Over the weekend, news broke that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder and may not be able to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine. This has raised some questions as well as more concerns for Mariota.
It may not mean a big deal for some outside of the league but for those trying to evaluate his talents it is. As a result, several have already begun speaking out.
“All he’s doing is hurting himself," said an NFL Scout. "When we looked at [Carolina quarterback Cam] Newton for example, we wanted to see how he handled coaching and directions from coaches at the pro level on top of making NFL-type throws, which he did. That is why the Senior Bowl is important. That is also why at the combine it is important for quarterbacks to throw. Pro days are not looked into as heavy as individual workouts. Those guys are working out to their own advantage due to them being in familiar surroundings. We don’t emphasize that as much. If Mariota doesn’t throw at the combine, he only has one shot left and that’s at individual workouts across the league and at that point I’m not sure if that’ll be enough.”
The scout added he understands that there is an injury involved and mentions several prospects try not to take on risks of injury at workouts. However, it’s an evaluation and without properly evaluating any player the process is not complete.
“I know what I am getting with one and have seen many work out with independent coaches through time,” said the scout when talking about players that have showcased pro-level traits. “That’s the difference. We normally know what we are getting with those guys. I want to know what I get with a player like Mariota and if we have questions, we’d like to see him take on those questions on the field with every possible opportunity.”
The scout isn’t the only one with that reasoning. A source close to the Bucs echoed those comments to some degree but added quarterbacks at the combine are looked at even closer.
“Their pro days are rehearsed unlike other positions where teams are allowed to ask for specific drills to be done,” said the source. “With quarterbacks, [talent evaluators] want them throwing [at the combine] because it’s out of their element.”
But Mariota’s injury could prevent him from doing all that as reported. Mariota is still considering throwing at the combine but without knowing the severity of his injury, we may not know how he will be effected. Dr. Benjamin Wedro, who specializes in sports injuries, provided some insight into the injury.
“A sprained AC joint is also known as a shoulder separation,” said Dr. Wedro. “There are actually 6 grades, depending on which ligaments are damaged and how badly they might be torn. If it is a "minor" grade 1 sprain, the return time is a couple of weeks. If surgery is needed, the time frame can be a expanded to 4-6 months.
“Complications, again depending upon severity, include arthritis, loss of throwing range of motion, and loss of power.”
There have been rumblings from some within NFL circles questioning the timing of the injury. No, that’s not saying the injury is being ignored. Instead it’s in question because this was not mentioned anytime after the National Championship game nor given as the reason for skipping out on the Senior Bowl invite.
Still, As Dr. Wedro stated, a low grade sprain should have Mariota ready for the start of the combine on February 17. If that is in fact the case, the Oregon prospect would be wise to participate in throwing drills in Indianapolis.
With the chance of being a No. 1 or 2 pick overall on April 30, that should be incentive enough to showcase his talents to NFL evaluators.
Follow Bucs Blitz on twitter: @TBBucsOnScout