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Jameis Winston needs to win interviews

TAMPA, Fla. -- Word has been trickling out via various media in recent days that the Buccaneers are higher on Jameis Winston than they are on Marcus Mariota.

That shouldn't come as any big surprise as long as we're just talking about the football aspect. Of the two quarterbacks expected to go early in the draft, Winston obviously is the more ready of the two to play in the NFL.

Winston has spent his career at Florida State in a pro-style offense. At Oregon, Mariota has played in a spread offense. Mariota could be a special player, but it will likely take time for him to develop if he lands with a team that runs a pro-style offense (like the Bucs).

Winston already has the pro-style experience and he could be ready to play right away. That's highly significant because coaches don't get a lot of time to win and they need guys that can play right away.

All that said, it's not a given that the Bucs will take Winston over Mariota. There's another part to the equation that's just as important as football. That's off-the-field issues and maturity.

In that regard, there are questions about Winston. If the Bucs are going to take him, they've got to get all the right answers. Winston's been involved in some off-field issues and that's why the pre-draft aspect that is most important for him will be how he comes off in interviews.

Like any team with the first overall pick, the Bucs are going to invest a lot of time in seeing what kind of person they're getting. That's because they may end up investing millions of dollars in him and making him the face of the franchise.

Teams interview players at the scouting combine and host them on private visits. In a lot of cases, teams will interview people that have coached, played with or known the prospect at various points in his life. That's called due diligence and it's smart.

If the Bucs indeed are sold on Winston as a player, they better be sold on him as a person before they draft him.