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Friday, 17 April 2015

2015 NFL Draft: A Scouts Eye View: Marcus Mariota QB Oregon

Marcus Mariota QB Oregon (RJr)

Measurables: 6'4 222 9 7/8" hands

Combine Results: 4.52 40 yard dash, 36" vertical jump, 121" broad jump, 4.11 20 yard shuttle

Size/Build/Pocket Presence: Has prototype height for the position... He has added some bulk since the end of the season to prepare for the pro game, even more added muscle would help him stay on the field and take the punishment he's likely to endure with his duel threat style of play.  Grade B+

Arm Strength: More than enough arm to make every necessary NFL throw...Has impressive velocity on short and intermediate throws even throwing on the run in either direction...Ball just seems to fire out of his hand, effortless, easy zip on his passes, similar to Aaron Rodgers...Lacks elite arm strength in terms of throwing the deep ball, but has more than enough to test the defense vertically....Oregon offense didn't call for many challenging throws, and didn't force him to throw into too many tight spots but he has the arm talent to zip the deep out from the opposite hash and the velocity to fit the football through tight windows.  Grade B+

Accuracy/Timing/Ball Placement/Touch: Outstanding accuracy in short and intermediate throws, highly adept at leading receivers and allowing them to make plays after the catch...Doesn't seem to lose any zip or accuracy throwing on the run...Misses high more often than you'd like...Accuracy could actually improve in more of a pro style system, because when he did miss his target it was usually when he was asked to make excessive play fakes and read option action which forced him to rush his ball handling and footwork and caused him to lose his release point...When he was asked to simply set and throw his accuracy was impeccable...Did lose some accuracy on film when he'd rush himself throwing to a secondary read, this could be due to his primary read so often being open in the Oregon system, has to stay poised and not rush his mechanics when he's forced to go deep through his progressions...Ball sails on him over the middle more often than you'd prefer, if you're going to miss over the middle, it's preferrable to miss low rather than high to protect receivers and protect against turnovers, needs to get the ball down over the middle more consistently at the pro level where only his receiver can make the catch since coverage will be much tighter than he's used to....Seems to have a good feel for when to utilize touch and when to put some extra zip on the ball, generally throws a very ctachable ball, but he does try to throw with too much touch over the middle on ocassion which will lead to more turnovers at the pro level...Has great touch dropping the ball behind the second level and in front of the third level of zone coverage...Has a great knack for using his eyes to look off the defense and for throwing receivers open, has improved in both areas every season of his collegiate career.  Grade A-

Release/Setup/Footwork/Mechanics:  Very quick and and easy quick snap wrist release that generates uncanny velocity...Keeps the ball high on the run and gets rid of it quickly when he decides to throw...Worked nearly exclusively out of the shotgun, so three five and seven step drops from under center are somewhat foreign to him, ability to drop and read from under center is a question mark...Does a great job setting up the screen, able to suck the defense in close and use his height to drop the football over the pass rush accurately with placement to allow the receiver to turn and run immediately without having to adjust...His quick and nimble feet and coachability give confidence to his ability to adjust to working from under cneter in more of a traditional pro style passing game...Excellent body control rolling out and scrambling, consistently turns and squares his shoulders rolling left...Bounces around a bit more than you'd like, needs to set his feet on his throws more consistently which would likely decrease the amount of passes that sail high on him.  Grade B

Decision Making/Game Management/Field Vision/Football IQ: Ran a system at Oregon that didn't challenge the quarterback to make too many complicated reads, his ability drop back and scan the field, to readcomplex NFL coverages is a question mark, but he seems to have good instincts, a strong work ethic off the field and a high football IQ so this transition should be a smooth one..Takes care of the football, has the arm to fit the football into tight windows, but values possession of the football and rarely risks turnovers, has the ability to make plays with his legs so he chooses to pull it down and get what he can rather than risk throwing the football to the opposition, illustrated by his only throwing 14 career interceptions on 1,167 pass attempts over three college seasons...Stands tall in the pocket and sees the entire field, excellent perphreal vision, rarely misses open receivers...Has seemingly mastered the read option game, rarely makes the wrong decision whether to keep it or hand it off, puts tremndous pressure on the perimeter of front seven to stay disciplined...Will be asked to be more cerbreal at the next level, his ability to do so will play a big part in whether he succeeds or fails in the NFL, has the ability to make plays with his legs so he will be able to move the offense in more of a one read and run system to start his career until he grows more comfortable reading defenses at the pro level.  Grade B

Mobility/Athleticism/Scrambling and Improvisational Skills: Far and away the strength of his game, could very well be the best all around athlete at the position right now...Very nimble feet within the pocket, doesn't get caught watching the pass rush, keeps his eyes downfield until he makes the decision to pull it down and run...When he does pull it down he has special acceleration and straight line speed, he can pick up eight to ten yards before the defense even realizes he crossed the line of scrimmage....Forces defenses to stay disciplined, to stay at home and remain in their passing lanes...His ability to run limits what defenses can do against him, it forces coordinators to commit a spy to the quarterback in man coverage or he will absolutely eat them alive running the football with the defenders backs turned in man to man...Physically and athletically similar to Colin Kaepernick but with a higher football IQ coming into the league and better accuracy as a passer...When he decides to keep it in the read option game he eats up ground in a blink, zero to sixty acceleration is off the charts for the position, in  earlier years he'd likely be a highly regarded prospect at wide receiver thanks to his size, speed and acceleration...Has rare escapability, possesses the ability to elude pressure without panicking, remain poised on the run, and make plays in the passing game without forcing the football into double or triple coverage, and when all else fails he can turn the corner on the run and consistently pick up big chunks of yardage as a runner...He's a true duel threat quarterback in every sense of the word, capable of moving the offense whatever way the defense gives him...Highly elusive with great instincts as a ball carrier in the open field, has the agility to make defensive backs miss down the field...Despite his ability to often times do it himself with his legs, he's still an unselfish pass first quarterback, unlike many mobile passers who have entered the league, he keeps his eyes constantly down the field looking to throw until he crosses the line of scrimmage.  Grade A

Play Action/Ball Handling: Has great attention to detail, carries out play action fakes with conviction and deception...Freezes the pass rush with his play fakes...Sometimes he's too determined to carry out his ball fakes, even when he's under pressure, he needs to know when to scrap the play fake when he reads blitz prior to the snap so he's not rushing his mechanics on the throw...Handles the read option game as well as any quarterback in recent memory, adds an aspect to the game that defenses absolutely must prepare for and must respect...Fumbles the football too much as a ball carrier, needs to protect the football better in the open field.  Grade B

Poise/Leadership/Intangibles: Said to have great work ethic all week long, highly respected by coaches and teammates alike...Next to impossible to imagine him ever having any off the field issues, a mild mannered, humble young man who carries himself with class and dignity off the gridiron...A team oriented lead by example type of quarterback who doesn't let success go to his head, despite all the individual honors he genuinely seems to take everything in stride...Has more of an air of quiet confidence than a cocky swagger, which should endear him to his veteran teammates at the pro level from day one....Some feel he lacks the fiery, vocal, take charge personality that some prefer in a quarterback, saying he's humble to a fault...He just simply doesn't have a demonstrative "look at me" type of personality, which many find somewhat refreshing in todays day and age...He could just be a bit of a throwback, his personality and leadership traits sound similar to the way Bart Starr, the MVP of the first two Super Bowls for the Green Bay Packers, was described by his teammates, humble but universally respected by teammates and opponents...Masterfully orchestrated an extremely fast paced offense with remarkable poise...Has never been asked to call plays in the huddle at Oregon, reciting the verbage of an NFL offense will be an adjustment and could prove to be a challenge in the beginning, but given his intelligence it shouldn't remain a big issue for very long, though it is an extra challenge at an already challenging position for an NFL rookie, the verbage in the pro game is typically far more complicated that that of the collegiate level anyway however, so this shouldn't put him much further behind than most other rookie signal-callers. Grade A

Summary: Marcus Mariota is the top quarterback in the draft class of 2015, and the best quarterback prospect to enter the league since Andrew Luck in 2012.  He's a true duel threat signal caller with a vastly underrated arm, unique atheltic ability, and a rare quiet poise and dignity as a leader.  He's a team first guy who refused to get caught up in the individual hype, even amidst a Heisman Trophy winning campaign in 2014.  There will be some major adjustments he has to make to the NFL game (unless he's drafted by former Oregon coach Chip Kelly) but Mariota has a rare combination of explosive ablility and sound game management, a rare package for any quarterback yet alone a rookie.  His ability to make plays with his legs as well as throw the football on the run create a difficult challenge for any defense, he's masterful at the read option game, and as a pocket passer he has a lightning quick delivery that produces unexpected zip on his throws, if he were a pitcher in baseball, they'd say he has "easy gas".  His game is by no means perfect, but with his physical tools his ceiling is sky high, think Colin Kaepernick with better accuracy, or even Aaron Rodgers with better athleticism.  Now I'm not saying he's anywhere comparable to the two time MVP yet, but that's the ceiling a player with his skill set possesses....Mariota may not be the best player regardless of position in the 2015 draft class, but he could prove to be the most valuable and certainly has the talent to warrant being selected with the top choice overall when the draft rolls around at the end of April.

Draft Grade: Early 1st Round


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