Marcus Mariota has finally decided to take his talents to the NFL, though it was one year later than I anticipated for him. Many scouts and analysts think Mariota could have been the first player taken by Houston in last year’s draft if he had decided to declare as a redshirt sophomore. Instead he decided to stay in school for one more season and was rewarded with a Heisman trophy and a berth in the national championship game against Ohio State.
So what does Mariota bring to the table as a draft prospect? Well like Jameis Winston he offers many tools that will translate to the NFL, but he also has some traits that will worry some coaches and GMs going forward. Both quarterbacks have long been expected to go early in the first round and are considered 1A and 1B for almost everyone. With both officially declared to head to the draft the debate is sure to pick up even more steam than before as we head towards draft day.
Lets take a look at the pros and cons of potentially drafting Marcus Mariota.
- Measures in at 6’4, 220 pounds. Very solid measureables that will appease those scouting him.
- Accumulated a 36-5 record as a starter at Oregon. He’s a winner and that trait won’t go overlooked.
- Racked up almost 11,000 yards through the air through his career. Completed 105 TD passes to only 16 interceptions. That TD/INT ratio is video game like. He took Oregon’s offense to new levels even for them.
- A true dual threat quarterback. Ran for 2,237 yards and 29 TDs during his career at Oregon.
- Extremely gifted athlete. Has great straight line speed and has the ability to hurt defenses with his wheels.
- Has the ability to extend plays with his feet while keeping his eyes down the field. Will frustrate many defenses will his ability to escape the pocket and make plays.
- Has good enough arm strength to make the necessary throws in the NFL. He isn’t Matt Stafford by any means, but he can put plenty of zip behind his passes and snap off good pro caliber throws.
- Makes outstanding decisions with the football and didn’t throw a lot of interceptions. As impressive as his touchdown numbers are, the low number of interceptions is much more impressive.
- Makes his reads quickly and accurately. More often than none he is getting the ball out fast and finding the open man. Didn’t sack himself much by holding on to the ball too long.
- Has the ability to beat you from the pocket. Doesn’t rely heavily on his wheels when receivers don’t come open. Shows patience and hangs in and delivers passes.
- Has a very high football IQ. Won’t have an issue above the shoulders when it comes to adapting to the NFL.
- Clean off the field record. This is the last guy you will have to worry about getting into trouble when he isn’t at the football complex. Never once got into trouble while he was at Oregon.
- Added a Heisman trophy to his already stellar resume his final year at Oregon. He was the landslide winner over two other deserving candidates.
- His upside is through the roof if he comes into the right system and his tools are utilized correctly.
- Not the fiery in your face leader, but goes about his business quietly and still gets the job done.
- Put up gaudy numbers in a spread system that is known for producing quarterbacks that don’t translate to the NFL.
- Was asked to throw a lot of quick passing route and screens that didn’t require throwing the receiver open. Will need to show he throw his receivers open at the next level.
- Though he did make some throws into tight windows, he threw into a lot of big windows and open receivers due to the way the offense is designed.
- Oregon’s offense is designed to not beat itself, so he will have to adapt to a scheme that won’t provide as much protection to the QB at the next level.
- Will need to land with the right offensive coordinator with the right scheme so that he is used correctly. Any offense he goes in will have to adapt to his skillset or the experiment won’t last long.
- College spread quarterbacks have a longer learning curve coming into the NFL. He will have to prove to coaches and GMs that he can buck that trend.
- Despite not throwing many interceptions, he had an issue with fumbling the football. Ball security is important at every level and it won’t get easier with NFL pass rushers coming after him.
- Had some injuries he had to battle while at Oregon. While he played through them, he does have an injury history that is worth monitoring.
- Can he win the big game? He needs to prove that he can excel when the lights are the brightest and the pressure is at its highest.
- Is he just the product of a great system? Like it or not, history isn’t exactly on his side when it comes to the system he ran at Oregon. Again he will have to prove that he can buck the trend.
Just like with Jameis Winston, Mariota isn’t a perfect prospect. Neither one of these guys are Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning or John Elway. While Mariota definitely has his flaws, it is nonsense to say that he doesn’t have the tools or ability to become a good starting quarterback in the NFL. Yes, I get he came out of a system that has been friendly to quarterbacks over the years, but at the same time he took that system and elevated it to a new level. The kind of numbers Mariota put up don’t happen by accident, and they sure heck won’t happen year in and out. If Oregon had quarterbacks that did what he did every year then they would have quite a few Heisman trophies on display in Eugene.
These numbers aren’t a fluke and Oregon will definitely miss Mariota next year as they adjust without him under center.
Mariota has tools that will intrigue several scouts and GMs during the draft process and think he has the physical and mental abilities to stick in the NFL.
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