Kurt Warner: ‘Jameis Winston Hands Down #1 Pick’

Given that it’s draft week, most of our NFL coverage has centered on, well, the draft.

But not all of it – especially not when it involves two-time MVP Kurt Warner, who spent part of this offseason coaching and mentoring San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“He had reached out to a couple guys that I know in Phoenix . . . to have them help him,” Warner explained on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Since they knew me, they reached out to me and asked if I’d be wiling to come over and help out and I was all for it. I had talked to Colin a couple times before that and said, ‘Anytime you want to get together or anything I can help with, give me a call.’ So it all just kind of worked out that we were in the same area.”

Warner, 43, worked out with Kaepernick, 27, a couple times each week for about six weeks.

“Really enjoyed it,” Warner said. “(He’s a) great kid, works his butt off. The big challenge for him is he’s a great athlete that has played the quarterback position very much as an athlete through most of is career and been very good at it. But now that the league starts to catch up to you a little bit, you kind of have to expand. You have to grow. And he’s got to get more comfortable in a quarterback position, a passing-friendly position, so he can make some of those easier throws you have to be able to make and not rely on your athleticism.

“So he worked hard and made some strides,” Warner continued. “The big question now becomes was it enough time to make some of that stuff normal for him so when the bullets start flying and he gets into the action and speed of the game that he can rely on some of those things that we worked on pocket-wise and throwing with touch? As opposed to resorting back sometimes to just being an athlete and allowing that to get you out of trouble.”

Kaepernick threw for 19 touchdowns and a career-high 10 interceptions last season.

(Okay, now back to the draft.)

Warner was asked which quarterback – Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota – he would take if the decision were completely up to him.

“If we’re just talking football-wise – because obviously there’s some questions (about) the background of Winston, obviously nothing with Mariota – but if I’m just talking football-wise, I believe Jameis Winston’s hands down the No. 1 pick,” Warner said. “Because of what he’s shown us, because of the system that he’s played in, because of the things he was asked to do on the football field – we just have a better body of work to be able to gauge from. We’ve seen him do a lot more of a pro-style offense in college. We’ve seen him make a lot of different kind of throws. We’ve seen him compete in a lot of different situations.”

Mariota, meanwhile, comes with a few more on-field questions.

“Great body of work as far as success is concerned,” Warner said, “but when you’re looking at it (and) correlating it to what he’s going to have to do at the next level, it’s not apples-to-apples. And so there’s a lot of questions on how much does he know from the standpoint of reading coverages? How much did he have to anticipate? Can he do those things? Here’s a guy that never even took a snap under center and never called a play in the huddle. He’s going into an NFL training camp and those are things he hasn’t done for a couple years now. So those are the questions that you have to have,
and if you’re taking a guy No.1 and you’re in that situation as a team, I want the known commodity more than the unknown commodity.

“But again, that’s all saying football-wise,” Warner continued. “Now you have to really vet out who these guys are off the field and how you feel they’re going to lead your franchise – and that’s the answer I don’t have. (The Buccaneers have) done a lot of work on that background. If they pick (Winston) No. 1, it’ll let us know that that work showed them they shouldn’t have any reason to have concern about the character. If they don’t take him No. 1, I think it’s going to show us just the opposite. But they said they’ve done a lot of work and talked to a lot of people to really vet that out and make sure that if they take him No. 1, he’s the right guy to lead their franchise.”

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