“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock!” These are the words we will be hearing nearly in a month at the 2015 NFL Draft held in Chicago, IL. There has been wide speculation regarding who the Buccaneers will take with the first overall pick. Multiple mock drafts completed by ESPN and NFL analysts have been released constantly making most Oregon fans shake their head. Most of the mock drafts have the Bucs’ selecting QB Jameis Winston from Florida State, instead of taking the Oregon product. However, yesterday something interesting happened.
According to Scott Smith, senior writer and editor for Buccaneers.com, five Buccaneer officials traveled up to Eugene, OR on Tuesday morning by virtue of examining QB Marcus Mariota’s skillset with some of their own plays. Among the officials included General Manager Jason Licht, Head Coach Lovie Smith, and Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter. Before the private session occurred, Mariota had a sit-down meeting with the Buccaneer officials to discuss their scouting reports. The whole workout was designed to be up-tempo, which was not unusual for Mariota during his tenure with Oregon.
Mariota took snaps under center and from the shotgun position from fellow NFL draft prospect C Hroniss Grasu, the team site said. Along with Grasu, WR Keanon Lowe was present as designated catcher for all of Mariota’s passes, which were a combination of slants, outs, and deep balls. Some of these plays had Koetter rush up to Mariota with practice pads and test his patience regarding the pressure he would get from a variety of defenses in the NFL.
Also, in the report, it was stated that the main reasons why Buccaneer officials made the long trip to workout Mariota, was to challenge his arm strength and footwork. As most league scouts, they were skeptical about Mariota’s ability to adapt to the traditional NFL offense.
At the end of the day, the Bucs’ were pleased with Mariota’s performance and were essentially impressed by his arm strength. The Bucs’ party was quick on their way out, not talking to many media representatives that were present. It was also reported from Smith that the Buccaneer officials are now in Tallahassee, FL to meet up with Winston and go through the same workout that Mariota had yesterday morning. All in all, one big take away from this event, was the fact that the team in still interested in the 2015 Heisman winner’s services and could be possibly open to the idea of selecting him over Winston.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline