Can Marcus Mariota Succeed in New York or Cleveland?

by Kolby Solinsky

White Cover Magazine

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Marcus Mariota has declared himself for the NFL Draft.

Is there any way he can, you know, undo that?

I know it sounds crazy. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will most certainly take Jameis Winston with their ‘earned’ first overall pick. They’ll toss aside the former Heisman Trophy winner’s off-field issues – which aren’t really off-field issues, because the issues are very much the product of him personally, and are therefore relevant to what he does on Saturdays and Sundays – and they’ll sink their teeth into a not-yet-professional quarterback most consider to be the country’s best.

The scouts question Mariota’s translation to an NFL offence or scheme. This is sort of crazy – it’s more a way to justify why they’d take a compromised human being like Winston over a standout everything like Mariota.

But Winston is a surreal talent, only the NCAA’s second-ever freshman MVP. (The first? Johnny Manziel of course, they year before. So let’s not call that experienced lobbying for the next level.) Winston’s also a Florida State kid, and the Bucs aren’t going to risk hearing about his probable NFL success if they pass on him – Can you believe it!? This guy played college down the street… and they let someone else take him!! AARON RODGERS AND THE ‘NINERS, HFGHJGHQIJDKLNB!!

And Mariota is next, after Jameis. He’s the second-best quarterback currently coming out of college, which most years would be a peachy problem to own.

Except Mariota will fall away from Tampa Bay – a last-place franchise with some first-place talent at wide receiver (like Mike Evans and Vincent Jakcson) and head coach (Lovie Smith) – and will slide to the New York Jets. Or maybe even the Cleveland Browns, who could trade up and hit reset under center for the 1,000th time.

That means Mariota could drift like a truck with a boat on the trailer, from confines he can grow into in Tampa to the dysfunctional rabbit hole of oblivion the Jets and Browns are famous for. For quarterbacks, certainly.

You know, you constantly hear about the quarterback problems the Jets and Browns have, as if it’s all on the men they draft… like it’s just some sort of dart board, a pick from a hat Cleveland’s management has no chance on. As if they guys they draft aren’t their responsibility after they draft them. CouchMcCoyWeeden, FryeQuinn, now Manziel. And more. You’ve heard the Niners and the Browns and the Ravens talk about, ‘Man, what if we had drafted Tom Brady in 2000? What if we had chosen him instead of Giovanni Carmazzi or Chris Redman or Spergon Wynn?’

Well, wouldn’t that have been a tragedy. Because as much as those GMs probably love to think, ‘Oh, we just picked the wrong guy,’ the truth is actually much more depressing. They didn’t pick the wrong guy – they were the wrong guy. There’s no chance Tom Brady goes to Cleveland or Baltimore or San Francisco and turns into the greatest of all-time. He was somewhat fortunate, of course, that Drew Bledsoe was injured when he was injured. That he fell not only to New England at 199th, but that he fell to Bill Belichick at 199th.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s the franchise’s fault. Not the phenom’s.

Maybe it’s not your draft that’s killing you, but your development.

How many quarterbacks have to fail in Ohio before they see the mirror and notice the wrinkles? How many times will the New York Jets try to inject potential into crumbling legs – Michael Vick, Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez, even Tim Tebow since 2010 – before they realize they’re a graveyard, not a university?

Not to say these clubs should just give up. Not to say they can’t win with Mariota.

But most quarterbacks are terrible. Almost all end up terrible – even an all-timer like Peyton Manning saw his legacy shoved out of the airplane last year, with his Super Bowl loss and Brady’s Super Bowl win, both to the same Seattle Seahawks.

It’s hard out there for a pivot. Mariota’s chances of success and survival are already small, and they’ll dwindle in Broadway’s New York or Manziel’s Cleveland, where the circus runs the fair.