Jameis Winston was in town first. On Monday, the Buccaneers got a look at the other quarterback option at the top of the draft.
Now the hard part begins -- which one does Tampa Bay take?
The team tried to make the talented Oregon quarterback feel at home, starting with a tour of the facility at One Buccaneer Place, led by General Manager Jason Licht, followed by a one-on-one in the GM's office. By mid-day, the formalities were over and the Heisman Trophy-winning playcaller was already with the offensive coaching staff, watching film.
"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.
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 Winston are universally regarded as the cream of this year's quarterback class; and the team had Winston in town on March 4 for evaluation. The process is not uncommon for teams with the first few picks to schedule meetings with potential top players.
A Tampa Bay contingent led by Licht attended Oregon's pro day last week 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.
"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."
"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."