Sideline Report: The NFL Draft – Tampa Bay is on the clock

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Every year, the NFL Draft showcases the newest talent coming to the NFL. This year’s selection show will take place Thursday, April 30 – Saturday, May 2 in Chicago, Illinois. The best players in college football relentlessly have their skills picked apart and analyzed over for months, spanning from the college football season, through the NFL Combine and up into the Draft. It all culminates to this one weekend, where the players’ potential is judged by general managers and head coaches of the 32 NFL teams. This is where each team’s quest for a Super Bowl begins.

With the draft, fans and pundits love to speculate who will be drafted when, especially the first pick overall. Analysts such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay create mock drafts to highlight their prognostications. It’s all a big guessing game until commissioner Roger Goodell reads off the names in Chicago. But with that being said, the great debate for number one is an intriguing one. This year seems to have people divided between Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Both very talented players; each with their upsides and flaws and can help out Tampa Bay, who owns the number one pick.

Mariota played in a high-octane offense at Oregon where opponents would be no match for their quick tempo and were beaten by large margins. He was also able to showcase his talents of running and throwing the ball superbly. His speed and overall athleticism even helped him capture the Heisman Trophy, college football’s highest honor. But he was also labeled a “system quarterback,” meaning that he wouldn’t be able to adjust and perform in another team’s offensive scheme. He also wasn’t challenged as much in Oregon’s conference, the Pac-12, and Mariota might not be able to adjust to the NFL game. This shouldn’t be a concern as Mariota’s skills are off the chart and he is an excellent leader, on and off the field. But is he worth the number one pick?

Then there’s Mr. Winston. He has had a very intriguing college football career. He is a boisterous immature, yet highly gifted football player who has been at the highest of highs (2013 national championship) and the lowest of lows (stealing crab legs, accused of sexual assault). His off-the-field antics could prove to be a problem into his NFL career, especially with the potential of a large paycheck. But he shows promise on the field. He is a definite playmaker who can get out of trouble with his athleticism and ability to tuck it and run. He has a decent arm, and knows how to play the game. He has a lot of room for improvement, but his skills show promise. But is he worth the hassle and the number one pick?

Personally, I think Mariota is who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should take with the number one pick. He shows the most promise and should be able to turn this franchise around. He can step into this franchise immediately and make an impact in this struggling offense. There’s a reason the Buccaneers have the number one pick, but players such as running back Doug Martin and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy show some signs of hope for Buccaneers looking towards the future. Mariota should be the first step towards rebuilding.

The rest of the first round should be a toss-up, with extremely talented players such as USC linebacker Leonard Williams, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes. All of this uncertainty just makes for a much more exciting draft with the majority of the first round being up in the air. The future of the NFL will be determined starting Thursday night and I can’t wait to see whose name I’ll be seeing each Sunday next year.

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