In a quarterback-dominated league, it’s perhaps no surprise that the top two picks of the 2015 NFL draft were quarterbacks.
As widely predicted, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went for the Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, with the No1 overall pick. The No2 pick wasn’t as locked in, with speculation a few teams were willing to trade up, but in the end the Tennessee Titans decided that Marcus Mariota’s dual-threat abilities were too tempting to pass up.
Winston’s pocket presence marked him out as the logical choice for Tampa Bay, who have lacked a reliable quarterback for years and have not won a playoff game since 2002. While there is no doubt about Winston’s on-field skills there is concern about his life away from the game. During his college career he shoplifted crab legs, was banned for shouting obscenities and was accused of sexual assault, although he was not arrested or charged over the allegation.
Winston’s college coach, Jimbo Fisher, played down those fears. “There are always bumps in the road,” Fisher said. “But as far as on the field, he’ll learn. He has an unbelievable ability to learn and learn fast.
“Off the field he’s an extremely great guy. People will be shocked with how he represents [Tampa Bay].”
While Mariota has caused his team no problems with his personal life, some have questioned his ability to step up to the NFL after thriving in Oregon’s fast-tempo offense. However, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt was pleased to get his man.
“He’s a talented young man who has a very good feel for the position and how to process those things,” Whisenhunt said, “and we’re excited to get a chance to work with him.”
Both Winston and Mariota watched the draft from home meaning that the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, didn’t greet a player on stage in Chicago until the Jacksonville Jaguars picked Dante Fowler Jr at No3.
Many had predicted that defensive end Leonard Williams could go as high as No2 but it was the New York Jets, at No6, that picked him, adding yet more strength to the team’s strong defensive line.
There was an emotional moment when nose tackle Danny Shelton went to the Cleveland Browns – it was the fourth anniversary of his brother’s death in a shooting. “I’ve got my brother with me here tonight,” said Shelton.
This article was written by Tom Lutz, for theguardian.com on Friday 1st May 2015 02.44 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010