Prospect Comparison: Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston

NFL Draft Prospect Reports

The college football world was taken by storm by Jameis Winston, a redshirt freshman who has now won the Heisman trophy and National Championship. But before Winston came into the public eye, scouts were excited by the potential of Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. As the two vie to be the #1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, teams will be comparing the two players to choose their future franchise quarterback.



Both players have the ideal height to succeed at the QB position in the NFL, being listed at 6’4. Even if both come a bit under their listed height, they are more than adequate to succeed at the NFL level. In terms of their frame, Jameis Winston is built well. His muscular upper body bodes well for fundamental strength when going toe to toe with defenders and though his legs are a little thin, his lower trunk can take punishment and hold up. Marcus Mariota is on the slight side, despite being listed at 219 points. There is some fear with his running ability that he could be susceptible to injury. Mariota’s pencil thin leg muscles stand out as a weakness. Bulking up a little could qualm some fear about Mariota and how his frame will hold up in the NFL.

Advantage: Jameis Winston

 Check out On the Clock Premium: Mock Draft Simulator for Free!

Arm Strength: 

Putting zip on the football to get to the receiver quickly is the most important aspect of arm strength. Both quarterbacks put a very good spin on the ball with potential to rifle it to their wideouts. Mariota drives the ball well, though when throwing outside the hash marks (excluding screens,) his balls can float a little bit and could provide NFL defenses with a window to make a play. Marcus Mariota’s game has been based on an uptempo west coast style, so we have not seen the down field arm strength very often from him, but when called upon he has been able to step up with the deep ball. Jameis Winston has similar issues at times, but when all is going right, he has some of the best arm strength in the country. He drills balls into short spaces, especially in the red zone and even toward the sideline, and they get their before the defense can react. Winston can get it down the field well, but will need work to refine that. Both players have some arm strength weaknesses, but nothing that is a red flag. Both have good strength for the NFL, but Winston gets a slight edge for better sideline zip.

Advantage: Jameis Winston


Accuracy & Ball Placement:

Accuracy is Marcus Mariota’s bread and butter. With tons of experience in an offense that places a major emphasis on ball placement and yardage after the catch, Mariota puts the ball not only in a position for his receiver to catch it, but continue running without slowing down. He has rare accuracy and ball placement that many NFL quarterbacks dream of. Down the field, Mariota has a limited sample size but the results give promise for positive play action and deep throwing accuracy. Jameis Winston is still a work in progress. His fundamentals often lead to balls being a little too high or a little too low. Though still catchable, this flaw could be detrimental in the NFL. Winston’s deep accuracy has been spot on for some games and way off for others. There is a lot of potential still there for Winston if he develops, but he is not there yet in placing the ball.

Advantage: Marcus Mariota



Footwork and release are key to success in the NFL and very few quarterbacks can succeed at the next level if they cannot be fixed. Neither QB is perfect in these aspects, but Marcus Mariota plays almost exclusively out of the shotgun so it becomes very difficult to interpret his footwork from center. In a spread offense as Oregon is, he does very well planting his foot and driving the ball on throws. Even under pressure, he will take a firm grasp of the ground with his plant foot to increase power and accuracy. His release point and wrist positioning is excellent. Jameis Winston need improvement in both areas. He has instances of throwing off of his back foot and jittering his feet while looking downfield. This often leads to inaccuracies. He also has a strange release and release point, though it seems to work for him. This could be a hindrance in the NFL, but doesn’t appear to affect him (similar to Phillip Rivers). Both QBs keep their eyes downfield when reading the defense and seem to have extraordinary football IQs. Jameis Winston does have the pro offense experience, but Marcus Mariota appears further along.

Advantage: Marcus Mariota



Both players are very athletic and will have the ability to hurt defenses with their feet as well as their arms. Mariota has used read option plays and QB draws a ton in college with good results. Jameis Winston has shown the ability to take off and run both designed and not for huge plays to give his team a boost. This is a strength of both players with little advantage over each other, though considering Winston’s size, he will be very tough to bring down.

Advantage: Jameis Winston



Both players are documented as good leaders for their teams and have the support of their fellow players. Marcus Mariota has an impeccable record off the field and by all accounts has a high character. Jameis Winston has had some bad press of late between being accused of sexual assault (which he was not charged,) and walking out of a Publix super market without paying for crab legs he had on him. Though this bad press will likely be talked about a lot, it does not affect the intangibles grade of Winston much. But this type of concern gives Mariota the advantage.

Advantage: Marcus Mariota


Both players will be competing to be the top quarterback drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft (if both declare early,) and rightfully so with their success and talent. Marcus Mariota has the edge at this point in the year, but that could easily change if Jameis Winston shows improvement in his fundamentals and accuracy.  Both of those issues are very correctable and NFL coaching could easily turn both of these players into studs. Marcus Mariota is a bit more polished, but Jameis Winston might have more upside with his frame and arm.


Find more from Shane P. Hallam at or on twitter @ShanePHallam

Related Articles

2024 On the Clock Mock Draft Simulator is Live!

We have launched 2024 On the Clock mock draft simulator! It's never too early to start mocking for…

Read More about 2024 On the Clock Mock Draft Simulator is Live!

On the Clock LIVE is Here! Draft LIVE based on based on Real-time Data!

Fanspeak will be updating data real-time (immediately after each pick), including players picked and any draft order changes…

Read More about On the Clock LIVE is Here! Draft LIVE based on based on Real-time Data!