Scott Fowler

Winston, Panthers are soon to meet

Jameis Winston reacts to the announcement with his grandmother, Myrtle Winston, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select him as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Bessemer, Ala.
Jameis Winston reacts to the announcement with his grandmother, Myrtle Winston, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select him as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Bessemer, Ala. AP

The Carolina Panthers were never in the running to take Jameis Winston, but they sure are going to see a lot of him soon.

I think Winston will be the starter for Tampa Bay by Oct. 4, when Carolina plays the Buccaneers for the first time in 2015. And surely he will be by Jan. 3, when the Panthers close the regular season against the former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida State.

Winston, drafted No. 1 overall Thursday, is going to give the Panthers a lot of trouble with his athleticism, but ultimately I think Marcus Mariota will have the better career. It's not just because he has a squeaky clean reputation compared with Winston – although that doesn't hurt.

It's more because Mariota is less mistake-prone. Winston gets credit for a lot of great second-half comebacks as a Seminole, but he was often putting his team into those bad positions in the first place. NFL defenses aren't nearly as forgiving.

▪  I am surprised that new Chicago Bears coach John Fox ended up with a wide receiver at No. 7 overall. West Virginia's Kevin White?! Really? Fox has always been a defense-first coach.

Of course, Fox also coached a dynamic offense in Denver, but that was because he had Peyton Manning. Now he's got Jay Cutler at quarterback, who is not a QB I would ever want if my job depended on his performance no matter how many good receivers he’s got.

▪  Roger Goodell's butchering of Oregon quarterback Mariota's name when the NFL commissioner was declaring the No. 2 overall pick was an embarrassment. Mariota's name must have been said thousands of times on ESPN and the NFL Network in the past few months.

▪  The dream of some Panthers’ fans that Georgia running back Todd Gurley would be there at No. 25 was quickly put to rest when St. Louis took him with pick No. 10. Too bad, for that would have been fun.

Fowler: sfowler@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @scott_fowler

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