Welcome, NFL fans, to the ninth annual SB Nation NFL Writers Mock Draft. In preparation for the 2015 NFL Draft, our 32 pro football team sites are working behind the scenes to create a weeks-long mock draft in which league writers will make a pick on behalf of the team they cover, explain it to y'all, and then stand by as you mercilessly tear their decision to shreds. Starting today, we will be releasing three mock draft picks per (week)day, continuing the process straight through the middle of April and covering two full rounds of picks.
It all starts right now, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and our good friends over at Bucs Nation on the clock. Who did they choose for the Bucs, and why? Lead blogger Sander Philipse is here to announce and explain everything.
1. Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Philipse: Right now, all the signs point to Winston as the Bucs’ pick. Coming from a pro-style system, Winston has shown all the necessary on-field traits to successfully transition to the NFL, and his ability to throw with anticipation is rare in college quarterbacks. That doesn’t mean he’s a perfect quarterback, and the off-field question marks pose a risk of immaturity. Being accused of rape is also not an ideal trait in a franchise quarterback. Ultimately, though, most reports suggest that Winston was convincing enough in in-person meetings with teams to allay any doubts about his character.
There are some on-field question marks too, mostly relating to inconsistent accuracy, sloppy mechanics and a tendency to be too aggressive with his throws, leading to perfectly avoidable interceptions. But those on-field problems are less of a concern than Marcus Mariota’s, who was never asked to do many of the things he’ll have to do in the NFL if he’s to succeed. That’s a lot of uncertainty, and in the end, Winston is simply the best on-field prospect at the quarterback position.
Dan Kadar, SBNation.com: This is the expected pick, because it’s a good one. On the field, there are few questions with Winston’s football intelligence. He reads defenses well, and unlike most college quarterbacks, he goes through his progressions properly. He’ll really benefit from going to a team like the Buccaneers, where they have a good and established wide receiving corps. Winston excelled in 2013 with Kelvin Benjamin at FSU, and eventually won a Heisman Trophy. Mike Evans of the Bucs is a better version of Benjamin. They could be an incredible duo for years to come.
Top 5 players remaining
- 1. Leonard Williams, DT, USC
- 3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
- 4. Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
- 5. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
- 6. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
- 1-1: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
- 2-34: (coming April 7)