Decisions, decisions: #1s versus #2s over the years

“Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool”

-Mary MacGregor

By virtue of finishing dead last in the league in 2014, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the rights to the top pick in the upcoming NFL draft. What to do, what to do?  Do they go with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota?  Do they build their future around FSU’s Jameis Winston?  Do they trade the pick and weigh their options?  Top sports betting sites expect the Bucs to go with the in-state star for now, but the only thing that’s for certain is that they cannot go another year without a quarterback.  Not in this league, not if they want to have any sort of success.  The fact that Vinny Testaverde is still the leading passer in franchise history is enough to turn my stomach.

winston v mariotaWith the impending Mariota-Winston dilemma staring my beloved Bucs squarely in the face, I decided to look at the last twenty years of draft questions between numbers one and two in both the NFL and NBA to see who got their 1-2 picks right and who got them drastically wrong.

The first draft that comes to mind that compares to this one is the 1998 NFL Draft, not because of the talent involved but because of the indecision.  Anyone with half a brain realized at the time that Peyton Manning was the no-brainer choice over Ryan Leaf BUT there were still a ton of people out there who believed Leaf was a worthy adversary.  Silly rabbit.  We all know how that turned out.  Peyton will go down as one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks ever and Leaf’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

In 1999, Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb were chosen one and two.  At the time, Couch, a Kentucky Wildcat, was putting up Tecmo Bowl-like numbers in the SEC.  McNabb was making a name for himself at Syracuse but eight out of ten GMs polled probably would have gone with Couch.  We know how that turned out.  Couch was a bust and McNabb, while having a dysfunctional career in Philadelphia, was clearly the better NFL QB.

Things are a little more tricky in the NBA because until fairly recently, GMs were choosing high school players versus college players where that isn’t the case in the NFL

Kwame draftIn 2001, Washington chose high school prospect Kwame Brown with their top pick leading the Clippers to select Tyson Chandler second.  I don’t recall there being much debate about that pick but in retrospect it’s clear which team got the better end of that deal.  Chandler is still a force in the league while Kwame was the first stain of many on Michael Jordan’s resume as a GM.  He averaged 6.6 points per game over a journeyman career that spanned seven different ball clubs.

In 2003, the most historic draft in recent history, LeBron went one #nobrainer then Joe Dumars sealed his fate by taking Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  As a result of the curse of the Darko, the Pistons haven’t been relevant since.  Can you imagine if Melo had developed within the context of that championship Pistons team?  You can’t convince me his career and the recent history of the Pistons wouldn’t have turned out considerably different.

In 2004, I think we see the biggest comparison to the Mariota-Winston debate.  Emeka Okafor had just won a national championship at UConn.  Even though most scouts could see he would become a unidimensional player at the next level, Dwight Howard was an unheard of high school product.  Orlando opted for Howard which was clearly the right thing to do even though he no longer plays there but back on draft day that year, there were huge question marks, just like there are currently with Mariota and Winston.

USC Reggie BushThere was also great debate in the NFL draft of 2006.  Reggie Bush was coming off one of the greatest seasons a college football player had ever had yet the Houston Texas opted for Mario Williams, concerned that Bush’s success wouldn’t translate to the next level.  I’ll let you determine for yourself whether Houston made the right pick.  Williams is still in the league and making plays although it’s probably safe to argue not at the level of a number one draft pick.  Bush is still effective as a utility back and does have himself a Super Bowl ring from his New Orleans days.

In 2006, the Raptors chose Italian Stallion Andrea Bargnani over Texas’ LaMarcus Aldridge but hey, they’re Toronto, ey?  No one expects championship level decision-making to come out of that organization.  This is a team that once had Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Antonio Davis, Doug Christie, Dell Curry and Mugsy Bogues and got nothing out of it.

You can’t teach height.  You also can’t teach health. In 2007, the Portland Trailblazers opted for the seven-footer Greg Oden over Kevin Durant.  An argument could have been made for both players.  I don’t want to say Oden was a gamble but health issues were a concern.  He was also seven-feet tall.  Anyone who watched Durant play in college knew he was a once-in-a-lifetime player.  It’s safe to say the former Seattle Supersonics got the better end of this deal.  Can you imagine Durant on this Portland team?  #frightening

JamarcusIn 2007, Oakland, a team that hasn’t made a solid draft pick in years, chose JaMarcus Russell.  They ended up paying him $13 million in 2009 for essentially being a bust.  Calvin Johnson went number two to Detroit.  ‘Nuff said.

Back in the NBA, In 2008, you couldn’t have gone wrong with Derrick Rose at number one, Russell Westbrook at four or Kevin Love at five… unless Rose tears another ACL, which hopefully he won’t.

And In 2012, Andrew Luck was a no-brainer pick over Robert Griffin III but some (very few) people still liked RGIII over the Stanford product.  Either way, these two went in the proper order with Luck the best young QB in the league and RGIII fighting once again for his starting spot.

I’m a Buccaneers fan and I’m glad this Mariota-Winston decision is not left up to me for I have no earthly idea, nor crystal ball, that tells me which will be a better fit in the Tampa Bay offense specifically and the league in general.

I’m just hoping the organization makes the right call.

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33 Replies to “Decisions, decisions: #1s versus #2s over the years”

  1. If the Bucs draft Winston they deserve to be losers forever. Are they really going to alienate half of their fan base by drafting him? I have news for the NFL teams in Florida. They play 2nd fiddle to college football in this state and always will. The Phins have a following, but the Bucs are comprised of Gator/Nole fans who are fans of those schools first and foremost. Many a Gator will be jumping off of the Buc bandwagon (is there even one?) if they draft Winston. It isn’t that a Gator fan or Nole fan can’t have a former rival on their team, but Winston is toxic. Gator fans loathe him like no other. Just my 2 cents.

  2. All that being said, the Bucs still might go Winston, D.

    I don’t care if they draft Winston as long as he turns out to be the right pick and like you, I’m not convinced of that. Nor am I convinced that Mariota is the better pick. Like I said in the piece, I just don’t know.

    I did hear an interesting yet perhaps unfounded rumor from a friend. He said that Kelly and the Eagles are so desperate to land Mariota that they might package Fowles for a deal to land the top pick. How do you feel about that?

  3. Two thoughts merge here Chumpy

    Winston might actually be the more talented athlete but he’s far from what the pro’s like for a QB. Mariota has more of the classic drop back QB style but he too has shown rough edges and a certain lack of poise as demonstrated in the loss to the Buckeyes.

    Overall, if I had to guess, I’m not sure that either of these guys will enjoy NFL success, so perhaps packaging the draft choice for a more proven commodity might be your best gambit.

  4. I would gamble on Winston because he is more of a pocket passer that can make reads. Yes he has show immaturity so that is the risk but with age he should mature. I picked the Buckeyes over the ducks because marital stats were he threw 90% of his passes to his first read. It will be interesting to see who Tampa picks first

  5. I like Nick Foles. He was my fantasy QB last year until he got hurt. Unfortunately he wasn’t nearly as good last year as the year prior either. I would take that in a second as a Buc fan. You send me a serviceable QB and draft picks for a total gamble? Yeah I am all in!

    It isn’t about whether Winston will be good or not. I am saying he is toxic like no other and gator fans who are also Buc fans won’t support the Bucs as much if he is QB.

    I feel for you Buc fans. Most of my family are Buc fans. However, my team makes the playoffs almost every single year (Colts) so I don’t know how you guys handle it.

  6. The really awesome thing about the 1999 draft? My Browns picked between Couch and Akili Smith — without really considering McNabb, who was the only one of the three to become a serviceable NFL quarterback. Prediction: Look for Cleveland to jump in the middle of the the Mariota-Winston thing this year. It ain’t an NFL draft until the Browns ruin the career of a young QB.

  7. Mr. C…

    I’m just concerned about the baggage Winston brings. Plus he throws a lot of damn picks.

    I guess anything is a gamble. Ain’t nothing sure but taxes and the rent, huh?

  8. D….

    Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks were both Seminoles and Bucs and I loved ’em both. I don’t have a problem with them drafting Winston if it turns out he can play.

    I just have a feeling that’s a big if.

  9. Look at the Crapper finally chiming in with a comment. To what do I owe the good pleasure, sir?

    Hysterical observations about the Browns. I hadn’t heard the name Akili Smith in years.

    Get this. I have a friend who’s always gambled on sports so never had any real NFL allegiances. He recently decided to become a Browns fan (He’s originally from Youngstown).

    I asked him why the hell anyone in their right mind anyone would CHOOSE to become a Browns fan.

    He drinks a lot.

  10. I don’t see Winston or Mariotta being an NFL star. Both will start in the league…. because (unless your name is Tebow) the NFL lets anyone start at QB.

    I see Winston as a cross between J-Rock and Byron Leftwich… No, that’s not a compliment. He has the cannon, but an unfinished attic upstairs.

    If Mariotta goes to a good team— with a decent OL, running game, and receivers— he’ll look better than he really is (see Andy Dalton, or Cassell when he was at NE}.

  11. To me this a no-brainer.

    One is a classic pocket passer with a rifle arm while the other will throw often into double-coverage trouble.

    One played with a mini-NFL team around him in college while the other pretty much carried his whole team.

    When they played each other, one clearly shone while the other had to be told by his coach to shut the f*** up.

    One is a leader on and off the field while the other is odds-on to be an off-the-field distraction.

    Memo to Bucs Brass: Look West, men, and take the Oregon kid.

  12. Chris

    If Jason Licht from previous draft busts of the Buccaneers , hasn’t learned a damn thing at all as a front office executive about the franchise then he doesn’t possess the acumen some believe him to have.

    I mean where the hell is Cadillac Williams and Josh Freeman right about now ? Over the past five years it’s all been pipe dreams with the Buccaneers , but even greater apathy among the fans and the idiots of the Pewter Report , who year in and year out , regale the locale with their analysis of the franchise . What else is there to know ?

    Tophatal …..

  13. If it’s one thing the Bucs don’t have, Han, it’s an offensive line.

    I’m concerned that even a QB like Fowles would look like shit behind those guys.

    Think about it. If you’re a quarterback trying to preserve your career, why other than Mike Evans would you want to play in Tampa Bay?

  14. Jim…

    At this point, I’m not entirely convinced that’s the direction they’re going.

    Do you have enough faith in the organization to make the right call?

  15. Either way, it’s the Bucs.
    They could fuck up a wet dream.
    I don’t expect this will be much different but for your sake, I hope it works out.

  16. I relate your Bucs to my Cards. Don’t let recent success by the Cards cloud your memory. Prior to Kurt Warner the Cards were the punch line to every NFL joke every created. Now it’s the Bucs turn (some would argue the Raiders). But the Cards still do suffer from the same primary disease as the Bucs…absolutey no offensive line. As such, the debate over Mariotta/Winston is mute. Neither are a Kurt Warner caliber QB so whoever the pick is can’t fix a lot of ills in his first one or two seasons.

    No matter what your front office decides, they’re gonna be wrong to the Bucs fanbase mid-way through the ’15 season. But If I were in their shoes I would try to minimize the damage by taking Mariotta and then address the left tackle position either through the draft, free agency or trade. Mariotta goes to the head of the class for his work ethic, thirst to learn and by his example of showing up first in the morning and last to leave when the lights turn off > > all known qualities. Couple that with the excellent obsevation by HeavyD about the hatred for Winston and his off-field issues by many in Florida and a QB choice at No. really isn’t that difficult. Should the Bucs go LT with the first pick I would applaud them for doing what really needs to be addressed, but that just ain’t gonna happen.

  17. BTW….had to do a quick check on your comment “Peyton will go down as one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks ever and Leaf’s whereabouts are currently unknown.”

    Leaf was released from a Montana state prison in December 2014 after doing about half of his 5 1/2 sentence for drugs charges. Now he stands to be extradited to Texas on a parole violation charge steming from a home burglary while he was QB coach at West Texas A&M. The best part is that it was one of his players’ home he ransacked. What a guy!!

  18. If the Bucs can’t come up with a conclusive decision they’re likely to trade down and get themselves a slew of picks by giving up that first pick. In reality the team has issues all over the place which have not been addressed at all over the past five seasons .

    By looking at the figures what does that really tell you a about the Bucs and their season overall ?

    Lovie Smith didn’t instill discipline at all and his pragmatism bordered on being idiotic and at at times insulting to the fans, with his postgame interviews to the press and indirectly to the fans. Yet you have Tampa fans believing he’s deserving of a pass ? That’s the type of mentality indicating there’s no common sense to be found with the fan-base. ol

    Tophatal …….

  19. Matt Millen says he tried to warn Al Davis against the drafting of JaMarcus Russell ? The same Millen who as the Detroit Lions’ GM assembled the Lions 0-16 team from 2008 . That’s sort of intellect now to be found within the NFL fraternity and their cabal of blowhards and dic#eads .

    Ex Bucs’ assistant Rod Marinelli did himself proud with the level ineptitude shown as a head coach, by going 0-16.

  20. Mark…

    I get that your Cards have had a troubled history but let me ask you this. Even with that number one pick in hand, which team would you rather be a fan of going into the 2015 season?

    It’s been a long ass time since the Bucs have seen the post-season.

    From everything I’m hearing locally, Winston is the projected number one pick. If he keeps his nose clean, he may very well be wearing a Buccaneers uniform from draft day.

    And um, please don’t tell Ryan Leaf where I live.

  21. Chris

    How brittle is Derrick Rose’s body ? He’s out injured , again ? Torn meniscus muscle (knee tissue) and will have to undergo surgery ? The Bulls’ front office must rue the day they signed to that long-term deal .

    Tophatal ……

  22. Gator fans don’t have a problem with a Noles playing for their Buc team. It is this particular Nole they won’t ever get behind…no matter how good he may be. Just my two cents.

  23. I wasn’t kidding. You will be in the minority of Bucs/gators fans that overlook Winston IMO. Has nothing to do with FSU…gator/buc fans loved Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks. They better not take Winston. I will eat crow gladly if you have nothing but sellouts.

  24. I am not a Buc fan but he is pretty low rent as a human. I feel sorry his other child passed away last week, but he has some serious issues. Best RB in last 15 years, an absolute monster carrying the pill. I understand your argument. I just think Winston is a completely different beast. Both players are vile humans as far as I am concerned. I will stick with my most Gator fans are not going to support the Bucs position if they draft Winston. I hope they do draft him at this point though so we can see how it plays out.

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