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Marcus Mariota taking a visit to Tampa Bay on Monday

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Jameis Winston visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' facility two weeks ago. Marcus Mariota is making the same visit Monday, according to NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport.


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The Bucs hyped the visit on their website, coyly noting that "Mariota is one of several top college players the Buccaneers are considering drafting with the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft." It also was noted that Winston is "rumored to be among the team's top choices." The Bucs also provided some links to Mariota-centric content, including one entitled "Mariota can play immediately."

Obviously, Winston also can play immediately, and given his background in a pro-style attack at Florida State, he seems far more NFL-ready right now that Mariota, who played in a version of the spread at Oregon. The flipside: Unlike Winston, Mariota has no off-field issues and certainly would be an easier sell from a PR standpoint.

Mariota will make the rounds with the Buccaneers, with Rapoport reporting that, "He'll meet with all key decision makers." NFL Media reporter Albert Breer added Mariota will be meeting with Buccaneers ownership, general manager Jason Licht, head coach Lovie Smith, director of player personnel Jon Robinson, director of college scouting Mike Biehl and the offensive staff. No doubt all those "key decision makers" will come away impressed with Mariota, as nary a discouraging word ever has been said about Mariota as a person.


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But it's likely that the on-field decision makers will be more inclined to go with Winston. The Bucs are coming off a 2-14 season, and it likely would be much more palatable for the football folks to go with Winston, whose NFL learning curve is going to be much shorter than Mariota's.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Monday afternoon that former Bucs coach Tony Dungy dropped by team facilities during Mariota's visit. His son, Eric, was a wide receiver for three seasons at Oregon and played with Mariota.

Breer reported Winston and Mariota both have in-house visits set up with the Tennessee Titans, owners of the No. 2 pick in the draft.

All the NFL media analysts who have done mock drafts have the Bucs taking Winston with the first pick.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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