After meeting with both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith isn't shy about saying which stud quarterback the franchise is leaning toward picking with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Although he wouldn't go ahead and flat out let it be known who the Buccaneers will be selecting, Smith did show preference to the ex-Florida State star Winston over Mariota.
"No, I wouldn't say it's an erroneous assumption," Smith told CBS Sports, responding to a question about the Buccs leaning toward Winston over Mariota. "I would say when people make that assumption, we haven't had the pro workout [for Winston] yet. But we've done a lot of research, have watched a lot of video and had both of them in and talked with them individually and had them on the board. But the process, the game isn't over yet. I think you can have a leader, but you have to let the game play out and we're doing that. We're excited about this final stage almost to decide exactly which direction to go."
Earlier this month, Winston had an all-day meeting with the Buccaneers and spoke with excitement about the possibility of continuing to play football in south Florida after starring at Florida State University.
"Being able to play three years in Florida, I would love to stay here in this great state," Winston told the Bucs' website after that meeting. "I've just got to take advantage of this blessing. It's not really important to me to be the first pick, but it is important to me to be picked. I believe that I have been blessed during my years at Florida State to win a national championship and just be a winning quarterback. And I believe this place — I would love to be here."
Mariota met with the team soon thereafter. Whether the Buccs go with Winston, Mariota or surprise everybody by tapping another player in the NFL Draft, it's obvious that the team needs major help. Tampa Bay finished 2-14, tied with the Tennessee Titans for the worst record in the NFL last season. This year's draft will be held in Chicago April 30 through May 2.
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(Photos from left: Leon Halip/Getty Images, Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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