PHILADELPHIA -- Jameis Winston's decision to enter the NFL draft doesn't make it likely the Philadelphia Eagles can get into position to select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. The addition of Winston to the mix does, however, increase the Eagles' admittedly slim chances of obtaining a franchise quarterback.
Winston and Mariota will be the top two quarterback prospects in the 2015 draft. They have a chance to become this year's version of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III (2012) or Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf (1998) -- the first two overall picks of a draft after months of debate and discussion over which is the better choice.
The top two picks of this year's draft are held by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans. Both of those teams could easily justify choosing a quarterback. Either could just as easily decide not to roll the dice on a high draft choice at the position, given the risks.
If your team drafted Luck in 2012 or Manning in 1998, it hit the jackpot (actually, the same team, the Indianapolis Colts, hit the jackpot in both cases). But if your team came away with Leaf, it was back in the quarterback market within a year or two. The jury is still out on Griffin, but Washington's package to trade up for him -- three first-round picks and a second-round pick -- certainly looks pretty heavy right about now.
Mariota has not officially declared for the draft. He is preparing for the national championship game against Ohio State. But Eagles coach Chip Kelly called Mariota "the most talented kid that I coached in college" back in December. With his mobility and his abilities as a passer, Mariota does seem like the perfect quarterback for Kelly's offense.
Their Oregon connection has led to natural speculation that Kelly would like to find a way to reunite with Mariota. For his part, Kelly has had nothing but good things to say about Nick Foles, his current quarterback.
But if Kelly were to flex his newly acquired personnel muscles by trying to trade up for Mariota, then Winston's entering the draft can't hurt. If Mariota were the only elite quarterback available at the top of the draft -- and if QB-hungry teams were lured into a bidding war -- then the cost of trading up would skyrocket. That's if the Buccaneers were even willing to entertain the possibility of trading down.
Either way, it will be difficult for the Eagles to put together a package attractive enough to convince Tampa Bay or Tennessee to drop all the way down to the 20th pick. But at least Winston adds a second QB to the scenario, doubling the number of targets for teams trying to trade up and doubling the number of potential trade partners from one to two.