A few months back, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota was originally projected as being the easy selection for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft on April 30. That consensus has since shifted to have Florida State’s Jameis Winston being the No. 1 pick among many, many mock drafts.
However, that all means nothing because what matters is what the lead voices among NFL teams choose to do.
Now there have been many reports that suggest the Bucs have all but made their decision on selecting Winston — reports which TheBayCave.com and BucsBlitz.com reported through their own channels. None of that says that Mariota isn’t mentioned at all throughout the Tampa Bay front office.
In fact, NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah said after the combine, via JoeBucsFan.com, that there is support for Mariota at One Buc Place.
“He has some people that are Team Mariota. Put it that way. So I think there’s definitely some Jameis Winston support at the high levels. But I think there’s some love there for Marcus Mariota. So I don’t think that’s as done as everybody thinks it is.”
As I have pointed out, there is never a total consensus among any draft selection. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. But after doing some digging, TBC has found out some pieces of information.
For starters, Jeremiah’s statement is correct. TBC has learned of the support for Mariota with direct knowledge of one who is probably in the ear of general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith at this very moment. But as it was described, the “ones that matter” like Winston.
That leads to this: Those normally who take part in running background checks on players are not running it for Jameis Winston as TheBayCave.com has been told. Tampa Bay has taken greater measure to ensure Winston’s background is clear enough to make him the face of the franchise. Both Licht and Smith are in full control of the process and from what we’ve gathered are the only ones that will have knowledge of the results.
It’s safe to assume that if any red flags show up on Winston both Smith and Licht would be wise to go another direction. Given the amount of intel TBC has been putting together for a few months now, the chances of them going another direction may be slim.
Going back to the support for Mariota, Oregon’s star quarterback isn’t the only one that is being mentioned inside the organization. Much like this report from November, UCLA’s Brett Hundley is also being mentioned within the organization and ranked ahead of Mariota by some. TheBayCave.com was reminded of that Friday morning.
So while Mariota is getting support within the Bucs, others are as well. What matters most is where the top chain of command stands. All indications point to that being Winston.