Mayock explains why he ranks Mariota ahead of Winston

NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock made waves Wednesday when he released his updated positional rankings for the 2015 NFL Draft, listing Oregon's Marcus Mariota as his No. 1 quarterback ahead of Florida State's Jameis Winston.

The players are the consensus top two quarterbacks in the draft, but most have Winston ranked ahead of Mariota. Mayock had Winston rated No. 1, ahead of Mariota, before revealing his rankings on Wednesday. We've heard in recent weeks that the gap between the two might not be as wide as once thought, and Mayock went a step further by flipping the two on his board after taking in both of their pro days and watching even more tape on them.

"I've been fighting with this thing all along. There have been two issues for me with Winston. Number one is on the field. He threw 18 interceptions this year. On a team that arguably had the best talent in the country, he continued to put his team at a disadvantage almost weekly," Mayock said on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" Wednesday. " ... Off the field, regardless of what did or didn't happen in that alleged rape, he continued a pattern of poor decisions throughout his career. The bottom line for me is, can you trust him off the field?

"As far as Mariota is concerned, the more tape that I've watched, the more I've appreciated what he's been asked to do in their version of the spread offense. He reads combination routes, takes tremendous care of the football, and he wins games. He's not a natural thrower, but in the correct scheme, I think he can be productive. I've been fighting this for a long time, and I think that's what I've come down on."

Winston has long been the presumptive No. 1 overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Mayock said all signs continue to point to the Florida State star still being the Bucs' selection.

"There's nobody in their right mind who cares what I think. This is all about (Bucs general manager) Jason Licht and (head coach) Lovie Smith. I think there's every indication that (Winston) will go No. 1," Mayock said. "The bigger question is what happens with Tennessee at No. 2. Will they try to trade that pick and move down or will they pick (Mariota) or Leonard Williams? That's really where the suspense will start."

The real suspense might not start until the draft begins on April 30, but there will be plenty of intriguing twists and turns before we get to that point.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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