14 years have passed since Ron Wolf last ran a football team. It's been even longer since he last had to make a big decision about a quarterback. Still, the opinion of a Hall of Fame general manager deserves attention, especially when it involves the most important position in football. When Sports Illustrated's Peter King asked Wolf whether he prefers Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, the two top quarterbacks in the 2015 NFL Draft, the former Packers GM said he'd ride with Winston.
Wolf has been involved in the NFL as a consultant, having worked with the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets in recent years. Though he's served mostly to aid the hiring process for general managers and head coaches, he also keeps an eye on the talent coming out of the college ranks.
And while Wolf said "it isn't fair" for him to provide a complete opinion on Mariota yet, he says Winston stood out as a potential franchise signal caller.
"I've seen Mariota on tape—I'd have to see a lot more of him—and I've seen Winston in-person and on tape," said Wolf. "I've been exposed to Winston more. I watched Winston versus Miami before the game, down on the field, and then will his team back from a 16-point deficit. He's an imposing guy. He has everything you'd want in a quarterback. I thought he was superb. What I know about Winston I like a lot. I'd take him in a heartbeat."
For Wolf, acquiring a franchise quarterback often comes down to a gut feeling. Even after a lengthy evaluation process, it still can be difficult to separate two prospects. Trusting one's instincts is sometimes the only way to make a choice.
"You have to have conviction in that job, as general manager," Wolf said. "I had one about Favre. I thought he was the best player in the draft the previous year, so one year later, what am I going to do if I can get him for our first-round pick? At the time, our quarterbacks in Green Bay were Don Majkowski, Blair Kiel and Mike Tomczak—a 10th and 11th-round pick, and a free agent. You look around the league, and some teams have first-rounders backing up first-rounders. My attitude was you gotta keep going after it. If you had a conviction about a guy, you better go with that."
The whole MMQB piece is worth your time. King also asks Bill Polian for his take on Winston vs. Mariota.