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Draft King Analysis
September 24, 2014
Lou Pickney,

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It's been an interesting last two weeks and change for me. I no longer work at WSYX/WTTE. I got to visit my new nephew, Benjamin, in Nashville. I saw the Cowboys beat the Titans at LP Field. I returned to Columbus and have battled a series of debilitating migraine headaches.

Sometimes life is not easy. Sometimes life is not fair. And, sometimes, things randomly work themselves out.

That was the case for Florida State this past Saturday night, playing a fired-up Clemson team without star QB Jameis Winston, who was first benched for a half and then benched for an entire game for an alleged incident in the student union. It was a struggle with the offense not clicking like it normally does and the defense under more pressure than normal to keep the opposition out of the end zone.

FSU escaped with an overtime victory and, for now, holds onto the top spot in the AP poll. Never underestimate the power of the status quo. Luckily, with the mini-playoffs now in place, there is a bit more wiggle room at the top as far as teams hoping to be crowned national champion.

Relating to the draft, Jameis Winston's stock took a hard hit. He has been accused of some serious things, particularly in comparison with the immature but not illegal actions of this past Tuesday. But the guy who is running away with the top QB prospect title, and the favorite at this point to win the Heisman, is Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.

To be clear, Mariota didn't earn this designation by default. He is off to a great start for 2014 by just about any measurement you want to pick. After four games: 13 touchdowns, zero interceptions, 74% completion rate. He has near-ideal height at 6'4" and he can run like the wind. If he stays healthy, you could see him end up as the #1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

So, how far has Winston fallen? Mel Kiper has moved both Mariota and Bryce Petty ahead of him on his big board. I can't say that I concur with the placement of Petty above him, though Winston needs to do some major PR damage control to overcome the likelihood that many teams having him pegged as immature.

At the very least, if it comes down to a tiebreaker for the first team to draft a QB, you would figure that Mariota has the strong edge... at least for now.


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