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Survey: Jameis Winston has slight edge on Marcus Mariota

TAMPA, Fla. -- Since the moment the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, it has appeared to be a two-man race.

The Bucs desperately need a quarterback, and Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota are the best this class has to offer. Each has strengths and weaknesses. That's why we assembled an eight-person panel to break down Winston and Mariota in eight different categories.

The panelists are anonymous, but the group is made up of current and former general managers, scouts and players. Here's what they had to say about Winston and Mariota.

Arm strength. This was an easy one. The panelists were unanimous, giving all eight votes to Winston.

"It's not even close," one panelist said. "Mariota doesn't have a bad arm. He's average. Winston is well above average."

Accuracy. The panel was divided. Five gave the edge to Winston and three went with Mariota.

That's mildly surprising because Mariota had the better completion percentage last season. He completed 68.3 percent of his passes, while Winston completed 65.3.

The panelists were quick to point out that Winston had to make more difficult throws while playing in a pro-style offense. Mariota played in a spread system and wasn't asked to make as many deep throws.

Mobility. The panel was unanimous. All eight voted for Mariota.

That's no surprise because speed is considered one of Mariota's biggest strengths, and it's not an area in which Winston excels. Mariota ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds at the combine, fastest among the quarterbacks.

Footwork. This category was split down the middle, with each quarterback getting four votes.

"Winston doesn't have much speed, but his footwork is solid in the pocket," one panelist said. "You have to project what Mariota's footwork will be like in the NFL, because the system he played in in college isn't a fair comparison. But he has more than enough athleticism, so he should be able to make the transition."

Ability to run a pro offense. As you would expect, Winston was the easy winner in this category. All eight panelists voted for him because he ran a pro-style system in college, while Mariota did not. Mariota operated almost exclusively out of the shotgun formation, and Oregon rarely huddled.

"Mariota might be able to do it in time," a panelist said. "But you already know Winston can do it."

Football smarts. Both quarterbacks got high marks from the panel in this category, and there was no clear-cut winner. Each of them received four votes.

Leadership. This was another area of strength for both quarterbacks, although their leadership styles are very different. Mariota is quiet and leads by example. Winston is much more vocal.

The panel gave Winston a 5-3 edge.

Character. This issue has come up a lot in pre-draft chatter. There have been a series of off-field incidents involving Winston. There are no off-field questions with Mariota.

The panel voted 7-1 in favor of Mariota.

"It's easy to say Jameis doesn't have great character," said the one panelist who voted for Winston. "But I think his problems were due to immaturity. His coaches and teammates love him, and he's a great competitor. I think he already has matured from some of the stuff he has gone through, and the problems are a thing of the past."

Conclusion. After voting in each of the eight categories, the panelists were asked one final question: Which quarterback would you draft?

In some cases, the answer came quickly. In other instances, there were lengthy hesitations. The final tally was close, but there was a winner. Winston got five votes.

"I think both of them have a chance to be really good," a panelist said. "But there are no guarantees with either one of them. A lot of it is going to depend on where they end up, who's coaching them and who is playing around them."