As it turned out, the Buccaneers took Winston first overall, and the Titans took Mariota second. Now the person who was running Tennessee’s scouting says the Titans were ecstatic that the Bucs chose the quarterback Tennessee saw as the lesser of the two.
Picking Mariota was “an easy choice at that time,” former Titans director of scouting Blake Beddingfield told Paul Kuharsky of 104.5 The Zone.
Beddingfield said the Titans might have settled for Winston if the Bucs had taken Mariota, but they were definitely convinced on draft day that they were getting the better of the two players.
Of course, Beddingfield may come across as a little self-serving saying that now, after Winston has been suspended three games for groping an Uber driver. But Beddingfield made similar comments a year ago. And character was one of the primary arguments at the time for preferring Mariota over Winston: Mariota had a squeaky-clean image, while Winston had been accused of rape at Florida State, in addition to other off-field issues.
It’s now easy to see why weighing character as well as on-field performance made Mariota the superior pick.