Draft Buzz: Will Winston Or Mariota Slide?

Jayne Kamin / USA Today

Jayne Kamin / USA Today

Here are some draft-related notes for you to check out.

Ryan O’Hanlan of Grantland wonders how far Marcus Mariota will fall before draft night:

For the entire college football season — literally, from the beginning to the end — Marcus Mariota was the next great quarterback prospect. He could throw, he could run, he could decipher a placard decorated with Jim Rome’s face and a fat chipmunk at speeds that’d make Fibonacci blush, and, well, he had character. With the highest level of the sport moving, however slowly, toward accepting the spread principles of the Oregon offense, and with the NFL increasingly dominated by mobile quarterbacks, it seemed a given that Mariota would be the no. 1 pick come April.

But, as noted NFL draft theorist Francis Bacon once said, “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts.” And now, according to Todd McShay’s latest mock draft, Mariota is set to fall to no. 6 and be drafted by the New York Jets. Jameis Winston, who was last seen throwing a ball toward his own end zone in a fit of primal terror, is now the close-to-consensus no. 1 pick. Never mind that Mariota hasn’t actually played football since the beginning of January. Or that he threw for some 600 more yards, 17 more touchdowns, and 14 fewer interceptions than Winston. Or that Jameis Winston happens to be Jameis Winston. As Aaron Rodgers and Teddy Bridgewater have shown us in the past, even if you’ve proven — week after week, in actual, real, live football games — that you play the position of quarterback better than all of your peers by a significant margin, not everyone will believe that you can PLAY QUARTERBACK IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE.

Meanwhile, Chris Chase of USA Today believes that Winston isn’t worthy of a top-10 selection:

Jameis Winston got by on sheer talent alone, which isn’t enough in the NFL. That’s why so many wideouts turn into busts. They go through high school and college and dominate because they’re simply taller, faster and more athletic. Then they get to the pros and that’s not the case. Does Winston have the fortitude to improve himself when he’s no longer the best athlete on the field?

The talent-level should be irrelevant in the Bucs’ choice. Winston just had a three-year job interview for the NFL, in which he acted like an utter buffoon throughout. From the crab legs to jumping on the table to dressing for a game for which he was suspended, Winston has acted with the maturity of a high schooler who flunked junior year.

We haven’t even addressed Winston’s far more serious on-campus problem, one which we’ll leave to the reporters and lawyers.

What, Winston is going to get to Tampa and all of a sudden he’ll become a mature adult with $23 million guaranteed coming his way and more freedom than ever? Hey, I hope he does. More power to him. People turn their lives around all the time. I’m not rooting against Jameis Winston at all. But he’s shown neither a desire, nor the ability to become a different person.

Apparently Louis Riddick of ESPN is in favor of Chip Kelly reuniting with Mariota:

Please…let Chip Kelly get M. Mariota. Please. I want to see this…

— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) February 9, 2015

Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com released his latest mock draft and has the Eagles selecting CB Quinten Rollins of Miami University of Ohio:

After a four-year career on the basketball court, Rollins returned to football in 2014 and was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, showing first-round traits as a cornerback that could fill a need for Philadelphia.

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News released his first mock draft and has the Eagles selecting Mychal Kendricks‘ brother, Eric Kendricks, a linebacker out of UCLA:

I’m very familiar with Chip Kelly’s big-people-beat-up-little-people mantra. But a lack of height hasn’t bothered Eric’s brother Mychal, and so far, it hasn’t hindered Eric, either.

Josh Norris of Rotoworld ranked his top 100 prospects and has Kendricks ranked 7th, comparing him to Cowboys LB Sean Lee:

One of the best coverage linebackers I have seen. His Virginia game is my favorite of any prospect this year. Aggressive. Attacks ball carriers rather than just waiting at the second level. Best at working around blocks with angles and quicks but not afraid to hold his own.

Mel Kiper Jr. unveiled his second mock draft of the season and tentatively has the Eagles taking Washington CB Marcus Peters:

I can’t leave all the Eagles fans tweeting at me and asking the big question hanging, so I’ll say this: Of course I can fathom a scenario where they move up (or at least look to) and target the QB who made it tough for Chip Kelly to leave for a good NFL job when he did. But I can’t project a trade here, and just as many close Eagles observers know that help at cornerback is badly needed. Peters doesn’t come without question marks — he was dismissed from the team at Washington this past season — but if it’s purely a question of talent, he’s a potential steal at this point in the first round. He has loads of natural talent, and playmaker instincts to go with very good ball skills, and he makes any secondary better if he’s playing up to his potential.

Former Southeastern Louisiana QB and Chip Kelly pupil Bryan Bennett talked to Optimum Scouting about his motivation for making it in the NFL:

I’m not gonna lie, I have a chip on my shoulder. I was so close to my dream – starting at QB for Oregon and playing in National Championship games. I let that dream slip away once, but I won’t let the NFL get away from me. I love this game, and I won’t let anyone outwork me. That’s why when my agent called me and told me to get on a red- eye from San Diego to Mobile so I could practice the next day at the Senior Bowl, I didn’t even hesitate. The chance to compete with the best of the best? You couldn’t have stopped me!

Joe Klatt of FoxSport.com ranked the top-five prospects at each position and gave Alabama’s Landon Collins the nod as the best safety in this year’s draft:


1. *Landon Collins — Alabama*

2. Cody Prewitt — Ole Miss

3. Gerod Holliman — Louisville*

4. Chris Hackett — TCU (NR)*

5. Kurtis Drummond — Michigan State

Analysis: Landon Collins is the clear class of this group and is the only safety I’m comfortable giving a first-round grade. Chris Hackett makes an appearance because of his body of work this season against some very tough wide receivers in the Big 12. TCU corners generally have a good knowledge of the game and have found success in the NFL.

Eric Galko of the Sporting News also ranked the top prospects by position and named Trae Waynes as the top cornerback:


1. Trae Waynes, Michigan State

2. P.J. Williams, Florida State

3. Jalen Collins, LSU

4. Quentin Rollins, Miami (OH)

5. Marcus Peters, Washington

No corner merits a top 10 pick at this point, but the class features strong options for teams in the middle of the first round and through the second. Waynes has the best upside, and he may be the consensus top corner after the Combine. Williams offers physicality and Collins has length. Rollins and Peters have the fluidity and developmental upside to merit first-round consideration.