It doesn't get much better than this where NFL rookie quarterbacks are concered as Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans travel to Florida to face Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota
Although Winston was nabbed as the top pick, he hasn't forgotten the Oregon Ducks and Mariota embarrassing the Seminoles and breaking his winning streak in his last game in college. What will we see in this intriguing matchup?
From the early glances that we've gotten at practices, Mariota has looked really good with the short screen passes and has made his share of mistakes while Winston started off very slow and has picked up the pace. Right now, everything is a question mark. We know Mariota likes to run and throw screen passes while Winston, who was the slowest quarterback in the NFL Draft Combine, likes to rifle the football with his ability to throw an accurate bomb.
I'm expecting miscuses and some success from both quarterbacks. Mariota has the better team with his Tennessee Titans, but he's playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Jameis' house and that can have an influence on the outcome of this game in which the Bucs are the 3-point betting favorite according to 5Dimes.
This is where I think Jameis Winston has the advantage. He has wideouts Mike Evans (1051 yards, 12 TD) ,a massive WR, at one end of the field and Vincent Jackson (72 receptions, 1002 yards ,2 TD's) on the other end. This will fit in perfectly with the running of Doug Martin who is a proven commodity in the NFL.
Martin must return to his form of 2013, in which he ran for 1454 yards and 11 TD's. The last 2 seasons have been a disappointment as he's either been injured or has underperformed. You know that Winston can't run with the football and the running back position might be a concern for Tampa Bay.
Marcus Mariota doesn't have the quality at wide receiver, but Harry Douglas and Kendall Wright are both capable of making key plays. Rookie Dorial-Green Beckham will be a huge player in this offense and should get plenty of opportunities if he can prove that he's the real deal.
This type of offense actually benefits Mariota, who has a high quarterback IQ, and can either find the open receiver or take matters into his own hands and run with the football.
Bishop Sankey was a great runner in college, but 569 yards and 2 TD's won't be enough in this offense. Mariota must be a bigger part of his offensive scheme than Winston. If Mariota is ineffective, and I think that will not happen, Zach Mettenberger has already proven what he can do in this league. I expect a low scoring game as these two rookie quarterbacks get their feet wet.
NFL Pick: Tennessee/Tampa Bay Under 42 at 5Dimes