The 2QB folks at Fakepigskin Joshua Lake (@LakeTwoQBs), Josh Berger (@BergerTwoQBs), Drew Dodson (@DrewDodsonNFL), Regan Yant (@ReganFP) and I wound up having a great debate last night about Winston or Mariota in dynasty fantasy football. I mentioned something like I’d want Winston now for his value in trades, but Mariota long term as a QB on my team. I said rather point blank “Five years from now would you rather have Michael Vick or Russell Wilson?” I felt like it was a bit much to give details in a 140 character Twitter feed, so let me go into some detail here.
People might not like to hear or think of such a thing, but Michael Vick was a fantastic quarterback. When healthy you could count on him for 2500 or so passing yards with another 700+ yards rushing and a healthy dose of touchdowns in both categories. In 2006, arguably his best year, he had almost 2500 yards passing with a 20/13 TD to Int ratio with another 1000 yards rushing and another couple of TD’s on the ground. He was the toast of Atlanta and my own son had a Michael Vick shirt he loved wearing on the weekend when we would get out and toss the ball around in the yard. But we knew from the start there were character concerns, though they seemed minor. Rumors of marijuana use or possession, giving the finger to fans in New Orleans, even some crazy rumor of dogfighting. Character concerns. When Vick was convicted of dogfighting my son’s jersey went into the trash. He couldn’t stand to wear it anymore while curled up at night with our Dachshund “Watson”.
I feel Winston’s in that same arena. Fantastic talent, but what’s going to happen when he’s not on the field and has millions of dollars sitting around? Does he leave behind all his friends and college teammates (read: influences) who happen to be just up the road in Tallahassee? Does he suddenly have maturity and will he focus on football after not being able to do so in college when he still had to earn that big future paycheck? When he was at the combine he had a press conference where he stepped up to the microphone, held up a finger to the reporters, put a big grin on his face (like “man, I can’t believe people still believe when I say this sh—“) and proceeded spreading it on; like everyone there was a stupid reporter and wasn’t going to get anything out of him but the same dreck he’d been repeating all week. And that’s exactly what he did say. Forget about my past. I just want to play football. And everyone did exactly that.
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I couldn’t help but feel like Vick just wanted to play football too when he was sitting in a jail cell. At one point before his conviction Vick probably stood in front of Arthur Blank, the owner of the Falcons, put on a goofy grin and said something like “Nah, I don’t do dog fighting or pot or anything. I just want to play football.” And Arthur Blank bought it.
Sorry, I don’t buy it.
Instead of the #1 overall draft pick in the NFL in 2015 who probably has amazing skill and will probably have a rookie year for the ages, long term I’d want the #2 guy.
Not only is Mariota a pretty clean kid by all accounts, he was ranked as the most popular player in the NFL in 2015 even before he takes the first real-game snap. Compare that with Russell Wilson who barely has time for a life between football and all the charitable work he does. He makes a weekly visit to the Seattle Children’s Hospital and is the National Ambassador for the Charles Ray III Diabetes Foundation.
The argument for Winston is something like “But he’ll have Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to throw to and Mariota plays for Ken Whisenhunt who had a 2-14 record last year with no big name wide receivers!” Well, who does Russell Wilson have to throw to? I think you miss the point. “2020 vision” is looking five years down the road. Marcus Mariota was drafted #2 overall because he has the skill and charisma to overcome this short term situation he finds himself in. And yeah, his coach might not be all that and his receivers might not be all that. I probably wouldn’t play him in 2014. But five years down the road when the pieces around him shake out, I think Mariota has a shot at something. I just worry about Winston even staying out of trouble for a year or two.
Winston is undoubtedly the higher ranked player right now and might even have a great 2014. But I just don’t trust him. Sorry. I’d be selling him for that high value after a few good games and I’d be holding Mariota to see if the good guy with the skill that made him worth the second overall pick can overcome his new system and be the next Russell Wilson in a few years.