6'4, 210 pounds
You want athletic ability? Marcus Mariota is your guy. He's oozing with God-given athletic ability. He's very slippery in the pocket and can work himself out of tough situations. Oregon ran a lot of designed runs for him and he showed great straight line ability along with some decent agility in the open field.
The play below is a good example of Mariota negotiating the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield. He immediately looked down the field again after turning his back to the play. He then flicked a 30 yard strike right on target while on the move.
Mariota's release is extremely quick. It doesn't take him long to wind up and fire. He shows great form, always coming over the top with the ball. He has an above average arm for the NFL and can execute every pass in the playbook. He's accurate for the most part. He has really improved his deep accuracy during his time at Oregon. Mariota is able to stay accurate while on the move, which makes him extremely tough to defend.
This throw below gets me all kinds of excited about Mariota. Check out the eyes. He recognizes the single high safety and manipulates him brilliantly. He sells that underneath post route just long enough, then hits his man over the top with the safety not paying attention to him. The throw was right on the money.
By all accounts, Mariota is a model citizen. His coaches have raved about his calm demeanor and outstanding work ethic. Mariota alway appears to have it all together while on the field, rarely getting frazzled by anything. He should kill the interview portion of the draft process.
The biggest knock on Mariota is the system that he comes out of. The Oregon system is known for creating matchups in space, watering down the decision making process of the quarterback. This isn't to say that Mariota has never had to go through his reads before, but he did it a lot less than a quarterback in a pro style system had to do. There are examples of Mariota going through his progressions, just not a lot of them.
This play is an exact example of what scouts want to see more of out of Mariota. Watch his eyes here. He pops through his reads quickly and decisively. 1-2-3. The ball comes out a touch late, but the takeaway here is his ability to get through his reads. Many think that he didn't even have to read defenses enough while at Oregon, which may very well be true. But this play at least provides a glimpse of what Mariota can do.
Another knock on Mariota is his lack of anticipation. Most offenses are based on timing. You would like to see the ball thrown at a time that allows the receiver to make a play on it while he is coming open, rather that him waiting on the ball as the defender closes. This is an area where Mariota is going to have to develop. He just wasn't asked to do this very much. Unless he lands with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, there is going to be a steep learning curve to start.
Even though he will be a bit of a project, Marcus Mariota is my number one quarterback. I think his tools will translate to the NFL regardless of system. His combination of arm strength, mechanics, mental makeup and athletic ability are truly special. It has really been tough for me to come up with a good comparision for Mariota, but I think he falls somewhere between Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill. Scheme fit will be a big deal for Mariota on draft day. Hopefully the team that drafts him will maximize his athletic ability within their offense. I think his most likely landing spots are with the Buccaneers, Jets, Browns or Eagles.