It was obvious who the top two picks in the 2015 NFL draft were gonna be.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota were the going to be the choices. There was never any doubt about that.
So when the Bucs announced Winston as the top pick, and the Titans grabbed Mariota with the second, it was very anticlimactic.
There will be nothing certain about either Winston or Mariota on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Both rookies enter their first-ever NFL regular season game, and both are playing for teams that are far from a sure thing.
The Titans and Bucs finished with identical 2-14 records in 2014, which gave them the luxury of taking two of the most heralded quarterbacks to enter the league in several years.
Winston was the youngest player to ever win the Heisman Trophy, and he also secured a national championship while under center for the Seminoles. Mariota finished with a 36-5 record with the Ducks, while also picking up a Heisman of his own.
But both players understand that none of that matters now. No one cares about what you did in college. It’s all about shining at football’s highest level, and both Winston and Mariota get the chance to do that from day one.
Playing quarterback in the NFL is as pressure-packed of a role as there is in sports. Winston and Mariota are both 21-years-old.
Yes, the fate of two franchises is in the hands of these two young guns. The question everyone wants to know the answer to is, which player will prove to be the better NFL quarterback?
The answer to that question will begin to unfold this season, but it’ll be a while before we know for sure. It seems unlikely that the Bucs or Titans will challenge for a Super Bowl trophy this season, however, it’s possible that both could compete for a Wild Card berth.
Even if one team makes the playoffs and the other doesn’t, the Winston/Mariota debate won’t be settled. Both guys will need time to grow, and there’s no doubt that there will be bumps in the road.
That’s how it goes for a young QB. Coming in and taking over the league isn’t likely to happen right away. Interceptions will be thrown and games will be lost from it.
Fans of these two franchises are hoping that not too many games are lost from it. The Titans and Bucs have already seen plenty of losses in recent years, so the hope is that Winston and Mariota will change all of that.
Rarely does a Week 1 matchup involving two teams that won a combined four games the previous season get a lot of attention. This year, that scenario could bring about the most anticipated game of the opening weekend.
That’s what happens when the top two picks in the draft are involved. And it certainly won’t be the only time this season that Winston and Mariota are in the spotlight.
For these two bright stars, the time is now. Their play will determine the future of their respective teams. It will also eventually answer the question as to which quarterback was the shining jewel of the 2015 draft.
And it all begins on Sunday in Tampa.