Photos from Marcus Mariota's visit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at One Buc Place on March 16, 2015.
On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did their best to make former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota feel at home at One Buccaneer Place. Chances are, he'll feel most comfortable when he sits down in the offensive coaches' meeting room.
Mariota was in Tampa because the Buccaneers own the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and obviously must consider using that asset on a potential franchise quarterback. Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston are universally regarded as the cream of this year's quarterback class; Winston visited Buccaneer headquarters on March 3.
A Tampa Bay contingent led by General Manager Jason Licht attended Oregon's Pro Day last Thursday to see Mariota throw, but the evaluation of any potential first-overall pick goes much deeper than arm strength and footwork. Monday's visit was, in part, an opportunity for Mariota to show off his football acumen.
Mariota's visit began with a tour of the facility led by Licht, followed by a one-on-one conversation in the G.M.'s office. By mid-morning, however, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was watching film with the Buccaneers' offensive staff.
"This is an opportunity to show how much [I can do] mentally," said Mariota, shortly after meeting with Licht. "It's going to be one of those times when you get to talk about football. I've been looking forward to it. It's going to be fun.
"That's going to be huge. It's an opportunity to market yourself and show how much you know. Again, I'm just looking forward to it."
In a larger sense, Mariota would like to get a better feel for the mutual comfort level between himself and the Buccaneers. He's going to hear his name called on the draft's first night, but he's much more concerned with ending up in the perfect situation than being the first player selected.
"Being the first pick, to me it's not a huge thing," he said. "I'd love to play for the Bucs. With that being said, if you find the team that wants you, that's going to be the right team. I look forward to marketing myself and finding that team."
The cross-country trip to Tampa was just another stop for Mariota on the long journey leading up to April 30, one that has already had important stops in Indianapolis (the NFL Scouting Combine) and Eugene (Oregon's Pro Day). This particular stop, though, could go a long way in determining his final NFL destination.
"It's a blessing to be here today and I'm very thankful," said Mariota. "For me, I'm going to try to make the most of it."
*Buccaneers Season Pass Members were treated to an exclusive preview of Mariota's visit earlier today. To learn more about the benefits of being a Season Pass Member, go to my.buccaneers.com!