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Why Mike Mayock Feels Mariota Is Best QB In Draft

For the better part of the last three months, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock had Jameis Winston as his top-rated quarterback in the draft, just ahead of Marcus Mariota.

But last week, even before Winston's former attorney, David Cornwell, acknowledged that the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner wasn't ready "off the field'' to be an NFL player, Mayock had a change of heart and moved Mariota ahead of Winston.

Winston had a solid Pro Day workout two weeks ago. So that had little to do with Mayock bumping him down below Mariota. So what did?

"The two biggest negatives to me about Winston are the on-the-field interceptions and the off-the-field trust factor,'' Mayock told the Daily News this week.

Winston threw 25 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions last season. Averaged a pick every 25.9 attempts. The year before, he threw 40 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions. Averaged a pick every 38.4 throws.

Mayock also said he has become more convinced that Mariota, despite playing in a spread offense at Oregon, will be able to make the transition to an NFL offense. And no, he's not talking about Chip Kelly's.

"From my perspective, it's just my gut feeling that he can be developed as an NFL style quarterback with the added attraction of being athletic enough to help you win with his legs,'' Mayock said. "You trust who he is as the leader and CEO of your franchise.

Winston's off-the-field problems at Florida State have given NFL teams pause as far as his ability to be a "face of the franchise'' quarterback.

Winston played heroically in the second half of games last season, leading Florida State back from deficits several times. But Winston's interceptions often contributed to those deficits.

"Interceptions can be interpreted a lot of different ways,'' Mayock said. "I did an interception reel and put them together and looked at all 18 of his picks. I tried to give the kid the benefit of the doubt.

"But he threw way too many when they were unnecessary, and put his team at a disadvantage because of that. When you combine that with the fact that he had the best talent in the country around him, he didn't have to force those throws, didn't have to make those throws.

"I give him a ton of credit. He was at his best when his best was needed in the second half of those games. But to me, it was unnecessary. And you're not going to get those types of (second-chance) opportunities in the NFL.''

Mayock isn't suggesting Winston doesn't have the right stuff to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. What he's saying is that, right here, right now, if he had the first pick in the April 30 draft, he'd use that pick on Mariota rather than Winston.