Breakdown: Titans Select Marcus Mariota

Everything you need to know about the Tennessee Titans’ first-round selection of quarterback Marcus Mariota out of Oregon from Scout's college and pro football experts.

Awaiting Image
Marcus Mariota
Oregon / 6'4 / 222 lbs
  • QB
  • [1] #2

Analysis

Mariota had a storied career for the Ducks. He started every game (41) and won the school’s first ever Heisman Trophy. He finished with 10,796 passing yards (68.6%) for 105 touchdowns and only 14 picks. He also rushed for 2,237 yards and 29 scores. He’s a superior athlete who runs well. Mariota has shown that he’s a tremendous leader who makes great decisions with the ball. He has incredible NFL upside but his game will take some time to develop. Mariota possesses good arm strength, field vision, has shown the ability to throw with anticipation.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

Mariota is the pick for Titans as Tennessee makes a huge commitment for their franchise hoping this former Duck can soon realize his vast pro potential. Mariota had a storied career for Oregon, starting every game (41) and won the school’s first ever Heisman Trophy. He finished with 10,796 passing yards (68.6%) for 105 touchdowns and only 14 picks. He also rushed for 2,237 yards and 29 scores. He’s a superior athlete who runs so well. Mariota has shown that he’s a tremendous leader who makes great decisions with the ball. He has incredible NFL upside but his game will take some time to develop. Mariota possesses good arm strength, field vision, and he has shown the ability to throw with anticipation. But he comes from the Oregon spread and never had to really take command in a huddle and take a snap from under center. There will be an adjustment period but he should transition well in time. All the tools are there for Mariota.

The Heisman Trophy favorite recently captured the Davey O’Brien Award and Maxwell Award. Marcus Mariota was well on his way to becoming the odds-on favorite to be named the first pick in the 2015 draft, but after Jameis Winston impressed teams at the NFL Scouting Combine to possible secure the selection Tampa Bay owns, rumors are running rampant that his old coach in Philadelphia will make every effort to move up in the draft and select him. Most feel that Oakland might be seduced with an inviting offer from the Eagles.

A gifted athlete, the junior put up impressive numbers, hitting on 68.6% of his passes (280-of-408) for 4,121 yards, 40 touchdowns and three interceptions entering the national title game in 2014, adding another score on a 26-yard catch, in addition to reaching the end zone 15 times via 125 carries for 731 yards. Many analysts felt that if Mariota had declared for the 2014 draft, he would have been wearing a Houston Texans uniform today.

One of four players in major college history to throw for over 10,000 yards (10,463) and rush for over 2,000 yards (2,198), scouting analysts see the uncanny play-making ability in the Oregon passer that the 49ers have with Colin Kaepernick at the helm. Much like the San Francisco QB, Mariota needs to be accounted for at all times, as he not only has a rifle arm, but is dangerous when he spots a crease and explodes through it as a ball carrier.

The Oregon quarterback also uses very good touch and anticipation to move the ball. His athleticism matches the “new wave” of quarterbacks in the NFL, as he is very effective operating in play action. Still, much like Kaepernick, Mariota has operated in a pretty simplified offense and it is rare to see him line up under center. He is the type that gets locked on too long trying to connect with his primary target and must do a better job of scanning the field rather than becoming so reliant upon his first read.

Mariota has above average lower and upper body mechanics, showing quickness in his pass set. He shows good mobility getting back quickly to set up and unlike most West Coast/spread quarterbacks, looks very comfortable lining up under center rather than in the shotgun. He shows a snappy overhead release. Even when he carries the ball lower than ideal when moving out of the pocket, he shows good zip behind his tosses.

The Ducks junior has a good, quick, snappy overhead release. He carries the ball low at times, but still has enough arm power to prevent it from slowing his delivery. When he comes over the top, his release is high and very consistent. He has more than enough arm strength to make all the throws at the next level. He throws the long ball with touch and accuracy, zipping the post. Even when he throws off his back foot, his arm strength is above average. The thing you see on film is the speed and distance he consistently gets on his long balls.

Mariota is consistent in the mid-range, has the strength to go deep consistently, rarely sprays the ball on long throws and would rather run with the ball then force it into traffic. He has above average touch on screens and good zip on slants and hitches. He can air it out when needed, making it look easy throwing long. He has shown good improvement with his touch, as he no longer throws the ball too hard, a problem he had at times earlier in his career. He also showed a better ability to keep the ball in play, putting more air under the ball.

Mariota has more than enough arm strength to make all the throws at the next level. He throws the long ball with touch and accuracy, zipping the post. Even when he throws off his back foot, his arm strength is above average. The thing you see on film is the speed and distance he consistently gets on his long balls.

There is no question that Mariota has the arm power and made strides to be consistent on all throws at this point. He does a nice job of hitting his receivers in stride. He is seldom late getting the ball to the receivers, firing the pass out quickly. He does not wait long to throw and shows good anticipation on when his receiver will get open. When protected, he stands tall in the pocket.

When protection breaks down, Mariota has a running back’s mentality. He has made good improvement sliding out of the pocket to buy time, but still is prone to bolt when protection collapses. When he tries to make plays that aren’t there, he tends to hurry, causing him to lose sight of the defender, resulting in a costly sack.

Mariota is a well-built athlete with a medium to long stride and good foot quickness. He also has displayed good athletic ability and change of direction agility for the position. He has a good set-up and a quick release, to go along with very good arm strength. Rarely will he make questionable decisions. He has no trouble reading defenses and will not force the ball into traffic (see low interception percentage).

What concerns teams is that Mariota has operated strictly in the shotgun and some quarterback needy teams, seeing the massive failures drafting spread quarterbacks in recent years, are not as enamored with him as one would like. They need to look at him with rose colored glasses, as he is actually a prospect that is part pocket passer and part runner as he is really athletic.

The Heisman Trophy winner shows good arm strength and playmaking ability when the original play breaks down and he can utilized on designed runs where he is very effective. His accuracy is a strong suit, making 66.75% of his throws, good for 105 touchdowns against only fourteen interceptions, so the talent level and production are there.

Mariota has the ability to make most necessary throws and has a high, over-the-top release. He generates natural velocity on his passes and even though he works from the shotgun, he shows sound footwork dropping back and getting set quickly. He has a nice touch and flashes the ability to lead receivers when throwing underneath, but also shows the arm to push the ball down field, thanks to the velocity he attains when throwing outside of the numbers.

Mariota plants his feet properly and can consistently deliver on timing routes, along with showing the ability to fit the ball into tight spots when his feet are set and he gets some power behind him. He’s instinctive in the pocket, doing a nice job of stepping up when he feels pressure coming off the edge and keeping his eyes down field.

Mariota appears to be at his best when the launch point is moved and he can make plays on the run or when improvising, as he did record 2,237 yards with 29 touchdowns to average 6.64 yards on 337 carries at Oregon. While this is an asset, it also can be a bad thing. At times, when he does not hang in the pocket and stay with his reads, his accuracy can waver and while he can make all the throws, you get the feeling he lacks that great overall arm in terms of power and ball speed.

Marcus Mariota NFL Scouting Combine measurable


6-4/222 (4.52 forty)
32-inch arm length
9 7/8-inch hands
36-inch vertical jump
121-inch broad jump
6.87 3 cone drill
4.11 20 yard shuttle

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.

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