Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon – 2015

Redshirt junior who has declared for the 2015 NFL draft.

Positives: He has excellent listed height and adequate bulk – and has increased his bulk during his college career. He has above-average arm strength and velocity. He is accurate at all levels of the field, and consistently throws a very catchable pass with good touch. Though he generally threw short and medium passes in college, he is also accurate enough on deep passes and will generally hit his receivers in stride going down the seam and on the sidelines. He is very accurate on short and medium passes, as well as on the run and when rolling out to his left. Though many of his plays take him outside the pocket, he is also poised and patient inside the pocket, going through his progressions well. He stands in the pocket under pressure. He has always taken very good care of the ball and seldom threw interceptions in college. Shows a willingness to throw the ball away when he has to. Doesn’t panic when rolling away from pressure, and he keeps his eyes downfield on the run. Under pressure, he is poised and athletic enough to evade pursuit, reset his feet, and deliver an accurate pass. When he runs, he is a natural runner with good speed and above-average quickness and vision – moving more like a wide receiver than a typical quarterback. As a runner, he protects himself pretty well, and knows when to slide – but will also lower his shoulder to get first-down yardage. Toward the sideline, he switches hands like a running back. He also seems to be pretty tough – even though he partially tore his left MCL in November 2013, he played through it. Though his offense at Oregon was unconventional, it did prepare him to make quick decisions. Good play fakes.

Negatives: At Oregon, he ran a high-tempo spread offense with a lot of read-option plays, and his offense succeeded often because it just caught the defense off-balance, so he may not be immediately ready to run a pro offense. He consistently shows below-average ball security, and he needs to protect the ball better on the run – we will hold it in one hand away from body through traffic. Though he generally shows a lot of ability and solid decision-making outside of the pocket, he will also sometimes throw across his body when he rolls out. Because his playing style is more about moving outside of the pocket, he has not developed his footwork inside the pocket. He doesn’t set his feet consistently enough either inside or outside of the pocket, and his accuracy gets thrown off a lot as a result. His playing style also brings up concerns about injury risk and durability, and, in addition to his 2013 MCL injury, he also sprained his right AC joint in January 2015. As far as intangibles go, he reportedly struggles with shyness and may not fill a team’s need for a vocal leader.

Projection: Round 1. He should be gone by the end of the first 10 picks of the draft, possibly with the first overall. He reminds me of a much more polished and experienced version of Ryan Tannehill who shouldn’t have much trouble transitioning to the pro game – and doing well at it.

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