As the debate rages on about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafting either Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston or Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, the most important thing about it all is that neither has officially declared for the draft. However, reality may be that the Bucs could have one less quarterback to choose from.
Early Monday morning, I have learned that head coach Lovie Smith came away extremely impressed with Winston's performance at the Rose Bowl. His "NFL-ready" throws were on display Thursday evening and Smith got a firsthand account of how well Winston handled what was thrown at him. Unfortunately there is uncertainty surrounding the 20-year old Florida State product (21 years old on January 6) as those within FSU have told those close to the Buccaneers he may not declare. There is a meeting with the Florida State baseball team sometime this week and the general feel is he will tell them he is going to play baseball and not declare.
This validates my report earlier this past weekend how several boosters felt that Winston will stay in college. Some have even said that Winston, aside from playing baseball, wants a shot at another National Title and another Heisman Trophy.
But before people begin thinking that Mariota is a lock for the Bucs at first overall (if he declares), think again. His on-field play is a concern for many. This past November I wrote on TheBayCave.com that some close to the Bucs like UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. In fact, some scouts had him, Winston, and Mariota listed in that order for talent level. Hundley's mindset and control in the pocket has been a concern as well but is considered a good "project" quarterback.
So what does this all mean? Well there is still a chance Winston declares. Albeit a decreasing chance, some hope those close to Winston talk him into declaring. But if not, and with the team having potentially more concerns with Mariota's play, the possibility of a trade down becomes an even bigger factor. At the same time, this situation will increase the draft stock and value of Hundley and the Bucs chances of drafting him become greater if all holds true.
While Winston has until January 15 to officially declare for the NFL Draft, we may know sooner with all signs pointing to this week. If he stays in school, the decision the Bucs face on what they will do with the first overall pick and at quarterback becomes tougher. If they truly target the position.
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