Quarterbacks are the lifeblood of NFL franchises, and if you don't have a good one who is able to win playoff games for your team, you're likely looking to draft one.
The 2015 NFL Draft will be no exception when it comes to teams looking for signal-callers, and the most debated of the group are likely the top two at the position in Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota. While it appears virtually certain that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select Winston with the No. 1 overall pick this year, where the former Ducks star lands is anybody's guess.
With that in mind, NFL Media analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks put their scouting hats back on and debated the merits of the recent Heisman Trophy winner being a top-10 pick in a recent edition of "NFL Mock Draft Live." Not unexpectedly, each had a slightly different take on where Mariota should go in the draft.
"If Jameis Winston is going to be there when you pick, I'd say take Jameis Winston. But he's going to be long gone with the first overall selection. Marcus Mariota is going to take a little bit of time, but what you have is somebody who has the skill set necessary to succeed at the next level. I know he played in this spread offense, but when you study him on tape, you'll see examples of him working from left to right, full-field reads. You'll see him make all the throws."
The transition from Oregon's spread offense into a more traditional one at the next level has been an oft-cited reason as to why he might be a few years away from truly taking over under center for some team. Even Jeremiah agrees that he's not a plug-and-play guy right away, and because he might not be ready to start from Day One, that hurts his value in the eyes of Brooks.
"When you pick a player in the top 10, the expectation is right away he is going to give you performance and production. I don't believe that Marcus Mariota is that guy. Marcus Mariota will need some time to develop into being a franchise quarterback. I love the athleticism. I love his ability to be a dual-threat playmaker, but he misses too many layups in the passing game. He does make full-field reads, but he doesn't do it consistently. He reminds me of when Alex Smith came into the league, (and) needed some time to transition to a pro-style offense. I believe that's what Marcus Mariota is going to need, and if that is the case, I believe you have to take him late in the first round. That is where I have him graded. I believe he needs two to three years before he is ready to play in a pro-style system."
Mariota's talent remains obvious, but teams like the New York Jets on down in the draft will certainly be running through the same debate over the quarterback as the time to pack up and head to Chicago draws closer.