By Ben Sullivan
If you still doubt that Eagles Supreme Leader made a serious effort to move up in the draft to take QB Marcus Mariota, here’s proof that not only did he try to get up to No. 2 but he was serious about No. 1!
Kelly tried to get all the way up from No. 20 in last week’s draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ No. 1 pick to grab Mariota. But the Bucs never wavered on Jameis Winston as their guy.
“There was communication with them,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday. “We definitely didn’t think twice about it.”
Licht is already glad he didn’t.
After Friday’s opening of rookie minicamp when Winston got busy immersing himself in the business of turning the Buccaneers around, Licht went home feeling pleased.
“I told my wife, Blair, ‘I gave him an A,”’ Licht said. “I thought it was a great day. He knew the offense already. He wasn’t overwhelmed.
“He was even a little ahead of the game. He was already trying to change protections. The coaches were like, ‘Wait up. Hold on.’
“You’re right. But the other guys aren’t there yet.”‘
Is Winston already locked in as Day 1 starter ahead of Mike Glennon?
“We drafted him No. 1 overall, so…” Licht didn’t need to finish.
Several veterans texted the second-year GM and coach Lovie Smith right before the draft to urge them to select Winston over Mariota, the former Oregon quarterback of Kelly’s fast-break offensive dreams.
“Either in a text or a phone call, it wasn’t so much them telling us what to do,” Licht said. “It was, ‘I don’t know what you guys are doing. But if you take Jameis No. 1, we’re all for it.”’
Smith said he got several texts as well from the Bucs core players.