Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota Prove Worthy of Top Picks in 2015

By Chris Malumphy

Quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were the first two picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. Neither player disappointed. Questions still remain as to which of the two will have the better professional career but both players appear to be long-term franchise quarterbacks.

In some regards, Mariota outplayed Winston in 2015. Mariota had a better completion percentage than Winston (62.2 to 58.3), a better quarterback rating (91.5 to 84.2), a better touchdown to interception ratio (19-10 to 22-15) and a better average running the ball (7.4 yards per carry versus 3.9).

But Winston showed his merits too. He was tough and resilient, playing in every game for the Buccaneers while Mariota was dinged and then flattened missing two games for the Titans early in the year and two more at the tail end due to injuries. Winston was the only quarterback in 2015 that threw every pass for his team. His 4,042 yards passing was the third best rookie total of the past 20 years trailing only Andrew Luck's 4,374 in 2012 and Cam Newton's 4,051 in 2011. His rookie season was statistically better than Peyton Manning's in almost every way. Although he is not nearly as mobile as Mariota, Winston was able to run for 213 yards and six touchdowns. Despite being less mobile, Winston was much harder to sack, being dropped only 4.8% of the time he attempted to pass versus 9.3% for Mariota. It is counter-intuitively true that mobile quarterbacks get sacked more frequently than pocket passers. Their running ability does not make them immune to being sacked, it appears to make sacks more likely.

Both Tampa Bay and Tennessee can be proud of their top 2015 draft picks. Winston and Mariota definitely showed that they were worthy of their place on the draft board. Yet Tennessee has to be somewhat concerned about Mariota's durability, particularly given his style of play

Only one of the five other quarterbacks drafted in 2015 threw a pass last year, the Rams Sean Mannion who completed six of seven but for only 4.4 yards per attempt and 5.2 yards per completion. Garrett Grayson (Saints), Bryce Petty (Jets), Brett Hundley (Packers) and Trevor Siemian (Broncos) did not get the chance to attempt a pass during their rookie years.

Statistics for Quarterbacks Drafted In 2015
Jameis WinstonBuccaneers11153531258.340427.6224.1152.8274.884.2542133.96
Marcus MariotaTitans12237023062.228187.6195.1102.7389.391.5342527.42
Garrett GraysonSaints31175                                
Sean MannionRams325897685.7314.4000000.085.1        
Bryce PettyJets44103                                
Brett HundleyPackers511147                                
Trevor SiemianBroncos733250                         1-1-1.00