Marcus Mariota could be the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Here’s a full scouting report for the Oregon quarterback
Marcus Mariota won the 2014 Heisman Trophy on the strength of an incredible final season at Oregon. In the process, the redshirt junior quarterback established himself as a legitimate candidate to be the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Mariota completed 68.3 percent of his passes during the 2014 season, for 4,454 yards, with 42 touchdowns and just four interceptions, and added 770 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.
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While Oregon’s offense certainly set him up for success, the Honolulu native is far more than a product of the Ducks’ system. What follows is a complete scouting report for the 21-year-old as we approach his big day at the 2015 NFL Draft.
At the combine Mariota measured in at 6-foot-3 3/4 and 222 pounds. He also has big hands, at just under 10 inches. After that he turned in what might be the greatest workout ever by a highly-rated quarterback. Mariota blazed his way to a 4.52-second 40-yard dash, then showed a 36-inch vertical jump and a 121-inch broad jump. He also impressed with a 6.87-second three-cone drill and a 4.11-second 20-yard shuttle.
Physically, Mariota is a tall, lean passer who can move as well as any top quarterback prospect since Michael Vick. He’s a much more well-rounded passer than Colin Kaepernick, though that’s who he is often compared to. While Kaepernick is certainly the same kind of runner as Mariota, that’s where the similarities end. As a passer, I think Mariota compares favorably to Russell Wilson.
Rarely has a quarterback with Mariota’s speed been as well-rounded a passer as he is. He has a good, solid arm. It isn’t a howitzer like Joe Flacco or Kapernick have, but he can make every throw he will need to with ease.
He has a very nice, compact release that comes directly over his shoulder. There is no wasted motion in his delivery and that helps him get the ball out quickly when working in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field. His deep ball got much better during his junior year, but will occasionally lose zip as it approaches its intended target. He gets decent spin on the balls he dishes out, thanks to those large hands and quick release. The rotation can slow on longer throws and begin to wobble, but that was less of a problem in 2014.
In his three seasons as Oregon’s starting quarterback, Mariota went from a guy with questionable-to-average accuracy to a very accurate passer. Some have claimed that he didn’t need to be terribly accurate in Oregon’s system and that is absolutely true. The offense installed by Chip Kelly that Mark Helfrich and offensive coordinator Scott Frost have continued to run does lead to a lot of open receivers. But during his final season in Eugene Mariota showed a much more developed ability to squeeze the ball into tight windows when he needed to.
Mariota’s ball-placement isn’t perfect and certainly needs to be developed. But thanks to his excellent mechanics and outstanding footwork, that is less of a concern than it is for most young quarterbacks. If he can be taught to do everything else perfectly, I believe he’ll develop his ball-placement with NFL experience.
Jameis Winston has been lauded for his arm talent and rightfully so, but Mariota isn’t far behind.
If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that Marcus Mariota is a great kid. He’s highly intelligent, humble and works incredibly hard. He’s dedicated to getting better, is willing to be coached and has the drive to continue to improve the imperfections in his game.
What many people don’t realize is that Mariota was deeply involved in calling the offense at Oregon. He changed plays at the line frequently, and changed blocking assignments regularly. He also took his time and went through his progressions in the pocket, he was not a one-read quarterback like Johnny Manziel was at Texas A&M.
Something that has been under-reported is how impressive Mariota was in his interviews at the combine. That doesn’t just include his personality, he also did an outstanding job breaking down plays on the whiteboard. Mariota was much better on the board than teams expected him to be.
At Oregon Mariota was a quiet leader, who showed the way by his example, not his words. Those who played with and coached him sing his praises like I’ve never heard about another player in the lead up to the draft. At this point I expect to hear that he once walked on water and it immediately turned to wine in his wake.
This is a great kid who will be a phenomenal representative for whichever franchise drafts him.
Since the combine Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s stock has risen to astronomical levels, while Marcus Mariota has seemingly been left behind. But that’s not really the case. Several teams are higher on Mariota than they have ever been. It’s not hard to see why when watching the tape.
Mariota improved a lot this season, while Winston regressed in many areas. That kind of trajectory certainly favors Mariota. That’s not to say that Winston isn’t the top quarterback available this year, but there are arguments to be made that Mariota is the better choice. When you factor in the off-field issues Winston has had, it’s not hard to see why a team would favor Mariota.
Thanks to the offense he ran in college and the fact that he will need to adjust to the speed of the league I do think there will be an adjustment period for Mariota. While it might take him a year to get his bearings, no one will work harder than he will to become successful.
Scouting is an inexact science and there is no way to tell the future. Regardless of what anyone tells you, there are no sure things…except Andrew Luck. Given how much he improved at Oregon, how hard he works and the kind of guy he is, I have a hard time seeing Marcus Mariota being a bust. I currently have him rated slightly behind Winston, and at No. 7 overall on my board.