years, he cannot go down the same path as these two individuals.
In addition the NFL has a stricter personal conduct policy than ever before.
Although both players are highly talented, it would be an easy decision for me as a General Manager. Winston and Mariota’s talent levels are very similar. Both men have the potential of being highly talented QB’s who can make an immediate impact in the NFL. If I were a GM, I would pick Mariota every time based not only on talent, but also on his character.
Mariota has shown the football community a prime example of what a quarterback should be.
He leads by example both on and off the field. Marcus truly exemplifies what a Heisman winner and potential No. 1 draft pick should look like. Tampa Bay’s GM Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith do not need to overthink this.
Mariota will be the better QB at the end of the day, and the organization will not have to worry about off the field issues throughout his career. Mariota’s leadership and character is what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to turn around the ship (ignore the unintentional pun).
The Bucs need to make the smart pick, not the risky one.
*Section Quote Credit to Safid Deen, Tallahassee Democrat
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports