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Scouting Report: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Scouting Report: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Serious fantasy appeal
By: Pete Davidson : April 16, 2015 4:51pm

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He hasn’t worked out of a huddle since high school. Some evaluators say he can’t make NFL reads and that he threw to a lot of wide-open receivers at Oregon. Many of the experts are saying that he’ll struggle with the transition from the college spread attack to a pro style offense. A trendy so called expert recently said that he’d rather have Zach Mettenberger at quarterback than anybody in this year’s draft. Marcus Mariota, in some ways, is this year’s Teddy Bridgewater. He’s the guy whose game is getting picked apart and over-scrutinized. He’s the guy who has somehow gotten worse since the season ended--without playing any games.  As I said with Bridgewater last year, these situations are opportunities to get good value.

Mariota is the ultimate system player, and that's no insult. He ran Oregon’s offense extremely well and it’s being held against him in some ways. Through no fault of his own, Mariota will have to make a tougher transition than Jameis Winston, who benefits from having played in Jimbo Fisher’s offense, which is closer to the generic pro style that we are accustomed to seeing on the next level. This is similar to the advantage that Bridgewater and Zach Mettenberger had over guys like Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr last year.

Here’s the magic question. Rotobahn’s staff agrees that Mariota has a steeper transitional hill compared to Jameis Winston. Having said that, a franchise quarterback’s career can last 15 years. Considering this, how important is this transition when put in proper perspective? Said differently, will we still be talking about the transition in a season or two? I don’t think we will.

One important point to make here is that there are more and more teams using spread attacks and spread concepts in the NFL these days. And, while it’s likely that Mariota’s transition would be easier with teams like the Eagles or the Jets, most good coordinators will help him by allowing the rookie to do some of the things he already does well.

Mariota has been working on the transition to the pro game with both Kevin O’Connell and Chargers starter Philip Rivers. “[I’ve been] learning how my drops time up with the route concepts and how my feet are going to help me go through my progressions.” O’Connell has been named quarterback coach for the Browns, so he’s now out of the mix, but Mariota said he’d still be working with Rivers.  This is looking ironic these days considering all the rumors involving San Diego and the two slot.

As I have said with other players in the past, it’s always a good sign when a young player understands the hurdles in his way. Mariota does and he’s getting help from people who know the drill. It’s a good sign, but nothing you wouldn’t expect if you are familiar with this prospect, who by all accounts, is a tireless worker. 

COMBINE

  • Height - 6’4”
  • Weight - 222
  • Hand - 9 7/8”
  • 40 - 4.52
  • Vertical - 36”
  • Broad - 10’1”
  • 3 Cone - 6.87
  • Short Shuttle - 4.11

Tons of good information here and it’s all positive. Mariota grades out as a plus in every category. His size/speed combo puts a lot of pro running backs to shame.

ATTRIBUTES

  • Build - Mariota is a prototypically built QB. He’s tall and he’s got some heft to him.
  • Speed - He’s got a lot more speed than a typical quarterback and what makes it so impressive is that he’s a big guy.
  • Agility - Mariota is fast but also explosive in his movements as evidenced by his game film and by his scores in the broad and vertical jumps plus his 6.87 three cone time.
  • Running ability - He’s a true scoring threat running with the football. He may not have the power of Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton.  He may not have the quickness of Russell Wilson, but he’s one of those guys who can deliver back-breaking runs both in real football terms and in fantasy football terms.  This guy is capable of scoring plenty of touchdowns with his feet at the next level.
  • Footwork - We like Mariota’s footwork. If any one thing tells me that he can improve as a pro, it’s his footwork, which has improved throughout his collegiate career.
  • Eyes - Mariota trusts his eyes and makes good decisions with the football.  As I said earlier, he ran the offense at Oregon very well.  And, while I want him to make more anticipation throws, I do like the way he sees the field, especially when things break down. He’s effective when he leaves the pocket because he keeps his eyes downfield so well. He doesn’t drop his eyes very often until he’s made up his mind to run and that is a trait the NFL will notice.  
  • Arm - He can make all the throws and has an adequate NFL arm.
  • Accuracy - Based on all the film I have watched, Mariota has some ball placement inconsistencies and struggles with accuracy at times on soft-touch throws. He'll also be a little late on his secondary reads at times which leads to some rushed throws and thus some inaccurate throws.  At this point in time, accuracy is not a plus trait for Mariota though I would not go so far as to call it a weakness. I don’t think he has ruin-your-career accuracy issues by any means, but this could keep him from being elite if he doesn’t fine tune a bit.
  • Release - We love his quick release and we like the fact that he can get enough on the football despite a fairly compact delivery.
  • Leadership - He’s been a leader since Chip Kelly was running the program and you have to like what you’re getting in this area. This is a kid who earns the respect of those around him and that’s essential at the next level.
  • Production - The numbers are outstanding and well worth checking out.

FILM ROOM

Here’s a look at Marcus against FSU from last season. You can get 20 individual games over at Draft Breakdow, so check some out.

CONCLUSION

What I see in Mariota is a better version of Jake Locker, and with a much friendlier injury history. If I am correct, here's a highly relevant question. What would Jake Locker be worth if he was better in all of the following areas?

  • Accuracy
  • Release
  • Footwork
  • Reads
  • Keeping his eyes downfield
  • Speed

Mariota has the advantage in these areas based on our film work. Both he and Locker are strong leaders—willing to do just about anything to win. Locker’s body has paid a heavy price for this, but Mariota’s to date, has not.

Rotobahn's feeling is that Mariota becomes what a lot of folks thought Locker could become. We’ll have a more in-depth take on his transition once we know what offense he’ll be playing in, but we expect him to be a successful NFL starter with the upside to be elite in time.

Now for the really positive stuff … fantasy value. While Mariota may have some things to work through before he’ll help an NFL team to the playoffs, he will help you in fantasy as soon as he’s starting games. Why? Wheels, that’s why. Mariota is a true multi-threat quarterback and he’ll post excellent fantasy numbers as long as he has some talent around him. If he ends up with the Eagles and Chip Kelly, he’ll be a QB1 right out of the box. If he lands in a more conventional system, he’ll still have some fantasy appeal because he’ll give you consistent foot-points.

If you have a need in a dynasty league, Mariota is the guy I would be adding first, not Jameis Winston. I’ll reevaluate after the draft as always. 

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