There has been plenty of discussion and belief that South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be the players most considered for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but don’t sleep on Oregon Ducks signal-caller Marcus Mariota who could jump in to the discussion if he declares.
When you think of redshirt sophomores that could be among the top quarterbacks selected next year, Johnny Manziel is often a name that comes up, but it is Mariota who is getting the attention of NFL teams and there are at least a few that already prefer him to Teddy Bridgewater.
I can picture Marcus Mariota throwing to Justin Blackmon over the corners of the AFC South for years to come, if Blackmon can find a way to stay on the straight and narrow after his dangerous dalliances with alcohol. (You can tell I’m dubious.) But as I said on NBC Sunday night, what was once a virtual certainty—either Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or South Carolina pass rusher Jadaveon Clowney being the first pick in the draft next May—is now in doubt.
Mariota will be draft-eligible next May (as will many other attractive quarterbacks, including Johnny Manziel) because he’s in his third college season out of high school. And at least two teams love Mariota to the point that I believe if he comes out those teams would have him higher on their board than Bridgewater.
Mariota has all of the skills that you would look for in a franchise quarterback and his mobility would allow offensive quarterbacks to add another wrinkle to their offense.
There was plenty of hype about Robert Griffin III coming out of Baylor, but Mariota possesses the skills to be a much better pro quarterback and live up to the hype that surrounded RG3.
There are still months for the draft process to play out, but Mariota is continuing to gain steam as he goes on an assault of college defenses and puts himself near the top of the Heisman Trophy race.