When it comes to the NFL Draft, everyone wants to talk quarterbacks. When it comes to the New York Jets draft discussion, quarterback seems to be the most mentioned position in these conversations. The scouting combine serves as a major pathway in separating the top quarterbacks vying for NFL stardom. The two most talked about quarterbacks in this draft are Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota (no surprise there). Which QB really shined this weekend at the combine and who is the Jets’ best option, presuming both players are available, at the 6th overall pick?
Winston and Mariota impressed critics in their own ways this past weekend at the combine. For Winston, he wanted to show that he is capable to take the reins of any franchise and prove not to be a distraction. For Mariota, the goal was to show that he is the most athletic player at his position and can take his game to the next level.
Each quarterback decided to go against the grain and throw at the combine. In the past, most quarterbacks projected to go early in the draft would wait to be in the safety zone of their own school and throw to their own recievers. Mariota and Winston made a bold move by deciding to throw, and it proved to be a smart one.
These top prospects displayed their capabilities of connecting on almost every throw , no matter the receiver. Mariota and Winston each exhibited accuracy and good technique during the throwing drills. In each respective route run, the two quarterbacks were on point. Winston showed off the cannon of an arm he has, along with great velocity on the ball. Despite a few overthrown deep balls, Winston did everything he needed to in order to keep his stock up. Mariota showed his ability place the ball wherever it needed to be. He may not have put the type of zip on the ball that Winston did, but Mariota was extremely accurate with each throw and fluid in his drop-backs. Neither prospect showed difficulty in hitting receivers throughout the workout, and both solidified their high draft stocks.
You’re probably wondering now who’s the better possible fit with the Jets if either is available with the 6th overall pick. Athletically, Mariota crushed Winston in every other drill. These drills would include the broad jump, vertical, and 40-yard dash. Mariota posted a vertical of 36 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, compared to Winston’s 28.5 inches on the vertical and 8 feet, 7 inches in the broad jump. The 40 was not even remotely close.
The 40-yard dash specifically stood out on Saturday. Mariota ran the fastest time of any QB in the draft, overall, since speed demon Robert Griffin III before the 2012 draft. He ran an unofficial 4.52. On the other hand, Winston ran an unimpressive 4.97. Ordinarily, the 40-yard dash isn’t a make or break drill for NFL scouts, but it is for a possible Jets quarterback. Jets quarterbacks aren’t always given ample amounts of time in the pocket and often find themselves running to salvage a play. Winston seemed very clumsy coming off the line and awkward. He also didn’t show much burst. Mariota flew off the line, and, if it was a race, he would have smoked Winston.
The athleticism Mariota flashed in each drill is something the Jets should take into consideration. This team needs a quarterback who can extend plays, but who will also not turn the ball over. Gang Green has been plagued by inconsistency, turnovers, and just flat-out ugly plays from the quarterback position for a relatively long time. Mariota secured himself as the best quarterback option for the Jets this weekend. He was convincing in the passing drills, and surged away from the pack in the remaining drills.
Winston may seem to have the stronger arm at times, but the Jets need a quarterback, like Mariota, who knows when not to make throws, how to extend plays with a burst of speed, and does not lack for consistency. Winston often struggled reading defenses, and this flaw caused for a scary number of interceptions in his sophomore campaign. The Florida State product will also have a tough time extending plays as a 4.97 40-yard dash time will not cut it against superior defensive athletes. Coming out of this past weekend’s combine, Mariota continues to be the best option for Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan to build a future around.