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Buccaneers leaning Winston at No. 1

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Four weeks before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on officially on the clock in the 2015 NFL Draft on April 30, head coach Lovie Smith does not deny Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the leader in the clubhouse to be the No. 1 pick.

“No, I wouldn’t say it’s an erroneous assumption,” Smith said in response to a query about the Bucs taking Winston over Oregon’s Marcus Mariota first overall. “I would say when people make that assumption, we haven’t had the pro workout (for Winston) yet. But we’ve done a lot of research, have watched a lot of video and had both of them in and talked with them individually and had them on the board. But the process, the game isn’t over yet. I think you can have a leader, but you have to let the game play out and we’re doing that.

“We’re excited about this final stage almost to decide exactly which direction to go.”

The Buccaneers hosted both quarterbacks at One Buc Place this month. Smith, who said after releasing quarterback Josh McCown on February 11 that Mike Glennon is a capable starter, all but guaranteed the team will draft a quarterback.

“Odds are, we’re going to go a certain direction. But we don’t have to make this decision and you wait until you have to,” Smith said. “We would feel very comfortable, though, picking one of the (quarterbacks).”

The Buccaneers have drafted just two quarterbacks in the first round since 1994 – Trent Dilfer was No. 1 overall that year, and the previous regime picked Josh Freeman in 2009 – and neither worked out as planned. As part of the evaluation process, the Buccaneers are spending “hours” on research of Winston and Mariota, who met with ownership. The Glazer Family signed off on drafting either player earlier this week.

Smith echoed Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt’s position that Mariota’s disposition and demeanor are not concerns. Smith said Mariota was not quiet or shy in meetings with the team. The Titans, who pick second, could draft Mariota if the Buccaneers snag Winston.

Winston won the national championship and Heisman Trophy and enters the NFL with only one loss on his resume from Florida State. Beyond off-field questions, Smith said there are areas where Winston can improve.

“That’s one part, you say ‘What can improve?'” Smith said. “Us getting him on proper nutrition. Lifting. Getting him in the weight room. When I say he’s an immature athlete, he hasn’t a chance to really develop his body. You say, ‘Jameis, what are you least proud of?’ He’ll say, ‘The 40-yard dash. I was embarrassed.'”


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