The Quiet Leader: Continuing the Rookie QB Discussion
It's unfortunate that due to a simple class similarity, Marcus Mariota is so directly compared to Jameis Winston making his character appear 'better' as opposed to just plain good. The 21-year old former Heisman winner and track star brings more to the title franchise quarterback than just his basic football skills. Mariota takes a personal interest in defense against drunk driving as well as early childhood education, which he also explores through volunteering with the Boys and Girls club. He may be quiet and humble, but he's handled first round status with nothing but respect and class, a rare trait that will translate well into the pros.
The easiest comparison to make is to Russell Wilson, who after earning the starting job his rookie year was selected as an alternate for the pro bowl, continuing to lead the Seahawks the super bowl in the next consecutive years. His success revolves around a few key details to note. Wilson wasn't forced into the starting role, having the chance to compete with competent alternatives Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn but also the emotionally consistency he displayed allowed him to remain resilient as a rookie, and slowly gain respect for his composure and professionalism that has become a staple of his leadership.
While rumors circulate about Wilson lacking control of the locker room, I can guarentee that fans would rather here that the polite and well-kept QB is 'too nice' rather than hear that he has been suspended for drugs or domestic violence.
Winston's lawyer's statements should spark a new wave of discussions leading up to draft day about his character concerns and whether or not he should remain the top pick despite the claims. There is more to the job than just performing as both Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson showed us most recently last season and the risk of your first round pick getting in trouble or being taken out of action for non-football related activity is just not worth Winston's talents that are comparable to Mariota.
Now there does remain the chance that Mariota's production does not pan out right away creating a separate issue completely where a team should evaluate what they need and when. However taking a risk on performance as opposed to character seems like the more sensible option especially given Mariota's phenomenal touchdown to interception ratio. But it is now up to the Buccaneers, or any other team commited to taking a first round passer to weigh the cost and benefits.