By: James Johnson
With two QB scouting reports under my belt, I decided to continue where I left off with yet another popular prospect who you can’t help but know of if you watch college football, and that’s Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. Whether it’s been through Heisman talks or ESPN highlights, the second year signal caller has been gaining buzz all over the world of college football, and after redshirting his freshman year, he is now one of the top two eligible QB’s for the 2014 NFL Draft. That said, we’ll take a look at Mariota in this report and evaluate if he is as good as advertised or a gimmick.
Prospect: Marcus Mariota
Measurables: 6’4, 212 lbs.
Tapes of Choice to evaluate: The three main tapes I used for the sake of this scouting report are his games against Virginia, Washington, and Stanford, all from this year.
Initial Thoughts and Strengths.
- His arm strength is the one of the best in this class. When he uses proper mechanics he can really throw some darts.
- Well above average athleticism, and mobility is second to none.
- Good at throwing out of the pocket and on the run. If you look at the Stanford game recently you’ll see he did a lot of this as the pocket broke down at times.
- Elusive while avoiding pressure in the pocket.
- He has a lot of upsides and has shown great strides from his freshman year. Scary thing is he still has a lot of room to improve.
- Excels at hitting his WR’s mid-field at the intermediate level.
- He puts good touch on his deep balls.
Weaknesses and Areas in Need of Improvement
- Though he does possess some NFL tools, my number one concern is the wide open Spread Offense he comes from. Will his success translate to the NFL? He’s coming from a school with a line of QB’s that haven’t so far.
- He’s a bit on the lanky side and will need to add some muscle.
- Questionable accuracy at times, though he is the victim of a lot of drops.
- Mechanics really need tuning which is common for spread QB’s. He needs to work on stepping into his throws as he often relies on what I call “all-arm” throws. He also has the tendency to throw flat-footed a lot. His foot work also isn’t all that great, but again it’s likely due to the system he’s in.
- He has a tendency to miss the “give me” throws at times. Just as sure as he made some good throws on the run during the Stanford game he also missed some easy ones while under pressure.
- As Matt Miller of the Bleacher Report noted, Mariota is just barely 20 years old and only has a little over 2o games underneath his belt. Starting a QB too young in his career can at times overwhelm a young prospect. One that comes to mind in recent times is Blaine Gabbert , who, according to Jaguars.com, is the youngest QB in the NFL to start at least 13 games. I could make the argument he may have been possibly thrown into the fray too soon.
- Could afford to use better ball security under pressure. Again, this was a problem I saw from him in the Stanford game as he lost multiple crucial fumbles when he was under duress.
Well this is easy….this young man is the second coming of Colin Kaepernick in terms of a college prospect. Like Kaepernick, he’s a freakish athlete, he’s coming from a wide open offense like, and has unreal arm strength like. Below is a GIF I made of Kaepernick doing what he did best in Nevada and still does well today in San Francisco–beating teams with his athleticism.
And if you thought he had some wheels check out Mariota below!
Now peep the cannon-like arm strength that both possess as I made two cuts with them making similar throws.
In conclusion, I just want to make note of the crazy about his comparison to Kaepernick–some feel he may be further along Kaepernick at the stage of his career, and I think that may very well be an accurate statement. Kaepernick was a very raw prospect coming into the NFL, but he was a bit older than Mariota currently is and he stayed in college until his senior season. Mariota is barely 20 and a hair better than Kaepernick was (when he entered the draft) in my opinion. Unlike Kaepernick, Mariota has the opportunity to stay in college and develop more as a prospect which is a luxury Kaepernick didn’t have.
I’ll start by saying this: personally, he is indeed a difficult prospect to evaluate, but before the Stanford game most had Mariota going anywhere from the #1 overall pick to the top 10 pick. I don’t know if his performance in that game will change people’s opinion, but personally his struggles in that game confirmed why I’d be afraid to draft Mariota in the top 5. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Mariota and his skill set, but as Bucky Brooks of NFL Network stated (who I don’t usually agree with), that game raised some concerns with how consistent Mariota would be under pressure. After watching the likes of Blaine Gabbert (and yes, I’m aware they are two TOTALLY different prospects) for three years and how he functions under pressure, I’m a bit cautious to jump the gun on Mariota. In his credit however, he did rally his team back and showed some good things in that game, but it was much too late when he did so. Another problem with that game is that it was the only one where he was truly challenged to me in this season, and I’d like to see how he functions in more games like the Stanford one. The PAC 12 championship game (which it looks like he’ll be in) as well as his bowl game will help me to further evaluate him. I also feel that he is a bit too raw and young to gamble on in the top 5 if you’re a team like Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, at least for the time being. Again, I want to go back to the fact that he has only started 20 + games, whereas the prospect most tend to put him in competition with in this year’s draft, Teddy Bridgewater, now a junior, that has been playing since the early part of his freshman year. That being said, I personally would like to see Mariota stay in college and develop one more year, but with the top 3 like grades some analyst are giving him it’s possible the draft committee might give him a similar grade. If that is the case, he may very well have a tough choice to make as to whether or not to enter the draft 2014.
Furthermore, the system he comes from is a big concern of mine as well, though Chip Kelly has been successful with it so far in the NFL. Problem is, when the NFL adjust to his offense, will it be as effective? Only time will tell, and the same could be said for Mariota if he decides to enter the 2014 draft.
As usual I appreciate the read and as always you guys can feel free to follow me on Twitter and give me your thoughts.