Marcus Mariota QB Oregon #8
Size/Athleticism: Prototypical height. Too skinny. Needs to add weight in order to take the pounding at the next level, especially if he’s in an offense that calls for designed roll outs, read-option or designed runs. Exceptional athlete for the position. A serious threat to run, but it isn’t his go-to weapon.
Arm strength/Accuracy: Accuracy is solid when standing in the pocket but suffers when he rushes. Does not set his feet often enough and it leads to errant throws. Limited experience throwing into tight windows due to Oregon’s offense. Accuracy is inconsistent under pressure, but he’s capable of firing some bullets into tight spots when off-balance, leading to high hopes for his development in this area. Arm strength isn’t quite elite, but he’s capable of making every throw in an NFL offense.
Footwork/Release: Fundamentally sound when he takes his time in the pocket. Has a tendency to rush his footwork and release when trying to get off a quick throw. Very robotic when he isn’t pressured (which he usually isn’t)—this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but how will he handle adjusting to the NFL where pressure does not allow him to go through his designed movements as frequently? Has a very quick release which helps him handle pressure, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to good throws.
Decision making: Does a great job of being patient and not tucking to run too soon. Plays in a very friendly system which does not require him to go through multiple reads (usually) and makes things very easy for him. This doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of handling more (he’s intelligent and he probably is) but it does make this area more of an unknown than for other quarterbacks.
Intangibles: Very quiet and, fair or not, some teams will definitely question his ability to be a leader. Oregon coaching staff speaks extremely highly of his work ethic and leadership, but it’s a unique culture there and not every NFL coach will buy into his ability to transfer that leadership to the NFL. My personal opinion is that he will be just fine, so long as he is in a supportive situation. If a GM drafts him and his coach doesn’t fully buy in, he probably isn’t the type who will excel and grow into a leadership role under those circumstances.
Durability: Played through a sprained knee in 2013. Frequently slow to get up when taking big hits. Slight frame raises concern for durability in the pros despite his ability to remain relatively healthy in college.
Overview: Mariota is a physically gifted athlete who is still developing as a quarterback. he shows a lot of the traits necessary to excel (arm strength, mobility) and has some of the fundamentals down (quick release, keeping his eyes downfield under pressure). There are certainly enough positives to make a strong argument for him as a first-round prospect. However, there are some flaws (inconsistent accuracy) and some unknowns (durability due to skinny frame and ability to make pre-snap reads in an NFL offense). Ultimately, I view Mariota as a Colin Kaepernick-type prospect. You can build a successful offense around his strengths, but he will only have success at a high level if he’s in a strong system with a quality supporting cast. He won’t carry a team by himself.