Dirk Koetter did such a good job with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston last year that the Buccaneers promoted him from offensive coordinator to head coach. But Koetter initially thought the Bucs should have passed on Winston with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
Koetter revealed Wednesday that he preferred Marcus Mariota after his initial evaluation of film, and he had to be persuaded by others in the Buccaneers organization that Winston was the better pick.
“I was probably one of the last people holding out going through the whole process last year. There was plenty of other people convinced way before I was that this was the guy,” Koetter said of Winston, via the Tampa Bay Times.
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, an old friend of Koetter’s, had him convinced that Mariota will be an NFL star.
“I was only a holdout in that we were basically comparing two really good players: Jameis and Marcus Mariota,” Koetter said. “Both really, really good players. And my job that I was assigned was more the film evaluation part. So other people were evaluating all the other staff. But as we got to pro days and we got around the other coaches, you’ve got to remember, Mark Helfrich was a [graduate assistant] for me at Oregon and was a quarterbacks coach at Boise and Idaho State. Mark is telling me, ‘Marcus Mariota, you guys are idiots, you’re not going to draft Marcus Mariota? You guys are stupid.’ Well, that’s a guy I’m really close to.”
After a year coaching Winston, however, Koetter said, “Now, I’m a true believer that Jameis is off the charts.”