With Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota deciding he will return for his junior season (he still has until Jan. 15th to change his mind) the NFL Draft landscape experienced its first real bombshell of the season, though it wasn’t unexpected or out of the blue to see Mariota returning to school.
First of all, Oregon is one of the best places to play in the country with top of the line facilities, free Nike gear at your beck-and-call, etc. Second, he now will have a chance to graduate school. Thirdly and fourthly, he will be able to compete for a national title and a Heisman Trophy next year, something that he obviously can’t do this year (well, at least national title).
Fifthly, Mariota will have a chance to play in college football’s first playoff system, being implemented at the end of next season.
Sixthly (is that even a real thing?), Mariota will be able to compete for the number one overall pick next year as well as this year, so he’s not making or losing any money although his draft stock is quite high right now.
In the end, the positives that came out of Mariota returning to school were simply too much to ignore for him not to do it, and we’ll see him back for next season where he will almost assuredly be the consensus top prospect heading into the 2014-15 college football season.
On the other hand, Mariota’s decision to return to school not only helps the Oregon football program, but it helps Fresno State QB Derek Carr (nearly typed David) who is having a monster senior season and is arguably hotter than any prospect in the country right now.
Carr has leapfrogged his way to the #2 QB on a lot of pre-draft ranking boards, and is sneaking into the top 10 of mock drafts, including our own which was posted yesterday. Completing over 70 percent of his passes, Carr has thrown for a whopping 4,462 yards and 45 touchdowns in 11 games this season, throwing just five interceptions along the way. Perhaps the most impressive statistic is that Carr has also only been sacked eight times all years.
The numbers he is putting up this year certainly warrant a first round pick, and his arm/athleticism/size combo will most definitely make him a top 10 candidate come May. With Mariota returning to school, Carr’s chances of being the #2 QB off the board increased exponentially.