2015 NFL Draft: The Pros and Cons of Marcus Mariota


Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) walks off the field during the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

To paraphrase William Shakespeare, one of the biggest draft questions for the New York Jets is: “To draft Marcus Mariota or not draft Marcus Mariota, that is the question.”

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And that is THE biggest question for Mike Maccagnan, Todd Bowles and the Jets staff to answer Thursday.

So what I’m going to do is give you my pros and cons for drafting the Oregon quarterback. And then I will give you guys my two cents as to what the Jets should do about Mariota.

The Pros:

Over the last couple of years offensively, what’s been the Jets biggest problem? Turing the ball over.

Let me hit you with this coming from the NFL.com Draft profile of Mariota: “Keen sense of where trouble lurks and almost never gets baited into a dangerous throw. Threw multiple interceptions in a game just three times over 41 career starts.”

Just let that fester for a second, three times over 41 career starts. This guy doesn’t make a lot of mistakes… ever. From 2012-2014, Mariota threw a grand total of 14 interceptions. (espn.com)

His numbers dropped from six to four interceptions throughout college. When you project what Mariota will do when he gets to the pros, you like to think he’ll not be a turnover machine.

Now, look at Geno Smith’s career numbers at West Virginia, from 2009-2012, Smith threw 21 picks (espn.com). Then flash ahead to two years in the NFL in 30 games, how many interceptions does he have? 34 (courtesy of espn.com). The projection didn’t go down on his turnovers, they went up.

So when you look at turnover issue, you want to believe Mariota could plug that up just based on the sample size from college.

Some of the other positives, when you watch him play, and read his NFL.com strengths he has the escapability of Ben Rothlisberger and can make plays like Russell Wilson.

People like to think Mariota’s just OK with his accuracy. In his final year at Oregon, he was 304 for 445 for 4484 yards with a 68.3 percentage. That’s very accurate.

And when I say he can scramble like Wilson, or even Colin Kaepernick; it’s no joke. He had 15 touchdowns on 135 carries for 770 yards his final year. In comparison Wilson carried the ball 79 times for 338 yards and six TDs at Wisconsin. Kaepernick carried the ball 173 times for 1206 yards and 20 TDs.

The guy is pretty smart (he ended the fall term with a 3.22 GPA), so yes, he didn’t play in a pro system but he’s got the brain to learn an NFL offense.  What’s the harm of letting this guy sit and hold a clipboard for a year so he can learn to be an NFL pro athlete before letting him sniff the field. Before he became injury prone, it worked for Chad Pennington.

Next: The Cons

Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) is pressured by Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Joey Bosa (97) in the second half in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Cons:

He hasn’t been in a NFL offense.

From the CBS Sports profile: “Overly reliant on his first read, and occasionally commits the cardinal sin of throwing late across his body.” The problem with that statement is that most rookies have that tendency. We saw it in Smith as well as Mark Sanchez.

From the same profile: “Accuracy can be an issue, as Mariota misses too many open receivers, including high-percentage underneath passes.” Yes, this could be a problem but this is a relatively easy fix.

This to me when reading the weakness on the NFL.com draft profile, is something that’s a little bit disconcerting: “Pocket feel is very average. Stepped into sacks he had no business taking. Didn’t have to throw to tight windows often. “ That’s something he needs to learn and fast. To succeed in this game, you have to be able to really feel when the pocket collapses and make the right moves to keep the play alive, taking a bad sack will earn you a lot of bad grades from the media including Ray Lucas now with SNY.

If you want to read more of both draft profiles, go to NFL and CBS Sports.

So my bottom line is this; Mariota is someone who comes into the 2015 draft with some bad habits, but to me, I see a huge upside. He could be one of those once in a lifetime quarterbacks. So if I were in that war room, if you have that opportunity to get Mariota, do it. I know that getting a Vic Beasley or an Amari Cooper is extremely enticing. But if you look at your options at the quarterback position, they aren’t exactly favorable. Matt Simms never got a fair shake, Ryan Fitzpatrick is serviceable, and I don’t trust Smith. He’s too inconsistent in my eyes. If you can do it, get Marcus Mariota as the future New York Jets quarterback.

Next: Mock Draft: Jets Go Offensive Line and Pass Rusher

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