As of now, it appears that the Tampa Bay Bucs are leaning towards taking quarterback Jameis Winston of Florida State over Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, with the first pick of the NFL Draft.
Pat Yasinskas, who covers the Bucs for ESPN.com, has heard that head coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota.
This is significant because when Smith was hired by the Bucs prior to the 2014 season, his contract included a clause that gives him final say over personnel decisions concerning the team’s roster.
To add further evidence, Yasinskas also notes that the Bucs recently hired their new offensive, Dirk Koetter, over former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman in part because Koetter preferred Winston while Trestman preferred Mariota.
This report comes on the heels of many NFL Draft experts now projecting Winston to be the top pick after it during most of the season it seemed Mariota was destined to be selected first overall.
ESPN’s NFL Draft expert Todd McShay went as far as to say Winston is the second-best quarterback prospect of the last ten years.
Of course, this could all change after the NFL Combine and after teams get a chance to interview Winston. The Bucs could also get blown away by an offer from another team to move in the draft.
But if the NFL Draft were held today, it sure sounds like Winston would be the pick.
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