With three months to go before the 2015 NFL Draft, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston now appears to be the consensus top prospect and most feel he will be taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 1 pick.
This is a fairly significant shake-up to the draft. Just one month ago, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was considered a lock to be the top pick.
NFL Draft expert Todd McShay of ESPN had Mariota going to the Bucs with the top pick in his mock draft in December.
After being suspended for one game for shouting an obscenity on campus, Winston fell all the way to No. 25 on Mel Kiper Jr.’s “Big Board” last fall.
But then scouts started to sour on Mariota. He had a disappointing performance in the college football championship game, and Winston began to put some distance between himself and his off-field issues.
Now, almost everywhere you look, experts are predicting Winston will be the top pick:
- Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com: “Winston is the most advanced on-field quarterback in the draft … Questions about Winston’s maturity and off-field decision-making are more than fair and could have him written off some draft boards if he can’t convince teams he can be a franchise leader … but if Winston realises his potential, he’s a possible superstar.”
- Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com: “Winston has some immaturity issues, but he has ideal size, arm strength and touch. He’s ready to play Day 1.”
- Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com: “This, of course, comes with a giant asterisk. That asterisk being that the Buccaneers — who I assure you have already begun their work on this — believe Winston checks out off the field.”
- Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com: “On the field, Winston is a better prospect than Marcus Mariota, and over time, that could push teams to overlook the character discrepancy.”
Meanwhile, those same experts are split on how far Mariota has fallen. Two (Kiper Jr., Campbell) have Mariota going to the Tennessee Titans with the second pick while the other two feel Mariota will fall to the New York Jets at No. 6.
This is good news for teams that want a shot at Mariota, such as the Philadelphia Eagles and Mariota’s former head coach, Chip Kelly. There are already reports that Kelly is “going to try” to move up to pick Mariota and it is much easier to move from No. 20 to Nos. 4 or 5 than it is to going from No. 20 to No. 1.
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