January 1, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) against the Florida State Seminoles in the 2015 Rose Bowl college football game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
2014 stats: 4,454 yards, 42 TDs, 4 INTs
Mariota should be able to benefit from a weak class, forcing a team to take him earlier than maybe they should. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think he’ll be a good quarterback; he was my favorite to watch this year.
In a normal draft, I think his draft range is in the late first round, around where the Broncos are picking. If for some reason he slips, I wouldn’t be against Mariota being the pick at 28.
I think the first thing that stands out about Mariota is his athleticism. He was in an offense that was quarterback friendly, often only having to throw to his first reads. When I watched him, it looks as if he was encouraged to run if his first read wasn’t there. I completely understand this philosophy with Mariota’s running ability. But that isn’t to say he can’t look confident coming off his first read and looking for his second read with poise in the pocket, because he can.
He also has supreme velocity and can complete passes to any part of the field. His ball placement to the intermediate parts of the field could be more consistent, but I don’t think it will be a problem in the long run.
What’s great about Mariota is I think, with time, he’ll develop into a perfect fit for Gary Kubiak’s offense. He can throw on the run with good accuracy and velocity, so he’ll be able to run boots at will. He also handles pressure well, which any quarterback who wants to last, even as a good backup, needs.
Mariota does have some bad habits, but most of them are fixable. His follow through needs to be addressed so it can be consistent throughout his throws. His ball placement on intermediate throws could also be more consistent.
His physical attributes, athleticism, touch, poise, and escapability make him a very good quarterback prospect. With time, he could fit in any offense, especially if he has the type of work ethic that he is hyped up to have. It just might take a year to make him more consistent.
PROJECTION: Late 1st round