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Posted 2 Jan 2015I imagine a lot of people today are praising Mariota over Winston after last night's game. I see it the complete opposite way. To get the stats out of the way, they are almost identical:
Mariota - 26/36 - 338 yards - 2 TD - 1 INT
Winston - 29/45 - 348 yards - 1 TD - 1 INT
First, Mariota. What people have to remember when watching him is that almost all of his throws are to wide-open receivers, behind the line of scrimmage, and/or on the first read. This is the simplification people talk about when referring to a QB coming from a spread system. In the NFL, even an NFL where spread concepts are becoming more common, a QB is going to be required to work through progressions and throw into tight windows that don't even exist when the ball leaves his hand. Mariota was rarely required to go through his progressions to find the open receiver. The few times he had to did not produce as much success. Such as this interception play, or the almost interception at the goal line that the FSU defender dropped.
Mariota may be able to learn to do these things, but there is no way of knowing if he can at this point. And that should be too much risk for him to be drafted in the first round.
Does he have elite speed and athleticism? Yes.
Does he have good arm strength and accuracy? Yes.
Does he seem poised and confident on the field? Yes.
These are all good traits, but they are more like prerequisites for a QB. It's akin to a pitching prospect needing to have a 90+ mph fastball at a minimum to begin working on all the others things required to be a great pitcher. Mariota has the fastball, can he develop all the other traits and nuances required of a successful NFL QB?
Winston, on the other hand, is working in an NFL system. He has certainly had some head-scratching games this season...and is probably very lucky to have been undefeated up until this point. However, given all that has happened off-field with him...I think its still pretty impressive how well he has played on the field. Most probably would have crumbled under the scrutiny.
Side note. None of us know enough of the truth to pass judgement on his off-field transgressions, it will be up to the teams to figure that out in interviews. I will say he seems like a great leader and competitor when on the field. If he truly is guilty of rape...well...he shouldn't be in the NFL. But, if he just did some immature things with the spotlight of the world on him...I'm fine with that as long as he learns from the mistakes.
Winston played a great game last night. His lone interception was tipped at the line but still hit the receiver in the hands...who then proceeded to alley oop the ball right to the defender. His self-sack fumble is comical...but it came on a 4th down play where he was trying to make a play and lost his footing after displaying great pocket presence to evade several defenders. You'd be a pretty shitty scout to judge anything based on one play where he fell down.
Winston's Butt Fumble
FSU also suffered 2 crucial fumbles by freshman RB Dalvin Cook (who looks like a great player by the way). Take away those fumbles and Winston is probably throwing for over 400 yards and maybe some more TDs. The main thing Winston showed he can do last night that Mariota hasn't, is throw to receivers who are covered.
Did he throw over and around defenders into tight windows? Yes.
Did he lead his receivers open with throws that show anticipation? Yes.
Did he go through his progressions and show the pocket awareness to make plays? Yes.
I hope Mariota succeeds. He seems like a great guy and would be very exciting to watch in the NFL, but if I'm a GM there is no way I'm staking my job on him.
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