Whisenhunt says Mariota would be the starter right away
PHOENIX (AP) If the Tennessee Titans use the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to select Marcus Mariota, coach Ken Whisenhunt says he expects him to be the team's No. 1 quarterback right away.
Picks that high aren't drafted to stand around and watch.
''You talk about taking a quarterback at the first or second pick, you're probably going to play that guy,'' Whisenhunt said when AFC coaches met with reporters on Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings.
''As far as whether he's ready to do that, we're still in the process of evaluating what we feel about him. I like what I've seen so far. He's a talented player.''
Tampa Bay has the No. 1 pick in the draft, and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the odds-on favorite to be the Bucs' choice.
Just where the prolific Mariota will land is an open question. A number of factors - mostly revolving around him playing in a spread offense system in college, his ability to shift to taking the snap under center, and his whether he can read defenses at the pro level - have him slipping in many mock selections.
Whisenhunt said he's had a thorough look at Mariota.
''He's done a nice job in the time I've spent with him,'' Whisenhunt said. ''We spent time with him in the classroom. We worked him out. He exhibits a lot of the qualities that successful quarterbacks have. He doesn't turn the ball over a lot, is accurate when he throws it, can extend the play. His team gravitates toward him, you can see that. He has a lot of those things that those quarterbacks who have been successful in the league have.''
Tennessee, 2-14 last season in Whisenhunt's first season, already has a young quarterback in Zach Mettenberger, who started six games as a rookie.
The team also could look to address other needs.
Now Whisenhunt turns his attention to Winston.
''We haven't spent as much time with Jameis as we have with Marcus,'' Whisenhunt said. ''We'll go to his pro day next week and then we'll get a private workout with him.''
So far, Whisenhunt said he hasn't heard of any teams that might want to trade into the No. 2 spot.
''I think everybody's playing their cards pretty close to the vest right now,'' he said, ''just like us.''
''It happened really quick,'' new Bills coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday. ''We were in organization meetings, all the coordinators, the GM, Russ Brandon, the owners. Going over plans for free agency, what we want the team to look like.
''All of a sudden, there's a call from Philadelphia (that GM Doug Whaley took) and 30 minutes later the trade is done.''
''This was an opportunity that came up, that's it. We weren't so structured that we can't allow this to happen. It didn't take us long to come up with an answer.''
And his reaction to McCoy being available?
''We were just kind of like stunned there a little bit. We were like, `Really? Like wow. Let's just take it from there.' Obviously we were interested. ... We knew it wasn't going to be cheap by any stretch and losing a player like Kiko Alonso is obviously a steep price. But we felt really good about it.''
BIRTHDAY WISHES FOR THE OLD QB: From an old former QB to an old current one comes this: ''Happy Birthday, Peyton.''
New Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, once a longtime backup to John Elway, sent those greetings to his starting quarterback on Tuesday, when Manning turned 39.
''A couple weeks out from getting started, I'm looking forward to getting him into the building from a full-time basis so we can talk some football and do all those things,'' Kubiak said. Happy birthday to him and I can't wait to see him in a couple weeks.''
Kubiak believed Manning would be back for an 18th season (he sat out 2012 after neck surgeries) when the coach replaced John Fox in Denver.
''I thought it was very positive about what he wanted to do, but I also respected his time and the process that he and John (Elway) agreed to work to. I wouldn't say there was ever a time I thought, `No, I don't know if that's going to happen.' I always thought that he wanted to continue to play and felt good about himself, and obviously working through an injury. He's always been positive with me from the get-go.''
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