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Jaworski gets chance to elaborate on Mariota-to-Bucs report, but doesn’t

In 2013, Ron Jaworski gave ESPN roughly 72 hours of content by declaring that Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. And so it makes sense for ESPN to try to get some extra mileage from Jaworski’s latest proclamation that the Buccaneers will take Marcus Mariota with the first overall pick in the draft.

“The latest I’m hearing now from my sources around the league, who are pretty wired in, is that he’s going to go number one now to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Jaworski said on CSN Philly’s Philly Sports Talk.

Appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter, Jaworski was asked to elaborate.

“All along we’ve been hearing Jameis Winston to the Bucs at No. 1 overall,” anchor Stan Verrett said to Jaworski. “Now you’re hearing Marcus Mariota, what’s going on?”

This is the point where Jaworski would have added to his prior statement, saying that the Buccaneers are privately telling people that they are taking Mariota, or that the Bucs have launched contract talks with Mariota’s agent. It was Jaworski’s chance to offer something tangible that would dovetail with his proclamation that Mariota will be the pick. But that’s not what Jaworski said.

“I am right now of the belief that Marcus Mariota is the best QB in this draft,” Jaworski explained. “I’m beginning to see a more clear vision of Marcus Mariota as the No. 1 pick in this draft. Right now, this is a process. It takes time. And it’s going to go right up to the last second I believe for the Buccaneers to decide who’s going to be their quarterback of the future, and who they take at No. 1.”

That doesn’t dovetail with Jaworski’s prior comments, which clearly came off as a report that they will take Mariota. Which clearly implies that the decision has been made. And now Jaworski clearly says a decision hasn’t been made.

Verrett threw Jaws a bit of a lifeline aimed at harmonizing two concepts that inherently conflict: “But you believe at this point, when the process is done, it’ll be Mariota?”

“Yeah, I believe it’s going to be Mariota,” Jaworski said. “This guy takes care of the football. And as I look at NFL tape every single week during the course of the season, the teams that win are the teams that are careful with the football. And when you look at Marcus Mariota, 105 touchdown passes, he takes care of the football. When I watched Jameis Winston last season, I saw far too many interceptions, in fact 18. And when I watched the tape there were 13 balls that should have been intercepted. So I like quarterbacks that take care of the football.”

That’s fine, but nothing Jaworski said Tuesday explained his position that, based on his sources, the Bucs will take Mariota. Jaworski makes a case for why they should, but that’s not the same thing as declaring that they will.

There’s something even odder than that disconnect lurking in this story. Jaworski initially said on Philly Sports Talk that Eagles coach Chip Kelly has declared Mariota will become a high-end franchise quarterback in the NFL.
“This is the time of year when everyone talks, and I talk to General Managers, I’ve talked to player personnel directors, and I’ve heard it from a couple or three people that have had conversations with Chip Kelly, and Chip Kelly said, ‘Marcus Mariota will win multiple Super Bowls in the National Football League,’” Jaworski said.

If Kelly said that, and if he believes it, then Kelly should be doing everything he can to get Mariota, even if that means “mortgaging the future.” If that loan allows Kelly and the Eagles to afford a house with a case that Mariota helps them fill with trophies, mortgaging the future isn’t a bad thing -- especially when the mortgage payments consist of current and future draft picks that Kelly views as inherent crapshoots.

So none of this makes any sense. But here’s something that does. With the draft 16 days away, there’s a chance that Jaworski is getting worked by a team or two in the top of the draft that doesn’t want or need a quarterback and that hopes both Winston and Mariota go early, pushing down the board players that those teams will be more inclined to pick. Or, alternatively, someone wants to pump up Mariota’s stock in order to extract more in trade from a team like the Browns, whose owner is desperate to get a franchise quarterback.

Regardless, Jaworski’s story isn’t holding up very well under even the softest of scrutiny from folks at ESPN who would love to turn it into another 72-hour phenomenon.