Published May 03, 2016
You don't pass up a potential franchise quarterback.
Not in today's pass-happy NFL.
So Jameis Winston is headed to Tampa Bay as the first overall selection and Marcus Mariota goes to Tennessee at No. 2. They'll take their Heisman Trophies (Winston in 2013, Mariota last year) and try to turn two downtrodden franchises into contenders, maybe even champions.
It was the sixth time since 1967 that quarterbacks went 1-2, and this was no surprise. The biggest question was whether Florida State's Winston had too much off-field baggage for the Bucs. Obviously not.
His college coach, Jimbo Fisher, has no doubts either.
"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 (the Bucs)."
Some questioned Mariota having barely taken any snaps behind center in Oregon's quick-tempo attack, but Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt, who has done big things with such veteran quarterbacks as Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner and Philip Rivers, clearly isn't concerned.
"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."
Winston and Mariota each had a year of eligibility remaining. So did the next two picks, when linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. of Florida headed upstate a bit to Jacksonville, then Oakland grabbed Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.
The first senior taken was Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff by Washington in the fifth spot, a bit of a surprise.
Tampa has the receivers to help Winston in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, both of whom went over 1,000 yards last year despite shoddy quarterbacking. Tennessee can't make the same claim.
Each of those teams went 2-14 in 2014, but coaches Lovie Smith and Whisenhunt, in their first seasons in charge, survived the awful record. Now, they presumably have the main building tool.
After Scherff, the Jets, normally heavily cheered when the draft was held in New York -- it's in Chicago for the first time since 1965 -- were loudly booed when they went on the clock. And when they went for Southern Cal DT Leonard Williams, rated by some as the best overall player in this crop, the jeers increased exponentially.
Why? Because the Bears were next up and need a dynamic player at the position.
Still, the local team was cheered as if Jay Cutler had just thrown for a TD when it grabbed West Virginia's game-breaking receiver, Kevin White. After trading top wideout Brandon Marshall to the Jets, the Bears had a big void there.
Dan Quinn, the Falcons' new coach after he helped build Seattle's dynamic defense, got a nice tool in Clemson linebacker Vic Beasley. The Giants selected Miami offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and St. Louis finished off the top 10, in which there were no trades, by taking Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who comes off a major knee injury.
The pick drew some reactions of disbelief from the crowd; no RBs went in the first round of the past two drafts.