The two Heisman Trophy winners were considered to be franchise-changing quarterbacks who could be among some of the best at the position in the future. Five years later, both players are not on the team that drafted them and have had to settle for backup roles with their new organizations.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Winston with the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. Statistically, he’s performed better than Mariota but has not appeared in a playoff game.
In five seasons, Winston has recorded 19,737 passing yards and 121 touchdown passes. He threw for an NFL-leading 5,109 passing yards and 33 touchdowns in 2019. However, he was released after failing to make the playoffs. He only led Tampa Bay to a winning record once in his career and signed with the New Orleans Saints in the offseason to back up Drew Brees.
Mariota was often injured during his five seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He recorded 13,207 passing yards and 76 touchdown passes during his tenure with the Titans. He made the playoffs in 2017 and as an eventual backup in 2019, leading the team to at least one win during that span.
Mariota was replaced by Ryan Tannehill in the middle of the 2019 season and watched Tannehill and Derrick Henry lead the team to the AFC title game. Mariota was released soon after and signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, where he will be backing up Derek Carr once he returns from injury.
Both Tampa Bay and Tennessee have veterans as their quarterbacks after deciding to start with someone young and inexperienced. Those experiments clearly failed. The Titans gave Tannehill a contract extension in the offseason and the Buccaneers opted to sign Tom Brady.
Winston was the only quarterback from that draft class to make a Pro Bowl. Sean Mannion, Garrett Grayson, Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley, and Trevor Siemian have not had the same success as either Winston or Mariota.