Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota are the top two quarterback prospects in the 2015 NFL draft class (Winston is currently our top-ranked prospect overall), and at this point, I think both players are still possibilities to be selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 1 overall pick.
But part of the reason there isn't more separation between the two has to do with Winston's well-documented behavioral issues. The team that drafts him is going to need to be comfortable with his past off-field issues, his maturity level and whether he's generally ready to handle being the face of an NFL franchise.
If you limit the evaluation to his and Mariota's game tape, however, I see a clear advantage for Winston in terms of his projection to the pro level. That's what I'll address in this article, using GIFs of specific plays to illustrate my points.
Here is why I consider Winston to be a safer on-field bet than Mariota:
Let's start with a look at some of the positive elements of Mariota's game. He's the No. 5 player on our board and a potential No. 1 overall pick for a reason, and this article is not intended to be a knock against him. He has several traits that show he has the potential to develop into a very good NFL quarterback, including his prototypical size, quick release, arm strength to make all the NFL throws, very good mental makeup and intangibles both on and off the field, and rare athleticism for the position.
That athleticism is on display when he rolls out of the pocket, and one of his greatest strengths is his excellent accuracy when throwing on the run. You can see that in the two plays contained in the GIF below of Oregon's 2014 win over Utah: